Fox Sports Toughs It Out

SAN FRANCISCO — A national ad campaign hyping the upcoming hockey season on Fox Sports relies on the network’s trademark in-your-face humor to suggest that it’s the fans who get tougher with each passing game.

The four-spot, National Hockey League-themed effort, by TBWA\Chiat\Day in San Francisco, is set to break this week and will run on Fox and its cable networks. It is the first Fox Sports work from executive creative director Chuck McBride since the fall 2001 campaign tagged, “Beware of things made in October.”

Those ads, which showed appliances malfunctioning because assembly-line workers were distracted by watching baseball, won a Gold Lion in Cannes earlier this year.

One new spot, tailored for Detroit, opens with the text, “Red Wings Game 1,” then cuts to a man who doesn’t flinch when his body hair is removed with a wax strip. The copy then reads, “Red Wings Game 14,” and shows the fellow unmoved after getting hit with a misdirected dart in a bar. Finally, after “Game 47,” the man, tossing away trash, is beaned on the head by a dumpster lid but walks away unfazed. The spots close with the tagline, “The more games you watch, the tougher you get.”

Other spots show scenes that feature a fan removing nose hair, crashing a scooter into a truck and getting splattered with a car’s hot antifreeze.

“We felt a lot of pressure to deliver something good and worthy of conversation because of the last campaign,” McBride said. “We looked at 15 different directions and dredged through a lot of ideas to get to the caliber of the last work.”

“The challenge was to get people interested in hockey, and the way to do it was to make people feel like it is the toughest sport in town,” said Eric Markgraf, svp of marketing for Fox Sports, adding that the spots target young males.

“We’re not promoting the fighting; it’s just that roughness is classically part of hockey,” said Neal Tiles, client evp of marketing.