TGI Friday’s, ESPN in Media Deal

SportsCenter Co-Anchors Star in Publicis’ Series of Cable Ads
DALLAS–In a unique partnership with the media, TGI Friday’s will launch a series of television commercials next week on ESPN featuring SportsCenter co-anchors Dan Patrick and Kenny Mayne.
Publicis in Dallas created the series of eight, 13-second TV spots to air during stand-alone breaks on live sports cablecasts. The ads will not be broadcast during ESPN’s SportsCenter program.
Set in a TGI Friday’s restaurant, the series plays on humorous interactions between the two SportsCenter on-air personalities.
In one, Mayne describes the action of Patrick eating a steak as if he were covering a game: “And he slices through the middle! And he takes it to the hole!”
Patrick wearily requests, “Can you leave it on the set just once, please?” He takes a bite.
“Nothing but molars!” Mayne screams enthusiastically.
The men do not directly endorse Friday’s in any of the spots, but their byplay is meant to show the eatery offers a fun dining experience.
“These are lighthearted guys that are about fun, and that’s what TGI’s is about too. It seemed like a great match,” said Publicis executive creative director Steve Feldman.
ESPN agreed to the use of its co-anchors after Friday’s stepped up its media buying schedule. A total of 160 spots have initially been purchased to air over the next nine months during programming that includes Major League Baseball, National Hockey League regular season games, and National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball and football.
“We’ve been negotiating with [ESPN] for the last couple years,” said Publicis principal management supervisor Howard Terry. “Based on the good fit of the personality of Friday’s and the personality of ESPN, we wanted to do something beyond just increasing our buy . . . and in brainstorming we put together this almost co-branding effort.”
Patrick and Mayne completed the cable TV commercials during a one-day shoot in Dallas.
“When you look at the spots, it looks like they belong there,” Feldman said. “Yes, the commercials were scripted, but they were definitely written with them in mind.”
The advertisements carry over the tagline from the restaurant chain’s major market campaign, “In here it’s always Friday.”