Out to Launch

Holiday Campaigns. James Gandolfini flips for Kobold watches. ESPN goes to a galaxy far, far away. Let's launch!

A new round of "This Is SportsCenter" commercials debuted last week (thank you!) on all ESPN Networks. The campaign features many Star Wars characters, including R2-D2, C-3PO, Darth Vader, and a Stormtrooper, as well as tennis star Andy Roddick, boxer Lennox Lewis, soccer player Heather Mitts, and spelling bee champion David Tidmarsh. Also included are SportsCenter anchors John Anderson, Linda Cohn, Mike Greenberg, Dana Jacobson, Stuart Scott, and Scott Van Pelt. In "Nickname," Roddick stops by Stuart Scott's office and is curious as to why Stuart no longer calls him "A-Rod." "Space Anchors" shows ESPN hiring a more sophisticated staff, including Chewbacca, C-3P0, R2-D2, and other Star Wars favorites to help with SportsCenter's new high definition technology. In "Spelling Bee," when Scott Van Pelt gets stuck on the spelling of an athlete's name, the National Spelling Bee Champion is there to bail him out - as luck would have it. The six new spots were created by ESPN's longtime agency, Wieden + Kennedy New York.



No fighting please. Keeping with sports, adidas launched a national campaign highlighting Houston Rockets forward Tracy McGrady wearing his latest shoe, the T-MAC 4. The campaign debuted on NBATV last month along with a behind-the-scenes feature. "Unstoppable" is airing on national network and cable television (NBC, FOX, ESPN, and MTV) and features McGrady facing off against a host of miniature adversaries (think Gulliver's Travels). The creative centers on the idea that even when he's alone on the court, McGrady focuses on and works hard at becoming the best player he can be. The spot begins with T-MAC taking some shots with his trainer on an empty court. Out of nowhere two helicopters fly past his head towing a rope between the two of them, trying to use it to restrain him. As he dribbles and heads farther down the court, more and more ropes are tied around his legs and body. But McGrady cannot be stopped. 180/TBWA San Francisco created the campaign.

Staples launched a holiday campaign on Nov. 21 that highlights the retailer as a destination for digital cameras for the whole family. The holiday campaign, created by McCann Erickson, includes TV and radio spots demonstrating that there's a digital camera for everyone on your shopping list. The 30-second TV spot features a family decorating a tree. Grandma gathers the family around for a photo and - click - snaps a stapler just like a camera. Grandma shakes her head as the announcer says, "Come on, take the hint. Staples has the digital cameras everyone wants this year."

This ad will certainly warm your heart this holiday season. Pushing some buttons is The Kobold Watch Company. The ad, which launched in The Economist on Nov. 18, features James Gandolfini, aka Tony Soprano, claiming that Kobold is No. 1, using his middle finger to show his enthusiasm. The ad will also run in a number of watch industry magazines in spring 2005. Michael Kobold, the company's founder, created the campaign.

This is a launch with a little drama mixed in. There seems to be a battle of the mascots taking place, as RETRO FOX, a brand known for its wily fox logo, has come under attack by Lacoste. The Fox has been revived from its heyday in the 1960s and 1970s and will return under the label Retro Fox this spring. RETRO FOX received a cease and desist letter from Lacoste after the company ran ads in fashion trade magazines and on the back of taxis in Las Vegas that read "See you later alligator" and featured a fox nipping at the tail of an alligator. Lacoste claims the tail in question is that of a Le Croc, the company's famous mascot. Retro Fox has naturally taken the stand that its ad says alligator, not crocodile, two similar, yet clearly different animals (not to me - where is Steve Irwin when I need him?). RETRO FOX will run a large version of the ad on the Long Island Expressway and on NYC bustails beginning in December. The campaign was created in-house and is scheduled to run through December.

An ad campaign launched earlier this month recalls the glory days of Manhattan's past by featuring the city's newest rising stars of business dining at the same Gallagher's Steak House tables once occupied by senators and presidents. Josh Hadar, former owner of Studio 54 and Peter I. Bernstein, the youngest partner at the law firm of Scully Scott Murphy & Presser, are among the leading young powerbrokers featured in the campaign. Created by May Sky, the campaign will continue into 2005 and features more than 10 accomplished young business leaders. The ads appear in The New York Times, Crains NY Business,and the NY Law Journal, among others.

Reuters has launched its first ever brand campaign to raise the profile of the Reuters UK Web site. The UK campaign focuses on the strength of the Reuters brand as a leading news and information provider, based on a reputation for accurate and independent reporting. A series of online ads invite users to get their "news from the source" by visiting, and feature scrolling news headlines of the latest financial and markets stories only available to consumers via the site. The four week online campaign will appear on a range of news and financial information sites, including the first ever use of transitional ads on the London Stock Exchange Web site. The ads are also running on,, Sky News, and Money AM. The campaign was created in-house.

In an effort to further drive enrollments, itraffic launched an interactive campaign for BrownCo, the online brokerage service of JPMorgan Asset Management. The "What You Want" campaign targets experienced traders online to increase awareness of BrownCo's streamlined service. Full-page banner and box units will run on financial sites including CBSMarketWatch, SmartMoney, and TheStreet through the end of 2004. The ads are running in conjunction with BrownCo's print and TV spots.

Global Investment Systems, a supplier of specialized accounting software for the securities and alternative investment industries, unveiled a print campaign introducing its complete suite of fund applications, and also incorporated a new creative direction that will be carried across all future marketing elements. The print ads take readers from the office to the beach, and from the office to the golf course, sending the message that you can relax because GIS is taking care of everything back at the office. The campaign uses the tag line, "Another Satisfied GIS Client," and will run in such publications as Money Management Executive and International Fund Investment in both the U.S. and the U.K. Sigma Group created the campaign.

In Web site launches this week:

This is a fun site.Borders Books and Music has launched GIFTMIXER3000. The Borders Books and Music Giftmixer3000 is similar to an audio mixer but instead of bass and treble to come up with just the right sound, you mix the personality traits of the gift receiver to get just the right gift. There are five mixer controls from romantic to funny. As you make adjustments, Giftmixer3000 adds commentary. The Giftmixer was promoted via an e-mail that was sent out to millions of Borders e-mail subscribers (I got mine!). Created by Crispin Porter + Bogusky, the objective is to drive traffic to Borders online holiday catalog and the brick-and-mortar stores.

Enlighten has redesigned its company Web site. The site reflects the agency's new positioning line "Be Experienced," and introduces the company's expanded service offerings, as well as an extensive library of case studies. Each case study includes a synopsis, interactive tour, and downloadable PDF. Plans for further site enhancements are underway and expected to launch in the first quarter of 2005. has launched. Designed by DigiKnow, the site offers a wide range of murals that can make rooms cheerful, serene and cozy, or spacious. The site offers a variety of images to purchase from, along with a key feature to consumers, the capability to customize a mural from an existing picture or artwork into a full-size wall mural. Decorating tips are also available from on staff designers that offer consumers advice on latest trends in home décor.

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