Yankee Fever In California

Leagas’ Fan-Based Adidas Ads Back For Second Year
SAN FRANCISCO–Leagas Delaney’s regional Adidas campaign with the New York Yankees is entering a new phase after capturing a bushel of international honors and turning its characters into local stars.
Though the Yankees play just a short subway ride uptown from Madison Avenue, the unmistakable New York flavor of the ads was developed by an agency across the country in San Francisco. Spending on the campaign is a modest $1 million, just a fraction of Adidas’ $25-30 million U.S. ad budget.
A series of new black-and-white TV spots, print ads and outdoor boards broke in the New York area last week. The ads retain the tagline, “Only in New York,” and feature the same five average-looking, somewhat overweight, rabid Yankee fans introduced in last year’s ads. The men, each with a letter painted on his chest, collectively spelling the word “YANKS,” demonstrate their devotion to the team in a series of humorous shenanigans.
The new work sees the YANKS guys putting their fanaticism to good use by getting more involved with the team than in last year’s ads. In one spot, they help David Cone rest his pitching arm by doing everything for him: feeding him, carrying his bags, signing autographs and even helping him out in the bathroom.
In another spot, the “K” guy gets thrown around like rag doll by the others every time Yankee pitcher Hideki Irabu gets a strikeout. In a parody of the traditional custom of hanging “K” signs to tally the home pitcher’s strikeouts, the spot ends with the “K” man hanging forlornly from the empty stands.
Created by the Leagas creative team of art director Peter Nicholson and copywriter Scott Wild, the campaign touts the relationship between Adidas and the Yankees by celebrating the passionate ties that bind Yankee fans and their team, according to agency executives.
“Seeing some charming, out-of-shape guys without shirts on is not something you usually see in sports advertising,” said Harry Cocciolo, the office’s creative director. “It’s refreshing [for ads] to treat the fan as the hero” and to savor the frivolity that can surround professional sports, he added.
Yankee fans, who watch the ads on Yankee Stadium’s giant screen and cheer along with the characters, have turned the actors into local celebrities. After a day of shooting earlier this year, Adidas paid the YANKS guys to make an appearance as fans at a Yankee game. “When the giant screen showed that the actors were in the stands, the fans went nuts,” said Courtney Buechert, the agency’s managing director. Later, as the actors moved to another section of the stadium, “People were yelling and cheering and asking them for autographs,” he said.
The campaign has attracted critical attention as well, garnering two silver Lions at Cannes and a silver and two bronzes at the Clio Awards this year.