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ESPN Fumbles on 'The Rick'

March 05, 1998|DENISE GELLENE

Advertiser: ESPN

Agency: Ground Zero, Santa Monica

Challenge: Maintain the insider flavor of ESPN in spots for its ESPNews channel for sports junkies.

The Ads: In eight television commercials, a grubby sports fan calling himself "The Rick" muses about his sports memorabilia collection and his addiction to sports. In one spot, The Rick displays a basketball net covertly obtained for $15 from the grounds crew at North Carolina State. In another commercial, he shows off his sports figurines, which he insists, are "not toys, not dolls." As he plays with a racing car set in another commercial, The Rick defends his hobbies while dismissing other pastimes, such as reading Kafka, declaring the plot of "Metamorphosis" concerns a man turning into a cocker spaniel.

Comment: In these spots, aimed at sports fans and cable programmers alike, The Rick comes off as a genuine sportsaholic. But his obsession lacks the zany quality of sports fanatics depicted in ads for other ESPN services. It seems The Rick needs to get a life--or at least a shower. $$

*

Ads are rated from $ to $$$$, based on tastefulness and probable effectiveness, with $$$$ being highest.

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