Peyton and Eli Manning, Dikembe Mutombo and Jason Sudekis star in some of the best sports commercials of 2013.
Sports and TV go hand-in-hand, and it’s not just the games we’re watching. Advertisers caught on long ago that fans like to wear the same shoes as their favorite athletes, eat and drink what they eat and drink and drive what they drive.
It’s gone beyond food, footwear and soft drinks, though. Athletes are pitching everything from insurance to TV packages and everything in between. Some are good, some are meh and some are downright dreadful.
Here’s a look at some of our favorites.
“Happier than Dikembe Mutombo blocking a shot” – (Geico)
Geico has put together a few memorable ads in the past few years, but for sports fans who remember retired shot-blocker Dikembe Mutombo, this may have been the favorite. The former NBA and Georgetown intimidator (who spent some time with the Knicks and Nets) goes around swatting away attempts in everyday situations like toll booth change, laundry and even a box of cereal into a shopping cart, much to his (and the viewers’) delight.
Jason Sudekis in “An American Coach in London” – (Premier League on NBC)
The former SNL funnyman plays football coach Ted Lasso who is hired to coach “futbol” across the pond in a commercial for the Premier League on NBC. Some of the best moments: “We’re gonna play hard for all four quarters… (after being corrected) OK, OK two halves.” And: “Ties and no playoffs? Again, my job just got a lot easier. Why do you even do this?”
“Football on your phone” starring Peyton and Eli Manning – (DirecTV)
Say what you want about the Manning brothers, but they aren’t afraid to embarrass themselves for the amusement of the commercial-watching public. Throw Archie in there too. Funniest part of this ad is, the song isn’t half bad, except, you know, for the Manning vocals.
“Heisman House: Flashback” – (Nissan)
Just like it sounds, the concept is a house only for Heisman winners. In perhaps the best one of the series, Sam Bradford and Robert Griffin III pull up in their college jerseys and make fun of Desmond Howard and Barry Sanders. RG3 says “Lemonade on the front porch, what are you guys, 80?” In the flashback, Sanders and Howard are the youngsters — complete with flat tops and zubaz (and overalls for Howard). They pull up blasting Rob Bass’ “It Takes Two,” when Howard feeds Tony Dorsett and Earl Campbell the same line, but only with a Fresh Prince-style handshake afterward. “Kids these days, Earl.”
“That Premier Feeling” – (Carlsberg)
The beer company turned a sports cliche — that the season is a rollercoaster — into one of the best spots that you probably have never seen. Set in the middle of nowhere, Premier League fans, players and announcers ride a winding rollercoaster with play-by-play announcers capturing the stomach-turning excitement of an English Premier League season.
“Hear What you want” – (Beats by Dre Headphones)
Kevin Garnett (and Colin Kaepernick in a different ad) start off hearing critics, then opposing fans rip them, until the headphones go on. The world is blocked out — even after taking them off. The tag line states: “Hear what you want.” Very effective, but maybe the point would have been driven home even more if the ad starred A-Rod?
“Jingle Hoops” – (NBA’s Christmas Day Uniforms)
OK, so this one is clearly digitally enhanced, but it’s still a cool idea. Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Stephen Curry, James Harden and Steve Nash play “Jingle Bells” by swishing shots through hoops with bells tied to them. Bonus points for LeBron James swooping in with a dunk to punctuate the “Hey!” note.
“The Future of the NBA” – (NBA on TNT)
The Thunder beating the Heat in the 2014 NBA title? Kobe Bryant retiring? Phil Jackson coaching the Knicks? James Harden as MVP? LeBron James winning the Slam Dunk contest? Derrick Rose breaking Michael Jordan’s Bulls franchise scoring record? It all happened — in this commercial with the use of some creative video tactics. This ad has a short shelf life, but it was fun to imagine.
“State of Turbulence” – (StateFarm)
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers (The Discount Double Check Guy!) meets the SNL Chicago Bears SuperFans on a plane. High jinks ensue. There are a few of these, one starring SuperFan god DITKA!