As Eli Manning declares his plans to visit Disneyland, and New Yorkers bask in the afterglow of our ticker tape parade, I am still recovering from two intense weeks that were the Australian Open. (That’s tennis for those less obsessed than I.)
Thanks to ESPN2 and my Time Warner Cable DVR, I awoke every morning for two weeks to a Christmas morning of sorts, full of 10 some hours of tennis coverage. Putting aside the incredible athleticism, the fit and attractive main characters and the fashion considerations, just the fact that I had a window into beautiful summer weather made the tournament an uplifting addiction.
But there was more to it than that. When you spend so much time observing the drama that was those two weeks, it is only natural to have thoughts that beg to be shared. Shared with someone. Friends, yes, but also, my blog. (In great part because I have not had a chance to write in a while, so this offers great inspiration.)
So, some observations. We know that psychology is important to sports and that tennis, in particular, is as much a head game as a game of skill. In fact, I had the opportunity to have dinner with Tracy Austin a few years ago at which time she acknowledged that a primary reason she won her first U.S. Open is that she was too young to know what a big deal it was.
So back to the observations. Andre Agassiz observed that tennis is like life. And like Russian dolls. Points make up games. Games make up sets. Sets make up matches. Matches make up tournaments – in the same way that seconds make up minutes, make up hours and so on. And what I find so interesting is that as hard as you fight for a particular point or game or set, when it is over, you are back to square one. A set won 6-0 is equivalent to a set won 7-6 in a grueling tiebreaker. Hence, when a match is tied 1-1, it is completely equal. Except for this. The player who won the second set is pumped, even deliriously happy as when Nadal fell to his knees after winning the fourth set of the finals. And the player who won the first set, who came out of the gate flying, is dejected, frustrated, even angry. I noticed this especially when the young 21-year-old Canadian player Raonic was playing the “old” 30-year-old Layton Hewitt. Going into the break between the second and third sets, Raonic looked distraught and Hewitt invigorated. But, from a scoreboard point of view, they were equal. That’s what they mean when they talk about “momentum.”
What else? Well, if it is not already the case, then Novak Djokovic’s girlfriend (Jelena Ristic) needs to be approached by a clothing manufacturer or designer for product placement. All the players have logos galore, but she, who seems to be on screen more than anyone other than the two players, is left to her own impeccable taste to decide how to dress. (By the way, she’s gorgeous if you were not aware.) This is a missed sponsorship opportunity.
And, how about those tennis fashions? For some reason Adidas felt compelled to subject those they sponsor to a disturbing combination of peach and coral that even men on the courts in Central Park remembered two weeks later. My nephew, who plays wheelchair tennis competitively, tells me it’s because the manufacturers want to show off bright colors at this first summer event. But I found it cruel. It took me a while, by the way, to understand why so many players were wearing the exact same dress or style. At first I thought they might be from the same Eastern European nation. Then I realized it was Adidas. I imagine they feel that by having multiple players, who may not make it very far into the tournament, wear the same outfit, they get similar air time as they would if a highly seeded player wore it for many rounds. That said, the fact that the women’s tennis has become a game of “your guess is as good as mine” makes it hard to predict who might actually have significant airtime. Even Sharapova, who made it to the finals, went down in a quite brief 6-3 6-0 match.
But let’s get back to Nadal. Nadal has become my inspiration. Yes, he’s cute and cuddly and muscular and fit and a magnificent athlete… wait, where was I? Ah, right, inspiration. As one of the commentators observed, Nadal plays every point as if it is match point. No matter how unlikely it seems that he might win – as with the, sigh, U.S. Open of last year, he will never lose hope. He will never stop fighting. If Nadal (oh, and Djokovic too) can play a 6 hour final match, then I can (in theory), run for 45 minutes on the treadmill, or hold that tortuous yoga pose until the instructor lets me (please, for G-d’s sake) move on. So, somehow, even when Nadal loses. (And, don’t get me wrong, I’m still in mourning for this year’s final), I feel somehow inspired.
To expand upon that point, I have friends who are not Nadal fans. I don’t fully get it, but it’s true. Many are Federer fans. And I can appreciate that. He’s a class act. But it does make me wonder what makes someone a Nadal fan and others a Federer fan. (Putting Novak aside for the moment.) They are, after all, different. Nadal is wearing bright swaths of color. Lime green and sporty blue – on simple (high tech) t-shirts. Federer’s shirts all have collars. (Federer has Rolex as his sponsor.) But I love Nadal. He’s PASSIONATE. And he’s physical in a warm way. When Federer first lost to him and was crying, Nadal put his arm around Federer’s neck and his head on his shoulder. (I could die!) When Nadal passed Novak on the grounds of the Ossie open, he patted his back rather than just shaking his hand. It’s these little things that appeal to me.
So, back to fashion. What’s up with the mismatched yet coordinated wristbands. One blue, one white. One black, one red. I don’t know. I can’t think of the colors, but it’s a thing. Someone ordained it. They take the colors from the tennis outfit and break them out into two wristbands. This meant, of course, that when Novak switched from his white shirt to his black shirt in the second or third set – also an interesting move – his blue wristband didn’t make sense, as it was not reflected in the shirt.
So…. what was supposed to be a quick post feels like it could go on and on – much like the 6 hour final, so I must end it somewhat arbitrarily and abruptly. I hope you’ve enjoyed my tennis musings – brought to you thanks to the coverage of ESPN2 (and the Tennis Channel) and the DVR functionality of Time Warner Cable.
I can’t help it! When I’m watching “The Big Bang Theory,” and Leonard’s “Mom” holds her soda can just a little too long and a little too high, and the can remains visible for 5 minutes of the show, then it must be a product placement. It’s a bit of a game, a bit of an art to spot, so I’m reopening my log of potential spottings. I hope you’ll join me. (See also part I of this compilation: ”Spot the Placement; Place the Spot”)
- How I Met Your Mother – Ted has already used Bing (the search engine) twice before the first commercial break. Once to look up the route from their bar to a steakhouse where Woody Allen is eating and then to look up the website where people rate their professors. (October 11, 2010)
- Big Bang Theory – Fresca, Fanta, Fiji Water- in the lunchroom at work – all other beverages have no labels; Fiji water especially well placed – full on label exposure.However, watching episodes a year after I wrote this bullet, it seems that the product placement was there when the episode was new but not for repeats. Is that possible (see below)
- America’s Got Talent, June 22-ish, 2010 – Filmed at Universal Theme Park in Orlando. As with Ugly Betty below, lots of opportunities for shameless promotion and touring of the park, e.g., the host on the rollercoaster or next to the Jaws shark.
- Reality shows are fantastic venues for product integration. The book “Buyology” has some great examples, however, about how brands can overshadow each other in programs like “American Idol.”
- Rules of Engagement, June 7th, 2010 – Kiehl’s moisturizer on Audrey’s nightstand. Could be for character definition. In any case, awfully prominent, as in the only thing on the nightstand, just inside the shot and positioned so that you could read the label.
What do you think? Is Kiehl’s helping to define Audrey’s character, or is CBS helping to promote Kiehl’s?
- Colbert Report, June 8th, 2010 – Colbert wearing a lab coat with a big Lexus logo on the back during piece about Consumer Reports.
- Colbert Report, June 7th, 2010 – Microsoft’s Bing search engine agreed to donate $2,500 to a charity of Stephen’s choice every time he said the word, “bing.” The show raised $100,000 for the Gulf of America Fund.
- Ugly Betty and the Atlantis Paradise Island resort – the December 4th episode was one long, albeit beautiful, advertorial for the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas, interrupted only by, well, ads for the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas. There was even an entire scene designed around the famous water slide. If it weren’t for the MEMORABLE footage of the dastardly but oh so hot Connor Owens wearing minimal wardrobe, it might have been too much. Ugly Betty is a great vehicle for brand integration. And I understand that the Latin American version, which takes place in an advertising agency, milks the product placement cow even more completely.
- Big Bang Theory, September 21, 2009 – new Diet Pepsi can – 3rd act of “Big Bang Theory.” The can is – for me – one of five characters in the scene.
- Big Bang Theory, September 22, 2011. Interesting to me that they drink Fiji water in the cafeteria but always have it facing the other way.
- Millionaire Matchmaker: 2011 NYC season – interesting interstitial in which she goes on a shoe shopping binge at Jeffreys. Seemed natural at first; then it made me wonder. She likes dropping names. She went with her stylus/make up artist friend. I suspect she was promoting her as well. Reality TV – the advertising gods gift to brand integration.
- Chips Ahoy cookies in the new Planet of the Apes film. A key plot element. (September 30, 2011)
- Boardwalk Empire – Canadian Club. I saw a beautifully done window “billboard” on the glass of Beacon Liquor next to the Beacon Theater – has the appearance of being etched into the glass. (October 1, 2011) Arresting – at least to me – and despite unfortunate placement of window pane. However, evidentially controversial:Through a marketing partnership with Canadian Club, which HBO calls “a brand authentic to the period,” the pay-TV network has been placing Boardwalk Empire displays and window signs in some real-world liquor stores and wine shops. The campaign also includes bar events, such as re-created speakeasies featuring a special cocktail menu. According to HBO Vice President of Brand Marketing Chris Spadaccini, the in-store displays feature crates of liquor with Canadian Club product and branding for the show. Some liquor store signs for the series have the appearance of being etched into the window glass.”Window displays are essentially street-level billboards, so these types of advertisements are helpful in reaching a broad audience,” Spadaccini said in an email about the ad campaign.But that approach — using liquor stores to target a wide range of consumers — marks what’s wrong with the campaign, according to David Jernigan, associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the director of the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth. “These are sources that children pass on the way to school. They can’t be turned off,” Jernigan says of the window displays, adding this campaign marks the first time he’s heard of a TV show advertising in liquor-store windows”See full article from DailyFinance:http://srph.it/hvwAiE
- Yes… but they’re not showing alcohol in the displays, just club soda. Thoughts?
- Glee and the Gap: The Feb. 8 episode of “Glee” had an extensive musical scene set in a Gap store
- Revenge TV Show promoting itself within bars and restaurants in the Hamptons – where the program is set
- I don’t believe that premium channels like Showtime sell product placement opportunities. However, if they did, I would spot a lot – including Dexter’s altercation with a Nescafe coffee machine. (Is Nescafe still around?)
- Colbert, Colbert, Colbert. He is the king of product placement.
For more examples, check out: Spot the Placement, Place the Spot