Monday, August 31, 2009
The Final Countdown: 3
I told you there would be gaps in this countdown, and to my credit I’ve kept them from being massive, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that another pair of numbers didn’t make the list. Sorry about that numbers five and four, I’m sure something nice would have accompanied you. But we must push on, so now just three days away from college football, the countdown is drawing to a close. We’ve covered a lot of areas in the SEC, but outside of predictions, which will be coming in the next two days, there’s one area we haven’t discussed. And that brings us to sponsors of the SEC.
When I first wrote the headline to this post, I saw the number three sticking out and it immediately reminded me of the days when ESPN was in the business of making movies and they introduced the world to the movie 3, which was the story of Dale Earnhardt. As I thought about the absurdity of the movie and the humor I got out of it, I was reminded of the insanity related to sponsorships in NASCAR (now found in all sports). Literally, anything that can hold a logo, a name or tag line has one plastered across it. The front of a driver’s jumpsuit has more advertisements on it than you would see in four hours of watching TV. And if NASCAR showed crotch shots on TV, then you’d see advertisements there. Thankfully they don’t show those.
As companies started to realize the value of advertising during and on live SEC football games since something like 207% of people in the Southeast are watching, these NASCAR-like advertisements started popping up everywhere. The first down line, the on-screen scoreboard and halftime segments. And though CBS did have some sponsors, mainly halftime and stat recaps, they did not do it with the NASCAR flair that the now extinct Jefferson Pilot/whatever else it was called did.
So in honor of 3, outlandish advertising practices and the number three in the countdown, here are three of Jefferson Pilot’s biggest NASCAR-like advertisers.
Texas Pete Hot Sauce
One of the first sponsors on JP to appear during game action, the Texas Pete logo could always be found by the scoreboard in the upper left hand corner of the TV screen. Although JP was behind by at least seven years in developing the on-screen scoreboard, they had to be one of the first to advertise on it. I’ve never had Texas Pete so I can’t vouch for the quality, nor can I tell you where it can be found, as I am not much for hot sauces (meaning I don’t know how far and where they distribute). But I can tell you that thanks to Jefferson Pilot, I recognize that logo anywhere and know instantly that it’s a hot sauce.
I’m kind of surprised they never expanded their advertising outside of the on-screen scoreboard since so much else was available. The front pocket of Dave Rowe’s short-sleeved white shirt, Buzz Baker’s chair on the sidelines, the crest of Dave Neal’s coat and they could have gotten Dave Rowe to stutter through a 15 second live read where he talks about why he enjoys Texas Pete on his food. I’m telling you, they really missed the boat here.
Don Panchos (or maybe Ponchos)
Since I can’t remember if it was Panchos or Ponchos and can’t remember if it was a restaurant or a place that sold Mexican food to grocery stores and restaurants, I’m just going to call it Don Panchos and avoid calling it a restaurant or a supplier of fine Mexican food products.
Don Panchos was the one advertiser that had the guts to go after Texas Pete’s territory in advertising on the on-screen scoreboard. For a while it seemed like Texas Pete had a monopoly there, but then Don Panchos slowly started to make some inroads. I think they started off only getting some airtime during the middle of the first and third quarters while Texas Pete held on to the prime time spots of the beginning, close to halftime and the end of games. After a season or two, Don Panchos soon found itself splitting time with Texas Pete. It wasn’t exactly Microsoft versus Apple, but it was quite the regional advertising battle.
The on-screen first down line first appeared on television in 1998 during an NFL broadcast, and something like eight years later, the technology finally made its way to Jefferson Pilot. I don’t think JP would have ever installed the line had Nexium not put up the cash to get the line on a broadcast with a giant purple pill next to it, but thankfully for all of us they accepted Nexium’s money. And actually, the purple line was sort of revolutionary. Every other network (I realize referring to Jefferson Pilot as a network is a loose use of the term, but bear with me) had a standard yellow line with no advertising. JP not only had a line, but its purple color stood out and they made money by bringing the line to viewers.
Although 99.999999999999999999999999999999% of JP viewers couldn’t spell or tell you what Nexium was for other than it was some kind of purple medicine-drug, Nexium certainly got its name known throughout the Southeast. And their advertising dollars eventually lead to JP coughing up the money to invest in HD broadcasts, which in a delicious bit of irony, arrived the season before they lost the contract to televise SEC football and basketball games.
Posted by Gray at 3:37 PM