Oddball Behavior Is the Norm in Titleist Ads

NEW YORK There may be plenty of good things about Titleist’s NXT and NXT Tour golf balls, but John Cleese is having none of it, in two spots and three print ads from Arnold breaking on Friday.

“I guess there’s kind of a movement in golf that technology in golf balls is getting too good for the game,” said Nick Kaldenbaugh, evp, group creative director at the Boston agency. “So we created a character who represents the traditions of the game, who is completely up in arms about how good the ball is.”

In one spot, to protest the NXT and NXT Tour golf balls, described on Titleist’s Web site as offering “high, short-game spin” and “shot-stopping control,” Cleese, who plays a Scottish architect, holds a benefit concert to stop production of the golf balls. The concert features actual hip-hop group Rising Sons. In another spot, Cleese howls in pain in a dentist office, not because the dentist is hurting him, but because he realizes the dentist uses Titleist golf balls.

Cleese was the agency’s first choice for the character they created, Kaldenbaugh said. “He’s got that great English humor, so it was a great fit for his personality,” Kaldenbaugh said.

But there were no Monty Python-esque antics or improvisation on set. “Cleese is a real pro,” Kaldenbaugh said. “He doesn’t like any surprises. … He likes to have everything worked out in advance and really likes to know what’s going to happen up front.”

Ads will air on the Golf Channel and break during the Ford Championship Golf Tournament. Print work will appear in golf publications. Titleist spent about $15-20 million during the first 11 months of 2002, according to CMR.

Other personnel involved in the campaign were: Ron Lawner, Arnold chairman and chief creative officer; John Petruney, evp, group creative director; Craig Johnson, vp, associate cd and copywriter; Mary Rich, acd, art director; Jim Vaughan, group head senior producer; David Kellogg, director; and Dick Gordon, editor.