Spike TV’s Men Love Women or Leave ’em

NEW YORK Two rounds of spots for Spike TV take different approaches in touting the fledgling “network for men.” One shows the lengths men go to be around women, while the other shows men playing hardball in the battle of the sexes. Both campaigns began running on Spike TV and its sister Viacom stations at the beginning of August.

The first series of three TV spots, directed by David Shane of Hungry Man in New York, with creative developed in-house, shows men doing things they hate in order to be closer to women. One spot shows a man in a women’s literature class. “Dave hates women’s lit,” onscreen copy states, “but loves women.” A second commercial presents a man performing the death scene in Romeo and Juliet. Onscreen text reads: “Meet Dan. Dan hates Shakespeare. But loves Juliet.” A third ad depicts a man playing women’s field hockey so he can be near the opposite sex. All end with the Spike logo and the tagline, “The first network for men.” Spike TV’s Josh Reiger was creative director and agency producer on the campaign, and Keith Kopnicki was copywriter.

In the second flight of spots, created by Crossroads Television in New York, however, there is no love lost between men and women. One spot shows a man driving off without his wife when she takes too long to get ready. Another compares a man and woman’s closet; contrary to stereotypes, the woman has a tiny closet, and the man has a huge closet, filled with sports paraphernalia. The third ad shows a man leaving the toilet seat up in the bathroom. “That’s right, we’re leaving it up,” says the voiceover. David Weinstock was creative director; Daniel Ferrante and Charlie Short were copywriters.

“We’re trying to find a voice for the Spike guy,” said Tina Potter, vice president, brand central creative group at New York-based Spike TV, formerly TNN. While the ads produced by Hungry Man were “much more subtle and dry, Crossroads’ were more obvious but funny.” There’s a place for both approaches, Potter said. “Spike TV promises to be all about men and about all men. There are a lot of different ways to go to continue to evolve [the Spike TV] voice.”

What both campaigns share is what Crossroads’ Weinstock calls “guy-centric attitude.” “The key is to find something both entertaining and tongue-in-cheek to communicate the essence of the brand without being offensive,” he said. “The difference in men and women’s closet size, and the battle over leaving the toilet seat up or down are things everyone has experience with.

“They’re really very universal things,” Weinstock said. “They help encapsulate the brand’s spirit because they’re both funny but truthful.”

Unleashing the “guy-centric attitude” took a bit of work for Hungry Man director Shane. “I generally prefer much subtler things,” he said. “But ultimately we embraced, sort of, ‘We’re daring to be stupid here.’ Sometimes the funniest laugh is the cheapest laugh.” He knew he wasn’t going too far, Shane said, when women on set would laugh at the jokes.

Three more rounds of promotional spots, with creative conceived in-house, are in development for later this year. “We’ll continue to produce all kinds of spots because there’s all kinds of men,” Potter said.