WongDoody Makes ‘Key’ Play for Sonics Campaign

A new TV commercial for the Seattle SuperSonics has 6-foot-10-inch Olumide Oyedeji dunking a basketball in the face of startled 6-year-old rec-leaguer. The message, of course, is that it’s much more fun when the Sonics take on fellow NBA teams.

The unorthodox campaign, tagged “It’s better in the Key,” is the latest from Seattle’s WongDoody, now in its sixth season as the Sonics’ ad agency.

Radio and print ads and four TV spots lightheartedly tout the benefits of watching games at the KeyArena. They show Sonics players launching T-shirts at gardeners from the back of a truck and making mischief with a remote-controlled blimp. In one ad, the Sonics’ dance squad peps up a senior citizen’s aerobics class.

Though the old folks couldn’t keep up, Sonics fans apparently can. The team says it has sold more than 11,000 six-game packages this season, compared to 4,200 last year.

Agency creative director Tracy Wong said he is pleased with the results, but admitted, “It’s a lot easier to sell six games than the entire 41-home-game package.”

“We wanted to get back to a campaign showing the players having fun,” said Brett Ballbach, senior director of marketing for Fullhouse Entertainment, which also works with the team. The idea was to develop a connection between the fans and the players to fill KeyArena seats.

One seat that’s unlikely to change anytime soon is that of the agency, despite changes in the Sonics’ ownership. (A group of investors bought the franchise earlier this month from Seattle’s The Ackerley Group.) “We’ve got a great family relationship with WongDoody,” Ballbach said. “I foresee a strong business relationship in the years to come.”

WongDoody has had great success on the account. In 1998, its “See them in your home” campaign won the top TV prize at the London International Advertising Awards.