This Vitalis hair tonic ad featuring Frank Gifford ran in “Sports Illustrated” magazine, October 1959 – and likely other publications as well.
Athletes in modern times – especially as they become celebrity figures – are often recruited to do advertising for any number of commercial products. Some- times they are also sought out for political endorsements or as spokespersons for various social causes. A few also make their way into the media or Hollywood, extending their celebrity beyond their active sports careers.
Frank Gifford, a talented football player for the New York Giants in the 1950s and 1960s, became a popular figure in the New York city metro area and nationally both during and after his active playing career. Gifford not only became a familiar face in magazine and TV advertising, but also one of the first professional athletes to successfully venture into TV sports broadcasting. Well beyond his playing days, Frank Gifford would extend his celebrity for many years as a sports announcer, first for CBS on radio and TV, and later for ABC-TV’s popular Monday Night Football program.
Gifford’s notice as a public figure, in fact, would span nearly six decades, during which he became a pitchman for dozens of products – from shaving cream and hair tonic to clothing lines, as well as a celebrity draw for CBS Radio and ABC-TV.
Frank Gifford, No. 16, in action as New York Giants battle St. Louis Cardinals, 1960. Photo, George Silk/Life.
An All-American college player at the University of Southern California (USC), Gifford was drafted by the New York Giants in 1952 and excelled there for 12 seasons, becoming an All-Pro performer and a popular sports icon. In the 1959 hair tonic ad above, Gifford is shown in his Giants football attire, being subject to “the white glove test” for the “greasless Vitalis” hair product. Vitalis Hair Tonic, produced by Bristol-Meyers from the 1940s, became a popular hair treatment for men, and advertising using celebrities helped boost sales. Says the ad’s copy:
“…Frank Gifford, New York Giants, All Pro halfback, has dry, stubborn hair. Creams and cream-oils threw it for a loss… plastered it down, left greasy stains. Now Frank signals for Vitalis. No more grease-down hair, no more messy stains. Vitalis took the grease out of hair tonic. Put in V-7, the greasless grooming discovery. It keeps your hair neat all day, leaves no greasy stains as leading creams and cream-oils do. And Vitalis protects against dry hair and scalp, fights embarrassing dandruff… Try Vitalis yourself….today!
1996: Sportscaster celebrities Al Michaels, Frank Gifford, and Bob Costas appear in “milk mustache” ad campaign.
Flash forward forty years to the late 1990s and Frank Gifford is still found in commercial ads. Here, at right, he appears in a “milk mustache” magazine ad that ran in 1996 and 1997 – part of an ongoing campaign sponsored by the National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board using celebrity figures to help sell milk. In the ad, Gifford is flanked by fellow TV celebrity sportscasters, Al Michaels left, and Bob Costas right. Gifford would share broadcasting time with these and other colleagues during his 27-year career in sports broadcasting. More on Gifford’s sportscasting history a bit later.
Even in his college days as a gridiron standout at the USC, Frank Gifford received national notice in general-circulation and sports magazines, including Life magazine which featured a photo sequence of one of Gifford’s touchdown runs against the University of California in a famous November 1951 game.
Magazine and newspaper coverage during his college and pro careers helped keep Frank Gifford in the public eye. And owing to his good looks and landing in the New York media market, Gifford would have continuing good fortune, not only in advertising, but also in TV and film. In his earlier years, as a student in California, Gifford landed some bit parts in Hollywood films, including appearances as a football player in That’s My Boy in 1951 and The All American, with Tony Curtis, released in 1953. He also appeared in Sally and St. Anne and Bonzo Goes to College, both in 1952, the latter a sequel to the Ronald Reagan film, Bedtime for Bonzo.
Dec. 1956: Frank Gifford with TV show host, John Daily, taking questions from celebrity panel trying to guess Gifford’s line of work on quiz show,“What’s My Line?”
In December 1956, after he had been with the Giants for a few seasons, Gifford appeared as a guest contestant on the then-popular TV quiz show, What’s My Line?, where a panel of four celebrities would ask a series of questions trying to determine the guest’s occupation. Broadcast out of New York, the show had a national following. When Gifford signed in on the chalk board as he came on stage that evening for What’s My Line — as was the usual procedure for that show – he used the name “F. Newton Gifford.”
After a few rounds of questions, and some excitement over Gifford’s youthful good looks by actress panelist Arlene Francis, the panel figured out he was Frank Gifford, football star of the New York Giants, who earlier that day in fact, had a banner performance with four touchdowns in a game against the Washington Redskins.
1950s: New York Giants star halfback, Frank Gifford, being interviewed in mock locker-room halftime scene in TV ad endorsing Florida orange juice.
Also in the mid-1950s, Gifford appeared in a TV commercial for Florida orange juice in his Giants uniform. In this appearance, the spot was set up with some newsreel footage of Gifford catching a pass for a touchdown. The scene then cut to the locker room, supposedly at “half time,” where star Frank Gifford was partaking in his half-time refreshment, a glass of Florida orange juice.
An announcer with microphone then appears, and begins interviewing Gifford, commending him on his first half play, then launching into the virtues of Florida orange juice, with Frank making a few comments before the scene cuts to the announcer making a final appeal for Florida orange juice.
Frank Gifford in a Vitalis Hair tonic ad that appeared in Life magazine, November 25, 1957.
An earlier Vitalis hair tonic ad from 1957 featured Gifford in “before and after” photos, as shown at right. “Frank Gifford’s hair looks like this after a New York Giants football game…” — says ad’s copy on the first photo, showing Gifford in his game face and roughed-up playing attire, hair tousled. Then comes the “after” photo showing a cleaned-up, well-groomed Gifford in coat and tie, as the caption adds – “…like this after Vitalis.” A headline running across the page beneath both photos continues the Vitalis pitch: “New greaseless way to keep your hair neat all day…and prevent dryness.”
The ad’s copy also quotes Gifford pitching the product as follows: “I don’t know which is worse for your hair – a hot helmut or a hot shower,” says halfback Frank Gifford. “I get plenty of both so I always use Vitalis. My hair stays neat, and Vitalis isn’t greasy.” Then the ad copy continues: “The secret is V-7. This new grooming discovery is greaseless, so you never have a too-slick, plastered-down look. Along with V-7, new Vitalis blends refreshing alcohol and other ingredients to give you superb protection against dry hair and scalp – whether they’re caused by wind, sun or you morning shower. Try new Vitalis with V-7 soon (Tomorrow, for instance.).” Then for the housewife contingent, two smaller photos show a lady holding a pillow, one soiled, the other clean, with appropriate captions: “Does your husband use a greasy tonic that stains pillowcases like this? Greaseless Vitalis leaves pillow cases clean – like this.”
1958: Gifford sweater ad.
1965: Jantzen swimwear ad.
1960s: Gifford, beach wear.
1962: Jantzen sweater ad.
Gifford also became a model for the Jantzen brand of clothing during the 1950s and 1960s. Jantzen, a company founded in Portland, Oregon from a small knitting business in the 1910s, grew to become a world wide operation by the 1930s, known mostly for women’s swimwear, but by the 1950s, had also established a mens’ line of clothing. From 1957 through the late 1960s – during his playing years and after – Frank Gifford appeared in dozens of clothing, sportswear, and swim wear ads for the Jantzen brand. In the early round of these ads, Gifford appeared by himself, usually donning sweaters. In other Jantzen ads, Gifford appeared with one or more fellow professional athletes, including: Bobby Hull, ice hockey player; Jerry West, basketball star; football competitor, Paul Hornung of the Green Bay Packers; and others. In the 1965 Jantzen swim wear ad, above right, Gifford appears in a beach scene with a surf board and three others – John Severson, a surfer and then publisher of Surfer magazine; Boston Celtics basketball star, Bob Cousy; and Terry Baker, then a famous former quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner from Oregon State University. Other Jantzen swimwear and/or beachwear ads in this period also included Gifford with one or more other athletes, as seen in the 3rd photo here bottom left, with Gifford in the foreground and the others in the background. In the 1962 Jantzen sweater ad at bottom right, Gifford is seated reading a mock headline about his running back rival, Paul Hornung (who won the MVP award in 1961), while Bob Cousy and pro golfer Ken Venturi stand behind him.
September 1962: Frank Gifford of the New York Giants, featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
Being a football star, Gifford remained in the public eye as newspaper and magazine stories were written about his play. In September 1962, as the New York Giants were having one of their best seasons with Gifford’s help, he appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated. During his 12 seasons with the New York Giants, Gifford as a running back had 3,609 rushing yards and 34 touchdowns in 840 carries. As a receiver he had 367 catches for 5,434 yards and 43 touchdowns. And finally, throwing the ball, Gifford completed 29 of the 63 passes for 823 yards and 14 touchdowns, the most among any non-quarterback in NFL history. He made eight Pro Bowl appearances during his career and also played in five NFL Championship games. Gifford’s biggest season may have been 1956, when he won the Most Valuable Player award of the NFL, and led the Giants to the NFL title over the Chicago Bears. Gifford also played in the famous December 1958 championship game between the New York Giants and the Baltimore Colts – a nationally-televised game that went into sudden death overtime, a game which many believe ushered in the modern era of big-time, television-hyped, pro football.
1966: Frank Gifford featured in CBS Radio ad.
After his playing days ended, Gifford became a full-time broadcast commentator for NFL games, first on CBS radio and later, CBS television. Gifford’s broadcasting career had actually started in 1957 while he was still playing halfback for the New York Giants. He was a commentator for CBS on the NFL pre-game show and joined the CBS staff in 1961 as a part-time sports reporter.
In 1964, Gifford retired from his successful football career with the Giants and remained well-known and well-regarded in the New York area and nationally.
In 1965, CBS hired him full time to cover pro football, college basketball and golf. Gifford stayed with CBS for six years – and as the CBS Radio ad at left shows, the network wasn’t shy about using his football celebrity to lure listeners and sponsors.
Another CBS Radio ad that ran in the 1960s had Gifford featured with three other CBS Radio personalities – Art Linkletter, Amy Van Buren of “Dear Abby” fame, and commentator Lowell Thomas – “Four Good Reasons to Turn to Your CBS Radio Station,” as the CBS ad tagline put it.
Film & TV
Frank Gifford, foreground, plays Ensign Cy Mount, shown here injured, in the 1959 James Garner film “Up Periscope.”
Earlier in his career, while still a prominent football star, Gifford landed a few minor film and TV acting roles. In the 1958 WWII film, Darby’s Rangers, which starred James Garner, he appeared as one of a number of young soldiers.
Gifford had a named role in another James Garner film, Up Periscope in 1959, a WWII submarine drama in which Gifford played Ensign Cy Mount, and is shown in one scene (at right) propped up on a stretcher, shirtless and wounded. In television, Gifford appeared in the Shirley Booth sitcom Hazel for a 1963 episode titled, “Hazel and the Halfback.”
1968: Alan Alda, left, visits with Maxine and Frank Gifford, right, in a scene from the film, “Paper Lion.”
In 1964, Gifford made a second appearance on the TV quiz show, What’s My Line?, this time as a celebrity panelist asking the questions. In 1965, Gifford was approached to play the lead role in a Tarzan film, but that role later went to Mike Henry.
In 1968, he and his then-wife Maxine appeared in the film, Paper Lion, based on the 1966 nonfiction book by American writer George Plimpton, who spends time as a player with the Detroit Lions to do an insider’s account of how an average American male might fare in professional football. In the film Alan Alda played Plimpton and Gifford and his wife appeared as themselves in one scene as shown at left.
As a CBS sportscaster, Frank Gifford landed some notable interviews, here with Mickey Mantle in 1966.
During Gifford’s broadcasting years with CBS Radio and TV, he interviewed a range of celebrity athletes and coaches, not only in football, but also in other sports. In June 1966, he interviewed New York Yankee great, Mickey Mantle, then nearing the end of his career.
Gifford, reportedly, did not think much of Mantle, though he did figure into a bit of early Mickey Mantle baseball lore. That story involves a long home run Mantle hit as a Yankee rookie when he was 19 years old – a home run rumored to have traveled 550 feet or so.
In a May 1951 spring training game played at the University of Southern California, Mantle hit two home runs – one of which cleared the fences there and kept on going, landing in the middle of an adjacent football field, according to Gifford, who was then in spring football training with his college team on that field.
Gifford & Vice Lombardi, pre-Superbowl I, January 1967.
In January 1967, Gifford landed a big pre-kickoff interview at the first Superbowl game between the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs. On the field, Gifford interviewed Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi for the nationally-televised game.
As a former New York Giants running back, Gifford had played under Lombardi when Lombardi was the Giants’ offensive coordinator under head coach Jim Lee Howell, helping lead the Giants to their 1956 championship.
Howell was from an earlier football era and used the single-wing formation. Lombardi helped modernize the Giants’ attack by introducing the T-formation.
1970: Frank Gifford interviewing Kansas City quarterback Len Dawson following Superbowl IV.
Gifford also had a notable post-game interview following the famous 1967 NFL championship game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers, the game leading up to Superbowl II. Played at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin under frigid conditions — a game known as the “ice bowl” — the Packers won the game with a famous running play behind the blocking of famed Packer lineman Jerry Kramer.
At the game’s conclusion, CBS announcer Gifford got the go ahead to go into the losing Cowboys’ locker room for on-air post-game interview – a practice unheard of in that era. Gifford sought out Dallas quarterback Don Meredith, who Gifford knew, for his thoughts on the game. The Meredith interview, emotional but thoughtful, received considerable attention, and would later become a factor in Meredith’s own broadcasting career. In the photo at right, Gifford is shown interviewing quarterback Len Dawson of the Kansas City Chiefs following Superbowl IV.
A Frank Gifford pro football guide book, from 1968.
By the late 1960s, Gifford’s name also began appearing on annual football guide books – Frank Gifford’s NFL-AFL Football Guide For 1968 (shown at left), and a similar volume for 1969, were published by Signet Books. The guides featured rosters, schedules, and forecasts for the upcoming pro seasons, with team summaries, description of the playoff system, and other football information.
Also in 1969, there was a book about Gifford written by William Wallace – Frank Gifford: His Golden Year, 1956 – the year Gifford won the most valuable player award, then known as the Jim Thorpe Memorial Trophy. The Wallace book included an introduction by Gifford’s former Giants’ coach and then famous Green Bay Packer leader, Vince Lombardi.
The book came at a time when Gifford – then retired from the game since 1962 – was building a following as “one of the better sportscasters on WCBS-TV,” as Kirkus Reviews described Gifford in a short summary of the Wallace book (see “Sources” section at end of story for cover photo of this book).
Ads, Film, TV, Books, Etc.
1970s: Frank Gifford appearing in a Dry Sack sherry ad.
Screenshot from a Planters Nuts TV ad featuring Frank Gifford.
1979: Dry Sack from Spain
1979: Planters Mixed Nuts
1982: TV Ads: Planters Nuts
1984: GQ, Cover
1984: Nabisco Brands, w/Bobby Orr
1984: Nabisco Brands, w/D. Meredith
1991: Buick “Super Drivers” Sales Brochure
1993: Book: The Whole Ten Yards
1993: TV: Carnival Cruise w Kathie Lee
1996: “Milk Mustache”w/Michaels & Costas
1996: Film: Jerry Maguire, bit part, himself
2008: Book: The Glory Game _______________________
Not a complete list.
Monday Night Football
Frank Gifford, right, joined “Monday Nigh Football” broad-casters Howard Cosell, center, and Don Meredith in 1971.
In the 1970s, Frank Gifford’s media star began to shine a lot brighter when he became a member of ABC-TV’s Monday Night Football broadcast team. But before exploring Gifford’s role there, a little history on the origins of the Monday night program.
The idea for televising professional football games on Monday night had first started with NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle. Rozelle had experimented with one non-televised Monday night game in September 1964 when the Green Bay Packers played the Detroit Lions in a game that drew a sellout crowd of 59,203 to Tiger Stadium, the largest crowd ever to watch a professional football game in Detroit up to that point. Rozelle then followed up with a few televised Monday night games in prime time over the next four years – two NFL games on CBS for the 1966 and 1967 seasons, followed by two AFL Monday night games on NBC in 1968 and 1969. But neither CBS or NBC would sign a contract for a full season of televised Monday night games, as they feared a disruption of existing programming.
Roone Arledge is credited with helping make “Monday Night Football” an entertainment spectacle and a financial success.
ABC, then the lowest rated of the three broadcast networks, and also not entirely enthusiastic about the idea, nevertheless agreed to a contract after Rozelle threatened to go to the Hughes Sports Network, a move that would have caused some ABC affiliates to abandoned ABC on game nights.
After the ABC deal was made, ABC producer Roone Arledge – who had already created ABC’s Wide World of Sports in 1961 – began to see big potential for the Monday Night Football program. Arledge is credited with turning the program into an entertainment and sports broadcast “spectacle” – expanding the regular two-man broadcasting team to three members; using twice the usual number of cameras to cover the game; using shots of the crowd, cheerleaders and coaches as well as closeups of the players; and instituting lots of graphics and technical innovations such as “instant replay.”
The first ABC Monday Night Football game – between the New York Jets and the Cleveland Browns in Cleveland – aired on Sept. 21, 1970. Advertisers were charged $65,000 per minute (a fraction of what they now pay ). The broadcast was a smashing success, collecting an eye-popping 33 percent of the viewing audience. Those numbers pleased the program’s early sponsors, such as the Ford Motor Company. Monday Night Football was on its way.
1971: “Monday Night Football” broadcast team of Howard Cosell, Don Meredith and Frank Gifford.
The first broadcast trio for Monday Night Football included Howard Cosell, Keith Jackson, and Don Meredith. Frank Gifford had been Roone Arledge’s original choice for the third member of the broadcast team, but Gifford was then still working with CBS. But Arledge was a friend of Gifford’s and a golfing buddy. Gifford suggested that Arledge offer Meredith the job, the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback.
By 1971, however, Gifford replaced Keith Jackson as the play-by-play announcer on Monday Night Football (this trio is shown on the TV Guide cover at left). Thus began a nationally prominent role for Gifford that would last more than two decades in one role or another at Monday Night Football. Gifford, in fact, would become the longest-serving member of an ever-changing cast of characters on the Monday Night Football broadcast team – ranging from Alex Karas and Fran Tarkenton for periods in the 1970s, to O. J. Simpson, Joe Namath, Dan Dierdorf, and Michaels in the 1980s. In 1987, Gifford and Al Michaels – who had done the show as a twosome for two seasons – were joined by Dan Dierdorf. This Monday Night Football trio would last for 11 seasons, through the end of the 1997 season.
There were some memorable moments in the Monday Night Football broadcast booth, as on December 9, 1974, when the unlikely pair of former Beatle John Lennon and California governor Ronald Reagan entered the booth. Lennon was interviewed by Howard Cosell and Gifford was talking with Reagan, who later proceeded to explain the rules of American football to Lennon as the game went along, though off camera. Six years later on December 8th, 1980, during the Monday night game between Miami Dolphins and the New England Patriots, it would be Howard Cosell who announced a news bulletin to a stunned nation that John Lennon had been assassinated that night in New York city by gunman Mark David Chapman.
Frank Gifford, circa 1970s.
August 1988: Gifford on the field prior to a Miami Dolphins - Washington Redskins game.
In later years, there was some probing of the Monday Night Football empire, as a book by Marc Gunther and Bill Carter titled Monday Night Mayhem, reported that with Roone Arledge in control, the show was making lots of money for ABC, and its principals were treated well, with parties, limousines, and more. But by 1985, Monday Night Football was sliding in the ratings, beaten on occasion by Farrah Fawcett movies on NBC and other shows. Roone Arledge by then had moved on, and in the following year in the wake of the Cap Cities takeover of ABC, new management arrived. Gifford was moved out of his play-by-play role, replaced by Al Michaels.
But through it all, Gifford had a loyal following of viewers who liked him because of his low-keyed style, projecting a straight-arrow kind of guy, honest and sincere. Still, Gifford had his share of critics, some charging that he wasn’t critical enough of the players. “I don’t pay attention to the critics,” he said in a 1987 Los Angeles Times interview. “I have to please the audience… I know what I am. That’s more important than reading what others think. I know this game. I’ve always studied it, and I continue to do my homework.” Gifford added that he probably spent more time preparing to televise a game than he did preparing as a player. But the critics persisted, some calling his style boring or that he was too much of a company man. “I’ve been accused of being everything from [plain] vanilla to being a shill for the National Football League,” he said in a 1994 interview with the Christian Science Monitor. “Some people think that you can’t be doing a good job unless you are bombastic and critical…. I don’t know where that concept ever came up in journalism.” As for the “star” quality that may have come to the Monday Night Football broadcasters, Gifford sought to disabuse viewers of that notion. In a September 1994 interview with Mark Kram of Knight-Ridder newspapers, Gifford explained that “the success of Monday Night Football has little to do with the announcers in the booth.” Rather, as Gifford then put it: “We are a success because football is the No. 1 sport in America, and that Monday evenings give people a chance to extend the weekend. I, as an announcer, can only reflect what has been placed on the stage, so to speak. We do not create it.”
Feb 1984 “GQ” cover featured Frank Gifford with story: “Gifford Keeps His Balance.”
Gifford also appeared on other ABC sports programs, including Olympic Games coverage from 1972 to 1988, ABC’s Wide World of Sports, and he also did various sports personality profiles and TV specials. Gifford also put out another book in 1976 – Gifford on Courage: Ten Unforgettable True Stories of Heroism in Modern Sports – written with Charles Mangel. This book included profiles of sports figures, among them: Herb Score, Rocky Bleier, Charley Boswell, Don Klosterman, Floyd Layne, Charley Conerly, Y.A. Tittle, Dan Gable, Willis Reed, and Ken Venturi.
Gifford continued to be of interest as a sports celebrity and television personality, occasionally featured in magazines, such as the February 1984 GQ cover story shown at left (GQ, Gentlemen’s Quarterly, is a publication of the Newhouse family-owned Condé Naste publications). The GQ story was written by Frederick Exley, who had been following Gifford’s career since the days when both were students at USC. In television, Gifford sometimes appeared as a guest or a guest host on non-sports TV shows, including ABC-TV’s Good Morning America, where he met his third wife, Kathie Lee Johnson, a popular TV host. The two were married in 1986 and would have two children together. Throughout the late 1980s and the 1990s, millions of morning-TV viewers who watched ABC’s Live with Regis and Kathie Lee, would often hear Kathie Lee Gifford’s descriptions of life at home with her sportscaster husband and their two children. Gifford and his wife also appeared together on TV occasionally, as they did when hosting the nightly wrap-up segments on ABC during the 1988 Winter Olympics.
Frank Gifford’s 1993 auto- biography.
In 1993, Gifford published his autobiography, The Whole Ten Yards, with help from Newsweek’s Harry Waters. Kirkus Reviews called the book “a measured, straightforward, good-natured piece of work…”
In the book, Gifford includes profiles of his former Monday Night Football colleagues Howard Cosell, Don Meredith, Dan Dierdorf and Al Michaels, calling Michaels at one point “the best play-by-play man in the business.” There are also profiles of Vince Lombardi, Paul Brown, and former teammates Sam Huff, Y.A. Tittle, Charlie Conerly, and Kyle Rote, as well as opponents such as Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown, Chicago Bears tight end, Mike Ditka, and Philadelphia Eagles linebacker, Chuck Bednarik.
The book also covers Gifford’s reminiscences of late 1950′s New York nightlife – all of which help to paint an engaging portrayal of New York football and its related social profile during that era.
June 1997: People magazine featured the Giffords on its cover following the affair.
In 1995, Frank Gifford was given the Pete Rozelle Award by the Pro Football Hall of Fame for his NFL television work. But two years later, in May 1997, some of the luster of Gifford’s career and celebrity became tarnished after it was revealed that he had an affair with a former airline stewardess, Suzen Johnson. A round of negative press followed, with magazine and tabloid front-page coverage, including a June 1997 People magazine cover story shown at left with photo and headline that read, “Kathie Lee’s Crisis, Will She Stand By Her Man?”
A November 1997 Playboy story also ran with Suzen Johnson on the cover. And some New York media talk shows and radio programs — including Howard Stern’s radio show, which had engaged in a running critique of Kathie Lee Gifford for years – also covered the story. Stern at one point threatened to air tapes of the tryst until the move was blocked in court. It was later revealed that The Globe, the North American supermarket tabloid that originally broke the story, had arranged to have Gifford secretly videotaped being seduced by the former flight attendant in a New York City hotel room.
Tagline for ABC’s 20/20 show on the Gifford affair: “Love. Fidelity. Broken Promises. Staying together, Kathie Lee and Frank Gifford talk about it all for the first time. Exclusively with Diane Sawyer.”
In follow-up stories, ESPN and others reported that The Globe tabloid had paid Johnson $75,000 to lure Gifford to the room, while The Atlantic placed the amount at $125,000. There was also an appearance by Gifford and Kathie Lee on ABC-TV’s 20/20 show in May 2000 when the couple was interviewed by Diane Sawyer, with Frank admitting the tryst was “stupid” and Kathie Lee offering grudging forgiveness. The Giffords had faced controversy before, in 1996 when a clothing line sold by Kathie Lee was accused of using sweatshop labor. Kathie Lee Gifford subsequently worked with government regulators to investigate the situation and she also worked to support and enact laws to protect children against sweatshop conditions.
Such incidents aside, however, the Giffords, throughout their careers, have been involved with various charities and social causes. Frank Gifford had served as chairman of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of New York and in 1984 the society established a $100,000 research grant in his name. And Kathie Lee Gifford regularly makes appearances at fund raisers and events for the non-profit organization ChildHelp, which works for the prevention and treatment of child abuse.
Still, the 1997 stewardess affair was a major blow to the Giffords and to Frank Gifford’s image. In 1998, following the incident, Gifford was given a reduced role on the Monday Night Football pre-game show. Boomer Esiason, 36, then the Cincinnati Bengals’ quarterback, quit active play to join the show. After that, and with 22 years of serving as a sportscaster there, Gifford left Monday Night Football, though he would continue to have other TV work. And on other projects, he focused on football history.
In 2008, Frank Gifford, with Peter Richmond, published “The Glory Game,” about famous 1958 game.
In 2008, Gifford published with Peter Richmond, The Glory Game: How The 1958 NFL Championship Changed Football Forever. Gifford’s account of the famous sudden-death overtime game between the New York Giants and Baltimore Colts in which he and 14 other later-elected Hall of Fame players and coaches did battle. Gifford acknowledged that he had two costly fumbles in that game, but he also caught a pass for a key touchdown that had put the Giant’s in the lead, 17-14. Gifford was at the center of a crucial 3rd down play with less than three minutes remaining in that game. The Giants, then at their own 40 yard-line, needed four yards for a first down, which would have given them the game, as with a new set of downs they could have run out the clock. But on the 3rd down play, Gifford got the call, running the ball outside for a gain before he was tackled, though sure he made enough yardage for the first down. In the play, there was some added commotion and distraction, as Colts lineman, Gino Marchetti, was calling out in pain after he had broken his ankle. Referee Ron Gibbs, who spotted the ball amid the concern over Marchetti, placed it short of the first down marker, and the Giants were forced to punt. That gave the Colts a chance to tie, and ultimately win, the game, which went into sudden death overtime. But in his book, Gifford writes: “I still feel to this day, and will always feel, that I got the first down that would have let us run out the clock. And given us the title.” Gifford would later learn that the referee involved also believed he likely had made a bad spot.
See also at this website, “Bednarik-Gifford Lore,” a story which tracks the football backgrounds of the two pro players who met in a famous gridiron collision in November 1960 that changed both their lives. For other sports stories at this website see the Annals of Sport category page, or for other story choices, see the Celebrity & Icons page or the Madison Avenue page. Thanks for visiting — and please consider supporting this website. Thank you. – Jack Doyle
Article Citation: Jack Doyle, “Celebrity Gifford: 1950s-2000s,” PopHistoryDig.com, January 5, 2014.
Sources, Links & Additional Information
Cover photo from Don Smith’s 1960 book on Frank Gifford, published by New York’s G. P. Putnam's Sons.
CBS Radio ad of the mid-1960s featuring Frank Gifford as one of the network’s notable on-air personalities.
1969: Cover of William Wallace’s book on Frank Gifford’s “Golden Year” of 1956; paperback edition.
June 1969: Sportscasters Pat Summerall & Frank Gifford (c), listen as Joe Namath (r) announces his retirement from pro football at his Bachelors III nightclub due to dispute with the NFL over his ownership of the club. On July 18, he announced he sold the bar and was coming back out of retirement. Click photo to visit Namath story.
June 1983: Christopher Reeve, Frank Gifford & President Ronald Reagan at White House reception & picnic for Special Olympics program, Diplomatic Reception Room.
July 1985: Joe Namath, left, Roone Arledge, center, with Frank Gifford at news conference announcing Namath’s joining "Monday Night Football." AP / M. Lederhandler.
Nov 29, 1990: Kathie Lee & Frank Gifford with former Vice President Dan Quayle at ASA Hall of Fame dinner.
Frank & Kathie Lee Gifford with their son, early 1990s.
Jack Cavanaugh's 2008 book, "Giants Among Men."
13 Oct 1963: Frank Gifford of the New York Giants about to catch a pass from quarterback Y. A. Tittle in game against the Cleveland Browns played in New York.
“Rough Day in Berkeley: A Zany Season Reaches Climax As Southern Cal Tips California Off Top of Football Heap,” Life (with photo sequence of Frank Gifford’s 69-yard run), October 29, November, 1951, pp. 22-27.
“Landry, Gifford and Rote to Pass For Giants in Game With Redskins,” New York Times, Sports, December 3, 1952.
“Revamped Giants to Face Steelers; Gifford Shifted From Defense to Offense for Contest at Polo Grounds Today,” New York Times, November 15, 1953.
“Gifford Drills 2 Ways; Giants’ Back Again May Play Dual Role Against Redskins,” New York Times, November 19, 1953
“Gifford at Quarterback For Giants in Workout,” New York Times, July 25, 1956.
“Conerly’s Pitch-Out to Gifford Rated as Key to Team’s Victory,” New York Times, October 29, 1956.
Louis Effrat/Ernest Sisto, “Giants Beat Eagles and Move into a First-Place Tie… Strong Defense Helps Giants Win …Conerly Passes Click; Gifford Makes Catch…,” New York Times, October 29, 1956.
Gay Talese, “Gifford Sandwiches Football Between Sidelines; Giants’ Top Ground Gainer Also Is a Movie Bit Player,” New York Times, November 4, 1956.
Louis Effrat, “Gifford Scores Three Touchdowns as Giants Beat Redskins Before 46,351; New Yorkers Win at Stadium, 28-14 Giants Avenge Earlier Loss to Redskins and Virtually Clinch Conference Title,” New York Times, December 3, 1956
Louis Effrat, “Giants Gain Title in East, Checking Eagle Team, 21-7; Capture Division Honors for First Time in 10 Years as Gifford Paces Attack ..,” New York Times, December 16, 1956.
“7 Giants Chosen on All-Star Club; Conerly and Gifford Among Players Named for Bowl Football Game Jan. 13,” New York Times, December 18, 1956.
“Gifford Named in Poll; Back Is Voted Pro Football’s Most Valuable Player,” New York Times, January 8, 1957.
William J. Briordy, “Gifford Receives a Rise in Salary; Football Giants’ Star Back Accepts $20,000 – Grier Is Inducted Into Army,” New York Times, January 29, 1957
“Giant Eleven Sends Lions to Their First Shutout Defeat in Five Seasons; Patton, Gifford Pace 17-0 Success; They Get Giant Touchdowns on Long Runs as Lions Lose Third Straight; Lions Fail to Threaten; Conerly Passes Click,” New York Times, September 23, 1957
Frederick Exley, “The Natural” (article on Frank Gifford), GQ, February 1984.
Michael Goodwin, “Sports People; Gifford Stays in Lineup,” New York Times, May 14,1986.
Martie Zad, “Frank Gifford: Monday Night Football’s Long-Distance Runner,” Los Angeles Times, December 6, 1987.
Steve Nidetz, “Gifford Goes Long In The Monday Game,” Chicago Tribune, October 23, 1988.
Frank Gifford and Harry Waters, Jr., The Whole Ten Yards, New York: Random House, 1993,
Tom Stieghorst, “Men Are Targets Of Carnival Cruise Lines Advertisements,” Sun Sentinel, April 10, 1993.
Steve Nidetz, “Gifford Book Serves Up Vanilla – But With Lumps,” Chicago Tribune, October 25, 1993.
Bill Fleischman, “Gifford’s Book Perfectly Frank,” Daily News (Philadelphia, PA) December 6, 1993.
Mark Kram, Knight-Ridder Newspapers, “They Were Giants During Their Playing Days And . . . They’re Still Giants In The TV Booth; Frank Gifford’s `Silver Spoon’ Image Belies His Childhood Out Of `The Grapes Of Wrath’,” Chicago Tribune, September 25, 1994.
This full-page newspaper ad – with the New York Giants endorsing R.J. Reynolds’ Camel cigarette brand – appeared in the New York Times and other papers in early October 1933.
In the annals of audacious tobacco advertising, the 1933 newspaper ad at right for Camel cigarettes ranks pretty close to the top. Indeed, the claims and endorsements made in this ad seem pretty outrageous by today’s standards — also stating that “21 of 23 Giants …smoke Camels.” In other words, an entire sports team – or very nearly that – was used in this ad to endorse the Camel cigarette brand. And this was no ordinary team, but rather, professional baseball’s Word Series champions that year, the victorious New York Giants.
Tobacco advertising in the 1930s was in its heyday – and from the 1920s through the 1950s there was little restriction on the over-the-top claims being made about tobacco’s safety or its human health effects. This ad, in fact, suggested health benefits – i.e., “healthy nerves,” with several endorsing stars making similar statements.
Baseball players and other sports figures had appeared in tobacco ads before, but in the 1930s their appearance in such ads became more common. It was also in the 1930s that tobacco companies began depicting medical doctors in ads, touting the safety of cigarettes. Still, to see an ad like the one shown here, invoking nearly an entire sports team to promote cigarette sales, and making health claims to boot, is pretty striking. Yet this was a much different era, and health-effects knowledge was not what it is today.
Enlarged section from above ad showing pack of Camel cigarettes.
A few years piror to this ad, R. J. Reynolds, the producer of Camels, had fallen to No. 2 among cigarette brands. Lucky Strike, a cigarette brand produced by the American Tobacco Co., was the No. 1. brand. The competition for cigarette sales and market share had become keen. It was in 1933 that R. J. Reynolds began using sports stars in its advertising. Baseball was then the nation’s most popular professional sport, with more than 10 million people attending games annually. Enlisting the World Series champs to your brand would indeed provide a helpful boost. In 1933, however, the Great Depression was ravaging the nation.
Franklin D. Roosevelt had been elected president in the November 1932 elections, but was not sworn in until March of 1933, then the inaugural custom. Roosevelt faced an unemployment rate of more than 23 percent, thousands of bank failures, and a GNP that had fallen by more than 30 percent. FDR would launch his New Deal in the years that followed, with a flurry of actions and new agencies coming in 1933.
The official program for the 1933 World Series, depicting managers Joe Cronin of Washington, left, and Bill Terry of New York, right.
Despite the hard times, there was optimism that a “Roosevelt recovery” was on the way. Congress had also introduced a bill to repeal prohibition, meaning alcohol would flow again, as it did legally by year’s end. Baseball, meanwhile, continued pretty much as it always had, though adding for the first time that July, an All Star game with the best players from National and American league teams in an annual game against one another. Then that fall came the 1933 World Series.
1933 World Series
The 1933 World Series pitted the National League’s Giants against the American League’s Washington Senators, also known as the Washington Nationals. The Giants had 91 wins and 61 losses in the regular season that year, while the Senators had compiled a 99 - 53 record. The Senators were the surprise victors of the American League that year, breaking a seven-year hold on winning the pennant by either the New York Yankees or the Philadelphia Athletics.
The New York Giants’ venerable and long-standing manager, John McGraw, had retired the previous year, with the Giants’ regular first baseman, Bill Terry, taking on the manager’s job. For the Senators, the equally venerable Walter Johnson, the famous pitcher, had also retired from managing in 1932, as the Senators’ regular shortstop, Joe Cronin, became their manager. Both Cronin and Terry are shown at right on a game program from the 1933 World Series. The World Series games that year were carried on NBC and CBS radio.
Oct 5 1933: Franklin D. Roosevelt prepares to throw ceremonial baseball at Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C. at Game 3 of the 1933 World Series. Directly right of FDR is Washington manager Joe Cronin and New York manager Bill Terry. AP photo.
When the Series moved to Washington, D.C. for Game 3 after the first two games had been played at New York’s Polo Grounds, President Roosevelt threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Griffith Stadium. Throughout the Series, the Giants’ pitching proved the difference, with Carl Hubbell and Hal Schumacher turning in stellar performances. The Giants took the best–of-seven Series in five games, winning their first championship since 1922. The final game of the 1933 World Series was played on Saturday, October 7th at Griffith Stadium, with the Giants winning 4-3. Mel Ott hit two home runs that game, the final one coming in the top of the tenth inning, providing the margin for victory. Two days later, the Camel cigarette ad shown above began appearing in newspapers around the country.
The Camel Ad
Enlarged baseball with Camels endorsement from ad above.
The main headline in the Camel ad proclaims, “It Takes Healthy Nerves To Win The World Series,” with copy to follow that suggests cigarette smoking provided a beneficial help to the World Series victors. An enlarged baseball directly diretly left of the headline states, “21 out of 23 Giants – World Champions – Smoke Camels,” suggesting there must be some connection and/or advantage to smoking Camels and winning championship games, especially since nearly the whole team is involved. A Giants team photo also appears at the top of the ad, followed below by a series of photos of individual Giants’ stars making Camel testimonials. More on those in a moment. At the bottom of the ad, is the company’s narrative message, which runs as follows:
Well, the returns are in. Congratulations to the new World Champions—the Giants! Rated by the experts as a hopeless contender, this amazing team, playing under inspired leadership, fought successfully through one of the hardest National League races in years. . .and again the under dog, went on to win the World Series. It takes healthy nerves to play “better baseball than you know how.” It takes healthy nerves to go on winning day after day through crucial series after series. . .delivering time after time in the pinches. It means something when you discover that 21 out of 23 Giants smoke Camel cigarettes. These men, to whom healthy nerves are all-important, have found that Camel’s costlier tobaccos not only taste better, but also they never interfere with training. . .never jangle the nerves.
New York Giants’ players featured in the Oct 1933 Camel ad: Bill Terry top, and from left, ‘Blondy’ Ryan, Hal Schumacher, Carl Hubbell & Mel Ott.
At the center of this ad, below the team photo and the enlarged baseball, photographs of five of the Giants’ players appear, each offering a sentence or two endorsing the Camel brand, beginning with Giants’ player/ manager Bill Terry, shown in the circular photo. Considered one of the game’s greatest players, Bill Terry (1898-1989), was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1954.
Terry is most remembered for being the last National League player to hit .400, a feat he accomplished in 1930, hitting .401. The Giants would retire Terry’s uniform No. 3 in 1984, and it is posted today at AT&T Park in San Francisco. In the Camel ad, Terry, then team manager, is quoted as saying: “Great Team Work and healthy nerves carried us to the top. A check-up of the team shows that 21 out of 23 of the World Champion Giants smoke Camels.”
Carl Hubbell would become one of the game’s great pitchers.
Next in the sequence of Camel endorsers, comes “Blondy” Ryan. John Collins Ryan (1906-1959) played shortstop in the major leagues from 1930to 1938, and is remembered primarily for his fielding and excellent play in the 1933 World Series. Ryan was also ninth in MVP voting for the 1933 regular season. In the Camel ad, he is the first player shown on the left offering his testimonial. “I long ago learned that Camels are the cigarette for me,” says Ryan in the ad. “I like Camels better, and they don’t get on my nerves.” Harold “Hal” Schumacher (1910-1993), one of the key Giants’ pitchers through the 1933 season and the World Series, comes next in the Camel ad: “I prefer Camels,” he says. “I am a steady smoker of Camels and they never give me jumpy nerves or a ‘cigarettey’ aftertaste.” Schumacher played with the Giants from 1931 to 1946, compiling a 158-121 win–loss record. He was also a two-time All Star selection.
Carl Hubbell (1903-1988), shown in the photo above, was a valuable left-handed pitcher for the Giants and a key player in their 1933 World Series championship. Hubbell comes next in the Camel ad. “I can’t risk getting ruffled nerves so I smoke Camels,” he is quoted as saying. “I like their mildness and I know they won’t interfere with healthy nerves.” Hubbell played with the Giants from 1928 to 1943, and remained with the team in various capacities for the rest of his life, even after the Giants moved to San Francisco. Hubbell, a nine-time All Star, was twice voted the National League’s Most Valuable Player. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1947. Hubbell is also remembered for his appearance in the 1934 All-Star Game, when he struck out five of the game’s great hitters in succession – Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin – setting a longstanding All-Star Game record for consecutive strikeouts. Hubbell was the first NL player to have his number retired, which is also displayed at AT&T Park.
The New York Giants’ Mel Ott, one of baseball’s greatest hitters.
Next in the line of five Giants’ players endorsing Camel cigarettes is Mel Ott (1909-1958), the hitting star of the 1933 World Series. In game 1 of that Series, he had four hits, including a two-run home run. In game 5, he drove in the Series-winning run with two outs in the top of the 10th inning, driving a pitch into the center-field bleachers for a home run. “Jumpy nerves and home runs don’t go together,” Ott is credited with saying in the 1933 Camels ad. “So I stick to my Camels when I get a minute to enjoy a smoke.” Ott played his entire career (1926-1947) with the New York Giants as an outfielder. At 5′ 9″and 170 lbs, he was a surprisingly powerful hitter. He was the first National League player to surpass 500 home runs. In his 22-year career, Ott compiled a .304 batting average with 2,876 hits, 511 home runs, 1,860 runs batted in (RBIs), a .414 on base percentage, and a .533 slugging average.
Top Celebrities. Baseball stars such as Mel Ott and Carl Hubbell – and other famous athletes of that era – were among the most publicly-visible and sought-after celebrities of their day. Broadway and Hollywood also had their share of stars, and these celebrities were also sought for product endorsements, including tobacco, and some of those are covered elsewhere at this website. Still, the “celebrity factor” in the 1930s wasn’t quite as intense or ubiquitous as it is today, as there was no television, no internet, no “Dancing With Stars” or “American Idol”– and no 24-7 media machine. In that era, in fact, World Series baseball stars were regarded as top-of-the-line celebrities, considered among the biggest “gets” of their day, prized by marketers.
Following the 1934 World Series, with the St. Louis Cardinals as champions, a similar Camel advertising pitch was used.
In fact, in the following year, 1934, the same “World Series baseball team” pitch for Camels was used again by R.J. Reynolds, this time featuring the 1934 St. Louis Cardinals, who won the Series that year. As in the Giant’s ad, the “21-of-23-players-smoke-Camels” phrase was used, and five St. Louis players made endorsements, including” the famous pitching brothers, “Dizzy” Dean and Paul Dean; Joe “Ducky” Medwick, power hitter; and “Pepper” Martin and “Rip” Collins. Player Manager Frank Frisch provided the set-up in this ad, also given a by-line as if reporting: “They sure made it hot for us this year, but the Cardinals came through in great style clear to the end when we needed every ounce of energy to win. We needed it—and we had it. There’s the story in a nutshell. It seems as though the team line up just as well on their smoking habits as they do on the ball field. Here’s our line-up on smoking: 21 out of 23 of the Cardinals prefer Camels.” Pepper Martin added: “I like Camels because when I light one I can actually feel all tiredness slip away.” And Rip Collins claimed: “A Camel has a way of ‘turning on’ my energy. And when I’m tired I notice they help me to snap back quickly.” Dizzy Dean added: “A Camel sure brings back your energy after a hard game or when you’re tired, and Camels never frazzle the nerves.”
R.J. Reynolds, for its part, was then engaged in a fierce advertising battle with American Tobacco for the top spot of the cigarette market, and its move in the 1930s to use baseball players and other athletes endorsing the Camel cigarette brand, helped the company regain its top-of-the-market position.
Louis Vuitton’s June 2010 magazine ad featuring soccer greats Pelé, Zidane and Maradona, photographed by Annie Leibovitz.
In 2010, continuing a long line of contemporary advertising using famous celebrities, luxury bag maker Louis Vuitton had photographer Annie Leibo- vitz do a photo shoot of three of the world’s most famous soccer stars: Pelé of Brazil, Diego Maradona of Argentina, and Zinedine Zidane of France. The setting for the photo shoot and the ad, shown at right, was the Café Maravillas, a typical bar in Madrid, Spain, where the three famous footballers are engaged in a spirited game of table-top foosball.
In the background of the ad are Louis Vuitton bags, one monogrammed with the initials “Z.Z.” for Zinedine Zidane. The tagline for the ad reads: “Three great journeys, one historic game.” Antoine Arnault, Vuitton’s media person at the time of the ad’s release, explained: “What true football fan has not dreamt of seeing these three living legends – Pelé, Maradona and Zidane – play each other?”
A series of the Vuitton ads with the famous soccer greats appeared in magazines and also online in the months leading up to the World Cup matches in June 2010, heading into the championship games in South Africa.
Vuitton’s “soccer legends” ad appear- ed on the back cover of Time’s June 2010 World Cup edition.
Time magazine featured the World Cup games on the cover of a special June 2010 edition, which also included the above ad on the magazine’s back cover. Earlier copies of Time had run the same ad in the early front pages of the magazine. Other magazines all over the world also gave the Vuitton ad similar play at about the same time.
Louis Vuitton, for those who may not know, is a venerable fashion brand that began in 1894. Today it is a $2 billion company with 9,000 plus employees worldwide. The Vuitton label is well known for its “LV” monogram found on most of its products, which include luxury trunks and leather goods, shoes, watches, jewelry, accessories, sunglasses, and books. Vuitton is one of the world’s leading international fashion houses – and its ads in recent years have become well known for their celebrity and superstar subjects — Madonna, Jennifer Lopez, Gisele Bundchen, Bono, Sean Connery, and Mikhail Gorbachev among them. Other athletes, such as tennis stars Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf, have also appeared in Vuitton ads, but with the soccer stars, Vuitton was reaching for a broader and perhaps, more “everyman” audience.
Horizontal version of the Louis Vuitton “soccer greats” ad, also used for a related Louis Vuitton website campaign.
Getting the three soccer legends to appear in the same ad was something of coup, which Vuitton’s Antoine Arnault acknowledged, saying the company was honored to have them participate in its advertising campaign. In addition to the magazine ads, Vuitton also had a dedicated website — louisvuittonjour- neys.com — where a featured conver- sation between the three players was included, in which they discussed their careers, recalled great matches they had played, and exchanged views on the world of soccer. Part of the story line at the website had Pelé and Zidane challenging each other to a match of table foosball. The ad, in any case, was likely a hit with soccer fans. What follows below are three brief profiles of each of the famous soccer legends.
French soccer star Zinedine Zidane is regarded as one of the best to have played World Cup soccer.
French soccer star Zinedine Zidane was born in 1972 to Algerian parents. He grew up in the modest suburbs of Marseilles after his parents left Algeria. Zidane played his first junior championship soccer at the age 14. Today, he is widely regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of World Cup soccer and has played for club teams in France, Italy and Spain. France won the World Cup in 1998 with a team full of immigrant players, with Zidane becoming an icon, especially among the poor. But French fans and players generally love him, not only for the 1998 World Cup but also the 2000 European Championship. He retired briefly thereafter, but soon returned to the French national team in 2005. He was captain of the French team in 2006, leading them in the World Cup Final where he won the Golden Ball as the tournament’s most outstanding player. Alongside Brazil’s soccer star, Ronaldo, Zidane is the only other three-time FIFA World Player of the Year winner. Zidane, however, had a bit of controversy toward the end of his career in a famous incident in which he head-butted Italy’s Marco Materazzi in chest during the 2006 World Cup Final in Berlin, and was thrown out of the game. Zidane maintained he was goaded by Materazzi, who had made a slur on Zidane’s sister, provoking Zidane’s action, which he later said was to defend “the honor of a Muslim woman.” Zidane, who had retired with that game, performed three days of community service to meet his penalty, while Materazzi later apologized publicly to Zidane for his slur. Although Zidane retired from professional football after the 2006 World Cup, he continued to play for the Real Madrid veterans team.
In 2004, Forbes magazine named Zidane the 42nd-highest paid athlete in the world, with earnings of $15.8 million a year. He has had endorsement deals with a number of prominent companies, including: Adidas, Lego, France Telecom, Orange, Audi, Volvic mineral water and Christian Dior. Zidane’s endorsement deals have continued beyond his playing days, remaining a sought-after icon, especially in France, appearing in advertising for Danone, France Telecom, Generali insurance, and Grand Optical eyewear, among others.
In retirement, Zidane has also participated in charity soccer events in various countries around the world. In 2010 he was appointed as an ambassador for Qatar’s attempt to host the 2022 World Cup, a bid they won in December 2010. Zidane was also appointed as a special adviser to Real Madrid’s first team in 2010.
Diego Maradona as a young “juniors” player in 1980.
Diego Maradona, born in 1960, rose from the slums of Buenos Aires to become one of Argentina’s most famous and controversial soccer stars. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest football players of all time. Over the course of his professional career Maradona set world-record contract fees for his soccer-playing abilities. Playing for Argentina he earned 91 caps and scored 34 goals. He played in four FIFA World Cup tournaments, including the 1986 tournament, in which he captained Argentina’s team and led them to their victory over West Germany in the final. He also won the Golden Ball award as the tournament’s best player. In that tournament’s quarterfinal round, he scored two remarkable goals in a 2–1 victory over England, one of which has been described as a “spectacular 60-metre weave through six England players.” In Maradona lore this feat is also known by many as “The Goal of the Century”.
Diego Maradona bringing championship to Argentina.
Maradona’s stardom in his Argentina homeland has risen at times to the “super-celebrity” level, something beyond mere sports heroism approaching idolatry, with some calling him “God,” the star having a near religious following in some areas. The Houston Chronicle wrote of him in June 2010:
“To understand the gargantuan shadow Maradona casts over his soccer-mad homeland, one has to conjure up the athleticism of Michael Jordan, the power of Babe Ruth — and the human fallibility of Mike Tyson. Lump them together in a single barrel-chested man with shaggy black hair and you have El Diego, idol to the millions who call him D10S, a mashup of his playing number and the Spanish word for God.”
Maradona as photographed in recent years.
Maradona has also had stadiums named for him and he has hosted his own TV talk show. His playing career, however, had it share of controversies. He was suspended for 15 months in 1991 after failing a doping test for cocaine in Italy, and was sent home from the 1994 World Cup in the USA for using ephedrine.
After retiring at age 37 in 1997, he increasingly suffered ill health, gained weight, and battled cocaine addiction. A 2005 stomach stapling operation helped control his weight and he overcame his cocaine addiction, becoming a popular TV host in Argentina. Although he had little previous managerial experience, he became head coach of the Argentina national soccer team in November 2008, remaining there through July 2010. In late October 2010, Puma, the athletic shoe and sports gear manufacturer, put on a major celebration for Maradona’s 50th birthday, also then introducing a new line of athletic wares in his name.
Pelé shown in action in 1958 World Cup soccer match.
Few athletes in any sport have reached the pinnacle of stardom and global recognition as that of Brazil’s Pelé, the singular name this world soccer star came to be known by during his playing years and for decades thereafter. Pelé came to represent in soccer what Muhammad Ali was to boxing: an international icon who transcended his sport and his country. Born in 1940 as Edison “Edson” Arantes do Nascimento, a child of Brazilian Portuguese decent, Pelé grew up in poverty in São Paulo. He earned extra money by working in tea shops as a servant. Taught to play by his coach, he could not afford a proper football, playing sometimes with a newspaper-stuffed sock tied with string, a grapefruit, or some other improvised “ball.” Today, according to polls taken among football experts, fans, and former players, Pelé is consistently ranked as one of the greatest soccer players of all time.
Pelé, Brazil’s soccer legend, shown in some “Pelé Soccer” garb.
In 1956, Pelé joined Brazil’s Santos Football Club and stayed with the club through his retirement in 1974, helping them to nine championships in 18 years. Pelé also played on four Brazilian World Cup teams, including the country’s three World Cup Champions in 1958, 1962 and 1970. The 1958 final was perhaps his most famous match, when Pelé stunned the world scoring six goals, including two in the championship game to help Brazil win its first World Cup 5-2 over Sweden. He was only 17 years-old at the time. In his native Brazil, Pelé is hailed as a national hero, known for his soccer accomplishments and also for his vocal support of public policies to improve the social conditions of the poor. When he scored his 1,000th goal he dedicated it to the poor children of Brazil.
In his career, Pelé scored 760 official goals, 541 in league championships, making him the top scorer of all time. In total during his career, he scored 1,281 goals in 1,363 games – 12 in World Cup final tournaments. During his playing years, he was known variously as “The King of Football,” “The King Pelé” or simply, “The King.” Pelé retired in 1974. However, in 1975, he came our of retirement to play in America for the New York Cosmos team of the new North American Soccer League (NASL). Pelé was paid a $1 million per year when he played for the Cosmos, and some attribute his playing there with helping generate interest in America to make the NASL a going concern. However, Pelé retired in 1977 after leading the Cosmos to the NASL championship.
Pelé shown making his famous “bicycle kick” in competition.
Given his world soccer notoriety, Pelé became one the world’s most formidable marketing forces and something of an international brand. Prime Licensing, a company established by Pele’s friend and businessman, Jose Alves de Araujo, was set up to manage Pele’s various market- ing deals. Prime Licensing managed a number of Pelé product endorsements and contracts, including those with Puma AG, Pelestation, QVC, and Fremantle Media, as well as Pelé brands Pelé L’uomo and Pelé Arena coffee houses. In recent years Pelé has earned an estimated $30 million a year from his businesses and endorsements. He has endorsed products from soccer balls, clothing, and equipment, to aPelé soccer video game. Even though he has been retired for more than three decades, the name Pelé is still synonymous with world-class soccer to millions around the world. And so, his appeal in advertising, especially running up to World Cup games in recent years, has made him one of the world’s top advertising personalities. During the 1994 World Cup, he was featured in a Master Card ad with an orchestra performing the song “America.” During the 2002 World Cup he earned millions doing ads for MasterCard, Pfizer, Petrobas, and Nokia. According to one account, leading up to that event, Pelé appeared in 20 million mailings, 100 World Cup promotions, and at least a dozen TV ads. Among other companies and brands he has represented around the world are: Time Warner, Procter & Gamble, Pizza Hut, Pepsi, and others. But Pelé has also given a part of himself to good causes, including ambassadorial work for various bodies. In the early 1990s, he was appointed a United Nations ambassador for ecology and the environment, and has continued working for good causes since then.
Pelé and Zidane at the photo shoot in Spain for the Louis Vuitton June 2010 ad.
Louis Vuitton, meanwhile, was generally praised for its “soccer legends” ad, some suggesting that bringing the three “soccer gods” together in one frame was enough by itself. Others saw it as a statement for the cooperative spirit of World Cup games as much as it was one for hyping World Cup competition and singing the praises of three soccer greats. Yet Zidane, Maradona, and Pelé have had their differences about the game – all in the spirit of good competition, of course. But in the Vuitton ads at least, it’s only camaraderie and friendly competition that are projected.
A monogrammed Louis Vuitton canvas bag from the ad showing initials “Z.Z.”
Louis Vuitton, of course, is in the business of promoting its “mongrammed luxury lifestyle,” as one observer described the company’s mission. And using the World Cup and three big-name soccer celebrities to help do that – each offering an “everyman” appeal, given their respective roots – was certainly one way to help spread the Vuitton style, or at least the thought of it, to the far corners of the globe. World Cup soccer, in any case, is big business these days. As to which one of the three soccer greats – Zidane, Maradona, or Pelé – is truly the greatest of all time? Well, that debate surely goes on, with national partisans in France, Algeria, Argentina, Brazil all having their favorite, no doubt – as do many throughout the world.
Other stories at this website on advertising or sports can be found at those respective directory pages, or go to the Home page or Archive for additional choices. Thanks for visiting. - Jack Doyle
Note: In 1989, Levi’s, the jeans company, used the Ronettes’ classic 1963
song “Be My Baby” as background music for a TV ad.
Ad story: A good Samaritan in the middle of nowhere, pulls his pick-up
truck over to the side of the road to help a distressed driver tow his over-
heated car to town for a repair. The driver and his lady friend date are
well-dressed, presumably heading out for dinner or a show.
The subplot in this tale, however, is the instant chemistry and eye contact
going on between the Good Samaritan and the distressed driver’s lady com-
panion. A towing fix is made by the Good Samaritan who sheds his 501 Levi
jeans to make a jerry-rigged towing line with the distressed car. The lady,
meanwhile, is beckoned by the Good Samaritan to ride along with him in the
front seat of his truck on the ride to town.
The jerry-rigged, Levi’s towing line, however, “unfortunately” gives out on
the way to town, setting the distressed car and its driver adrift, as the Good
Samaritan and his new lady friend ride off into the sunset….The ad’s fade-
out tagline: “Levis 501: Separates the Men From The Boys.” Cleverly done.
Ronettes & Be My Baby See related story at this website on the history of the Ronettes, 1960s “girl
group,” their song “Be My Baby,”and several others, as well as details about
the success and production of their music, biographical profiles, some of
their performance and personal history, and more – including background
on their producer, Phil Spector, who also married lead Ronettes’ singer,
Ronnie Bennett, in what became a rocky marriage and later, a legal battle.
Note: This 30-second Dennis Hopper TV ad, and the one below,
are two of several he made in 2006-2008 for the Ameriprise
Financial Corp., in which the film star pitches financial planning
to Baby Boomers. Both of these ads use the hard-driving rock ‘n
roll tune, “Gimme Some Lovin” from the 1960s’ Spencer Davis
Group, as background music.
Rock star ‘Sting,’ especially popular through the 1980s and 1990s, cut a deal with the Jaguar car company in 2000 to use his ‘Desert Rose’ song in their TV commercials, helping make the song & its album top hits.
Sting, the rock star, whose real name is Gordon Sumner, is a U.K. musician, popular since the late 1970s. He is the recipient of numerous music awards and has taken home at least 16 Grammys in various categories. He has also been nominated for the best song Oscar. In his musical career, he has had a number of affiliations, among them, as principal songwriter, lead singer, and bass guitar player of the rock band Police. Including his years with Police, as well as his own solo career, Sting has sold over 100 million records worldwide. Among his hits with Police have been: “Message in a Bottle” (1979), “Every Little Thing She Does” (1981), and “Every Breath You Take” (1983). Solo hits have included: “If You Love Somebody Set Them Free” (1985), “We’ll Be Together” (1987), “All This Time” (1991), “If Ever I Lose My Faith in You” (1993), and others. Sting has established himself as an artist pushing out the boundaries of pop music, incorpor- ating elements of jazz, classical, and world music into his writing and songs.
CD cover for 'Desert Rose' maxi single, which includes a Sting duet with Algerian raï singer Cheb Mami.
In the fall of 1999, however, Sting’s Brand New Day album was not exactly setting the music charts on fire. Included on the album was “Desert Rose,” a haunting, calling love song with desert imagery and some Arabic verse. The song is said to have been inspired, in part, by the science fiction novel and movie, Dune, both of which use desert imagery and Arabic language. In the 1984 film version, in fact, Sting had an acting role as the character Feyd Rautha. The song “Desert Rose” includes a Sting duet with Algerian raï singer Cheb Mami, and some reviewers noted the song’s ”world music” flavor. But when Sting and his team tried to get the song played on the radio, they had little success. Sting’s new music, some suggested, was perhaps a bit too sophisticated for normal pop radio. Radio pro- grammers reportedly showed Sting research that supposedly proved listeners did not want to hear “Desert Rose.” That’s when Sting and manager, Miles Copeland, were forced to “plan B,” as they say.
Video Used a Jag
Jaguar S-Type, similar to the one used in 'Desert Rose' video.
Stings’ video maker had shot a music video for the “Desert Rose” song. It featured Sting taking a trip through the desert in a stylish, chauferred car on his way to a nightclub to perform the song with Cheb Mami. The car they chose to shoot the video was a new Jaguar S-Type. In fact, when the video was completed, Sting’s manager, Miles Copeland, thought it looked a lot like a car commercial. He then sent it to Jaguar’s advertising agency and asked them to make their car commercial look like the video in exchange for free use of the song. The Jaguar people loved the tape as soon as they saw it. Sting then licensed “Desert Rose” to Jaguar and the two sides then collaborated on the project for developing the TV commercials, which were similar to the video. (Various versions of the video appear on You Tube and elsewhere.)
Jaguar’s advertising agency, Ogilvy & Mather of New York developed two TV spots – a 30-second and a 60-second version in a campaign they titled, “Sting S-Type.” It first began running on March 20, 2000 in the U.S. By August 2000, the ads began appearing in several international markets as well. The spots used footage from the Sting music video along with previous Jaguar footage. “Everyone dreams of becoming a rock star. What then do rock stars dream of?” – Jaguar’s ‘Sting-S-Type’ TV ad “To have Sting in our car and the ‘Desert Rose’ music behind the product is what marketing executives dream about,” explained Jaguar’s Al Saltiel, general marketing manager. “With the introduction of the S-Type last year and the upcoming launch of the X-400, one of our key strategic goals is to reach a broader market. We believe this campaign will help us do that.” The voice-over in the spots and the ad’s main line – “What do rock stars dream of” – grew out of the lyrics in Sting’s song. “Desert Rose” is based on a dream,” explained Ogilvy & Mather’s Anton Crone, describing the ad’s theme. “And from that we got the line, ‘Everyone dreams of becoming a rock star. What then do rock stars dream of?’ “ The answer: riding in a Jaguar S-Type, of course.
This Jaguar press kit was handed out at the New York International Auto Show 2000. It included ‘Desert Rose’ videos, Jaguar TV ads using the song, a CD-single with three versions of the song, and photos with Sting and car.
In early 2000, at the International Auto Show in New York, Jaguar also handed out and extensive press kit on their Sting and “Desert Rose” collaboration. It included a ‘Desert Rose’ video and two Jaguar TV ads using the song: a 60-second version and a 30-second version. A promotional CD- single was also included in the packet that had three versions of the song – a radio version at 3:54 minutes; an LP verison at 4:46; and a club mix version at 4:44. There were also six 35mm full color transparencies featuring Sting and car, full color sheets of the same photos, and some Jaguar background info. However, the deal between Sting and Jaguar to run the ads raised some eyebrows, considering that Sting was an avid environmentalist who was endorsing a gas-guzzling vehicle. The Jaguar ads, however, helped turn the tide for “Desert Rose” and the album Brand New Day. The ad ran everywhere and people started demanding the song, and it was soon being played on the radio and beyond.
“. . .‘Desert Rose’ was a moderately successful U.K. single, but in the States it became a phenomenon, turning into one of the biggest sleepers for some time,” explains one summary of the song at Sting’s website. The song ran for a good six months on the U.S. music charts and had “top ten” showing all across Europe. “[The Jaguar] TV commercial proved an excellent piece of marketing, with the song being continually exposed to mainstream TV audiences, who got 30 seconds of prime Sting when they least expected it.” The song ran for a good six months on the U.S. music charts and had “top ten” showing all across Europe. It became Sting’s biggest hit in 10 years. It also lifted the album Brand New Day to become one of Sting’s best selling ever. By January 2001, the album had sold more than three million copies (triple platinum). The album also won several Grammys for the year 2000. At the Grammy awards ceremony, Sting performed “Desert Rose” with his collaborator, Cheb Mami.
Desert Rose Sting
I dream of rain
I dream of gardens
in the desert sand
I wake in pain
I dream of love as time runs
through my hand
I dream of fire
Those dreams are tied to a
horse that will never tire
And in the flames
Her shadows play in the
shape of a man’s desire
This desert rose
Each of her veils, a secret promise
This desert flower
No sweet perfume ever tortured
me more than this
And as she turns
This way she moves in the logic
of all my dreams
This fire burns
I realize that nothing’s as it seems
I dream of rain
I dream of gardens in the desert sand
I wake in pain
I dream of love as time runs
through my hand
I dream of rain
I lift my gaze to empty skies above
I close my eyes, this rare perfume
Is the sweet intoxication of her love
I dream of rain
I dream of gardens in the desert sand
I wake in pain
I dream of love as time runs
through my hand
Sweet desert rose
Each of her veils, a secret promise
This desert flower
No sweet perfume ever tortured
me more than this
Sweet desert rose
This memory of Eden haunts us all
This desert flower, this rare perfume
Is the sweet intoxication of the fall
In September 2000, Sting performed the song with Cheb Mami, among others, at a Sting concert in New York’s Central Park before 20,000 fans who were given free tickets by the chain store Best Buy, then making its debut in the New York market. Ann Powers, reporting for TheNew York Times, made the follow- ing observations on the concert and Sting:
…No one seemed the least bothered by Best Buy’s ubiquity at Central Park; such deals do not undermine Sting’s credibility because they are utterly congruous with his image. Sting’s music is the sound of money well spent. His signature mix of torchy balladry and uplifting dance pop can absorb almost any outside influences, and he furnishes his songs with cosmopolitan touches like the Algerian rai music that underlies “Desert Rose” or the Cuban conjunto rhythms that occasionally enlivened Tuesday’s show. It’s the old colonialist way, updated for an age of corporate, rather than state, domination: if you love something, buy it up. It’s possible to view Sting’s genre-shopping as artistically commendable. After all, this is pop, whose essence is assimilation. In his groundbreaking band the Police, Sting rubbed reggae against punk to create a hybrid whose energy reflected the anxiety caused by such miscegenation. As he matured, Sting grew suspicious of rock’s amateurishness and moved toward an ideal based in poised musical interplay instead of conflict. His belief in a true world music led him to form outstanding bands, including the one appearing Tuesday. It also pushed his music toward a rootlessness that can seem decadent.
His cosmopolitanism illuminates when it holds that seed of self-awareness. It’s there in “Desert Rose,” in the amazing second vocal by Cheb Mami, the Algerian rai vocalist who joined Sting as an opening act at the concert. Sting, the Englishman, can nearly match the North African’s sinewy technique, but Sting’s fairy-tale lyrics about a veiled seductress are undermined by the immediacy of Cheb Mami’s voice. Performing the song with him, Sting finally surrendered, allowing his partner to lead its final crescendo. Humbly giving over to his inspiration, Sting proved himself a sensitive collaborator…
Sting also performed the song on the 2001 Superbowl pre-game show, reaching an audience in the millions. “Desert Rose” also became a regular song featured on Sting’s ‘Brand New Day’ world tour. So in many ways, the Jaguar deal proved a powerful catalyst for Sting’s new music; providing lift off for “Desert Rose” and the album.
Before making the deal with Jaguar, Sting’s record company had planned on selling about 1 million albums. Their marketing and promotion budget had been estimated at about $1.8 million, including $800,000 to make the “Desert Rose” video. Jaguar, by comparison, shelled out about $8 million for the TV commercial time, and gave the song exposure to a global audience Sting might not have reached with its own marketing. To date, Sting’s Brand New Day album has sold over 4 million copies.
Jaguar’s Ad Music “Greatest Hits” – 1999-2008
Desert Rose Sting History Repeating Propellerhead & Shirley Bassey I Turn My Camera On Spoon The Girl’s Attractive Diamond Nights Hardcore Days & Softcore Nights Aqueduct Signs Of Love Moby I’m In Love With My Car Queen Battle Without Honor…#2 Tomoyasu Hotei London Calling The Clash Two Rocks And A Cup Of Water Massive Attack Hush Deep Purple __________________________ Sources: “Jaguar TV Ad’s Greatest Hits,”
Rhapsody Radish, February 20, 2007, and Jaguar.com.
Jaguar for its part, was quite happy to have used the Sting song, and the experience appears to have had an impact on Jaguar’s thinking about how to package itself thereafter. Owned by the U.S. auto giant Ford, Jaguar is the venerable U.K. car company known for its luxury cars, but also for its somewhat stuffy image. However, in the last several years, Jaguar has continued to use popular music in other car ads – from Deep Purple’s “Hush”, a 1968 hit, to Spoon’s more current tune, “I Turn My Camera On.” Songs by Clash, Queen, Moby and Propellerhead have also been used. Granted, not all of these have worked as well as Sting’s “Desert Rose.” Yet taken together, such pop and progressive music tracks are helping to give Jaguar a new brand image, which in turn helps the company reach into new groups of potential buyers.
New Song vs. Old Song
On the artist side of the equation, a few years after Sting’s success using the Jaguar ad, other artists followed allowing their music and/or image to be used in product advertising, including Bob Dylan, Sheryl Crow, and Paul McCartney. However, some of the artists, like Sting, were using TV ads not so much to capitalize on older music, but as a way to help launch new songs or albums. Music fans are often offended to find their favorite old songs appearing in TV ads. They call it “selling out” and regard the advertising as a crass exploitation of the emotional connection built up over their years with song and artist. However, a new song used in a commercial, unknown and without a track record – no “emotional constituency,” so to speak – might be seen somewhat differently. Artists argue that given the tougher climate in the music industry and the keen competition out there, a new song needs all the help it can get. And TV spots are a good way to get noticed. Still, one car company ad or beer commercial does not always mean immediate pop success for the artist. And the chosen sponsor can also carry baggage that the artists’ fan base does not like. For the sponsor too, the chosen music can boomerang on the company or turn off other customers. Music fans, meanwhile, remain divided on the practice, whether old song or new, with some being more vehement about it than others.
Stay tuned to this website for additional stories on the use of music in advertising, covering both past history and more recent uses. Thanks for visiting.
Actor Dennis Hopper shown in one of his Ameriprise Financial television advertisements.
It may be surprising for baby boomers to see Dennis Hopper pitching retirement planning for Ameriprise Financial Corp. He appeared in a series of TV ads for the company during 2006-2008. Hopper, it may be remembered, played the drug-addled cowboy biker, Billy, in the 1969 film classic Easy Rider. That’s the film he directed and starred in with Peter Fond and Jack Nicholson. In fact, the storyline in that film promised its two care-free bikers a “luxury retirement” via the big Mexican drug deal the two had just made — that is, until some redneck vigilantes brought Dennis and friends to an unpleasant ending.
Others might remember Dennis as the slightly maniacal photojournalist in the Vietnam-era Apocalypse Now of 1979, or the obscenity-spewing wildman Frank Booth in David Lynch’s Blue Velvet of 1986. And then there’s the mad bomber he played in 1994′s Speed with Kenau Reeves and Sandra Bullock, or the villain “Deacon” in Kevin Kostner’s Waterworld of 1995. Or how about the war criminal Victor Drazen in TV’s 24 series of recent years. Not exactly bright and cheery characters.
Biker Billy of 'Easy Rider,' a film about financial planning of a different kind.
True, these are all fictional roles and Hopper was acting. Nevertheless, this might not be the kind of imagery and character association that a financial services company wants floating around in the heads of its would-be customers.
“Of course, when you go with a celebrity,” explained Kim Sharan, Ameriprise’s chief marketing officer, “you have to be concerned. … [B]ut we did a significant amount of testing prior to going with Dennis. He tested really well.”
Although Hopper was pitching baby boomers when he made the Ameriprise ads, he himself was not a boomer. He was born in the 1930s, and was then over 70. But according to Doug Pippin, a creative director at Saatchi & Saatchi, the ad agency then doing the Ameriprise ads, baby boomers saw Hopper as “an older brother who’s been out there.” At the time, Pippin called Hopper a “great anti-hero hero,” who stood for “unconventional thinking.”
Acting Since ’50s
Hopper, in fact, had a long and interesting career. He began acting as a teeanager in the 1950s and later signed with Warner Brothers. During the filming of Rebel Without a Cause — a 1955 film in which he had a small role — he became a friend to James Dean. He also appeared with Dean in Giant (1956), Dean’s last film before his death. By the late 1960s, Hopper teamed up with Peter Fonda and Terry Southern to co-write the 1969 film Easy Rider, which he also directed while playing the role of Billy. That film received two Academy Award nominations — one for a then-unknown Jack Nicholson for Best Supporting Actor and one for Hopper, Fonda, and Southern for Best Original Screenplay. The 1970s were a tough time for Hopper, dealing with alcohol and drug abuse.
In the 1980s, Hopper emerged in successful roles in Blue Velvet (1986) and received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor as an alcoholic father trying to help his son’s basketball team in Hoosiers (1986). In 1988 he directed the police vs. street gangs drama Colors with Sean Penn and Robert Duvall. Since then he has directed a few more films, including The Hot Spot (1990) and Chasers (1994). In the 1990s, he became known for playing bad guy roles in films such as Speed (1994). In recent years, he has acted in several TV films and also appeared in TV series such as 24 and E-Ring. Beyond his acting and directing, Hopper is also an accomplished photographer with his work shown publicly and published in several books (see selection below “sources”). He is also a modern art collector.
Hopper has appeared in advertising throughout his career, for Nike and other sponsors. But the work he is now doing for Ameriprise may become one of those classic pieces of advertising history, despite all the criticism of a bad fit. At the very least, the style of the ads is a welcomed change from the more staid approaches of the past. Here’s some history on how it came about.
New Kind of Ad
“Our new campaign is a radical departure from standard financial services advertising,” said Ameriprise’s Kim Sharan at the launch of their ads in September 2006. “We are firmly focused on the positive aspects of retirement and our understanding that boomers aren’t going to spend this phase of life playing shuffleboard. There is no better figure to personify our message than legendary actor Dennis Hopper who embodies the spirit of the generation. With his help we are speaking with boomers not at them.”
Ameriprise — formerly a major division of American Express — became an independent company in August 2005 when it was spun off from American Express as a separate company. At the time, it was the sixth largest such roll out in corporate history. Today it is a stand-alone Fortune 500 company in its own right, ranked at #296 in May 2008, the fourth largest financial advisory firm in the U.S.
When Ameriprise became its own company, it needed to tell the world who it was and what it did, and so it began a “brand awareness” campaign. It also wanted to increase its business, add to the amount of assets under its management, and hold on to its advisor network. A marketing plan and advertising campaign were included. And that’s where Dennis Hopper comes in.
As Ameriprise began its new life as an independent, the financial services industry was in a major battle for the hearts, minds, and retirement money of the 78 million baby boomers now entering their 60s. At stake is more than $2 trillion in IRA and other assets that boomers now hold. Needless to say, companies like Fidelity, Merrill Lynch, and Ameriprise are, as one report put it, “salivating in anticipation” over this wealth. At stake is more than $2 trillion in IRA and other assets that boomers now hold. In the last few years, these and other firms have been spending some $700 million a year trying to capture boomer’s business. For Ameriprise, the question became how best to do that.
Ameriprise and its marketers began studying boomers. Using focus groups and other techniques, they met with boomers all across the country, taking their measure. They found a “work hard/play hard” cohort who were still rebels in a sense, and were not into passive retirement. Boomers are looking forward to the “next act” of their lives, but don’t want to be lectured about money and financial planning. From this, Ameriprise gleaned that “dreams” might be a good peg. Or as they put it: “We knew that we had to quell [boomers'] dread of financial planning and replace it with hope. We challenged our creative teams to take the focus off money and help boomers realize their dreams.”
Finding Their Man
In designing creative strategies, an “unexpected idea” of featuring Dennis Hopper in TV advertising arose. This came as part of the ad agency’s recommendation to use someone who was a leader or otherwise prominent in the 1960s counterculture. But the Hopper recommendation came as “a surprise” to the company. The only other celebrity used in financial services advertising at the time was Sam Waterston, who then played a righteous lawyer and prosecutor on the TV show, Law & Order. Ameriprise officials were not real comfortable with the prospect of using Hopper for their ads. Surely there must be other actors to consider, they suggested. “The Agency tried to think of some alternatives,” says one Ameriprise account of the process, “and that’s how we began to realize just how perfect and incomparable Dennis Hopper is.”Baby Boomers saw Hopper as extremely talented, willing to challenge him- self, uncompromising, and just really cool.
Still, Hopper was tested with audiences along with another unspecified alternative campaign. Here’s the report on what Ameriprise and their ad agency found:
“The two campaigns were taken to four markets for evaluation via one-on-one interviews. A consistent pattern of consumer response emerged. The concept featuring Dennis Hopper was clearly more appealing, in a big West Coast market as well as a smaller “Middle America” market. “Baby Boomers saw Hopper as extremely talented, willing to challenge himself, uncompromising, and just really cool. He is someone they look up to and aspire to emulate his values.”
“Meanwhile, we purchased syndicated celebrity research from E-Score (a more robust competitor to the well-known Q Score). The data reinforced what the qualitative research had demonstrated. Hopper had the combination of winning attributes that were consistent with Ameriprise’s desired brand personality: versatile, talented, experienced, intriguing, especially among our target audience.”
When they tested Dennis Hopper TV concepts, they also found a positive response. “When the Hopper spots tested above norm in quantitative testing, Ameriprise knew that Hopper was their guy.” All of the research, focus groups, and testing helped convince Ameriprise management that provocative ads featuring Dennis Hopper “could have significant positive impact on their business.” So the ads went forward, the first released in September 2006.
Hopper & ’60s Music
Hopper pitching Ameriprise.
In the ads, Dennis Hopper is aiming squarely at baby boomers and their retirement “dreams.” But he’s not exactly giving the soft sell. Rather, he is more cajoling, offering his message in a style befitting the 1960s’ way of doing things a little bit against the grain. In fact, he’s more like the “anti-retirement” messenger — at least in terms of what retirement used to be like. “No more rocking chairs or shuffleboard” — and Dennis says as much in one or more of these ads. Hopper is shown in an assortment of outdoor settings — on a sand dune, at a crossroads in the middle of nowhere, in a suburban housing tract, on a beach with blue ocean background, and others.
The ads are emotionally powered by a 1960s’ song from Steve Winwood & the Spencer Davis Group, using a signature organ riff that is a guaranteed “boomer getter”.
Each of the Ameriprise ads features Hopper dressed in black with his symbolic red chair (the “anti-rocking chair”). But most important is the music, as each of the 30-second spots is emotionally powered by the same classic piece of 1960s’ music. The song used is by Steve Winwood and the Spencer Davis Group, called “Gimme Some Lovin’ “(#7, 1967). It’s a landmark piece with a distinctive beat and signature organ riff that are immediately recognized by anyone who was even remotely paying attention in the 1960s. It also has guaranteed “kitchen-to-TV-room” drawing power for those who might have drifted away from their TV sets. The music almost has a “Pied Piper” effect on folks of that era. The tune plays prominently and at key moments in each of the ads as Dennis tells his viewers they “need a plan.” In fact, without the Spencer Davis song, these ads would be considerably less effective, as one You Tube clip without the music shows.
Curiously, at one point after the ads had run for a time, Ameriprise stopped using the Spencer Davis music with the ads and began using other music. A narrative sampling of four of the Ameriprise ads using the orginal Spencer Davis music, follows below. The videos with the newer music can be found at the Ameriprise web site.
Hopper in Ameriprise ad.
This ad opens with a close up of Dennis in the middle of big field of sunflowers, dressed in his black shirt, twirling a single flower in his hand as he talks directly to the viewer: “Some people say that dreams are like delicate little flowers. WRONG!” Cue Spencer Davis tune and pan out to wide view of whole field and Dennis tossing the flower into the air. “Dreams are powerful,” says Dennis, now in close-up mode talking with the viewer while using emphatic hand gestures. “Dreams are what make you say, ‘When I’m 64, I’m going to start a new business; I want to make my own movie’.” “Flower power was then, your dreams are now.” Then, with some finger pointing, he adds, “But powerful dreams need more than just a little weekend gardening.” Cut to beautiful Southwest desert scene with assorted tall cacti and attractive gray-haired lady taking in the beauty, then to scenes with husband and a financial planner sitting down going over some paperwork. Then cut to attractive adobe-like building in the desert — i.e., dream realized, home in the desert — as voiceover explains: “Start with your dreams, and your Ameriprise Financial advisor, through a unique approach called Dream, Plan, Track ( these words flash on screen, along with “Go To What’s Next” and “ameriprise.com”). We’ll work with you to help make your dreams realities.” Cut back to Dennis in the field of sunflowers, close up: “Flower power was then, your dreams are now.” Close: Ameriprise logo and lettering flash on screen with 1-800-Ameriprise phone number.
. . . in American Dreams ad.
In this ad, Dennis Hopper is shown with his red chair standing at an intersection in the middle of a suburban housing tract. “The American Dream,” he says, describing the conventional American community as the camera pans down the street, dog barking in the background. “White picket fence, 2.4 kids, and a nice puppy dog — NO!,” he then says emphatically, slightly laughing as he puts his hands to his head, waving off that idea. Cue the Spencer Davis tune, as Dennis sets us straight: “The American Dream is that each one of us gets our dreams — big dreams, small dreams, cra-a-a-zy dreams,” adding appropriate hand gestures to signify each kind of dream. “It’s not just where your dreams take you, it’s where you take your dreams.” “But here’s the thing,” he says, pausing for effect, then looking straight into the camera. “It’s not just where your dreams take you, it’s where you take your dreams.” Pan out to Hopper laughing as he walks away down the street. He disappears as the voiceover adds: “Find out why more people come to Ameriprise for financial planning than any other company.” Corporate lettering then appears on screen in the sky above the street scene — “The personal advisors of Ameriprise Financial,” along with a web page-like display of topical choices — “Financial Planning > Retirement > Investments > Insurance.” The add closes with the red chair remaining in the intersection and the voiceover continuing, “Visit us at ameriprise.com/plan.” On the final screen shot “ameriprise.com /plan” remains on screen.
Dennis Hopper in ad.
This 30-second spot, titled “Salt Flats,” opens with Dennis, dressed in black, on a large expanse of bright sandy white salt flats with mountains in the distance. The camera work alternates from close-up and far away. “‘Your dreams are crazy!,” he bellows in the first frame, close up, pointing his finger accusingly at the viewer. Cut to Dennis at a distance, standing, making large sweeping gestures with his arms, bellowing again, “They’re impossible”[i.e., your dreams]. Back to Dennis, more close up, standing, now in a more civil tone, cue Spencer Davis music: “That’s what they said back in the day when your dreams changed everything!,” he says, now removing his sunglasses and pointing with them in hand. “See, the thing about dreams is, they don’t retire.” “That’s not gonna stop now,” he says insistently of his viewer’s expected behavior. “You’re not gonna turn your dreams over to the authorities at age 60,” he continues, incredulously. “You find someone who believes in your dreams.” Cut to sequence of shots of Japanese American client who is presumably a hobbyist photographer consulting with his wife and an Ameriprise agent, with client shown thereafter continuing his photographic quests in various settings on a road trip. “Get To What’s Next” flashes on screen during this sequence as the voiceover makes the pitch: “Start with your dreams and your Ameriprise financial advisor working with you one on one, face to face. We’ll work with you to help make your dreams realities.” Back to Dennis at close: “See, the thing about dreams is,” he says putting his sunglasses back on, “they don’t retire.” Closing shot includes Ameriprise Financial information and 1-800-Ameriprise on screen.
Hopper in 'Stars' ad.
This ad opens to a nighttime setting in the desert, with a big starry sky. The first scene shows Dennis at some distance, standing, back to the camera, near a red chair, looking up at the sky. An owl is heard calling in the background. Camera pans the nighttime sky. Cut to Dennis close-up on his chair looking into the camera: “When you a were a kid, wishing upon a star was a cute idea. “Unless I’m completely in the dark here, you’re not a kid anymore.” But unless I’m completely in the dark here, you’re not a kid anymore.” Cue: Spencer Davis tune. “Though you still got dreams, don’t you? You gotta plan to get them up and runnin‘?,” he asks. “Or are you just keeping your fingers crossed?” A shooting star streaks across the sky, with laughter from Dennis. “Maybe it’s time for a wake up call, ” he says, with an encouraging facial nod. Voiceover: “Find out why more people come to Ameriprise than any other financial planning company. Visit us as Ameriprise.com/plan.”
Hopper with dictionary.
In addition to the four preceeding samples, there are also other ads in the Ameriprise series, including one that opens with Hopper in black shirt and sunglasses, standing on a white, sandy beach, holding a big black dictionary (see also opening photo above). That ad begins with Hopper reading from the book: “To withdraw, to go away, to disappear,” he says, quoting from the dictionary. “Your generation is definitely not headed for Bingo night.”“That’s how the dictionary defines retire- ment.” Then he says in louder voice, “Time to redefine,” tossing the book aside as the Spencer Davis tune comes on. “Your generation is definitely not headed for Bingo night. In fact, you could write a book about how you’re going to turn retirement upside down. . . .” Cut to the generic financial planning scenes and voiceover. Then back to Hopper: “. . .’Cause I just don’t see you playing shuffleboard, you know what I mean?”
Other Ameriprise ad.
Over the lifetime of the Dennis Hopper/Ameriprise ad series — which is still ongoing as of June 2008 — the ads have appeared on a variety of network and cable TV shows, including: NBC Sunday Night Football, LOST, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Desperate Housewives, CSI: Miami, Without a Trace, and others. There have also been print, radio, and online components to the campaign.
Ameriprise landed a share of criticism for these ads, both in the blogosphere and from mainstream media critics, some taking shots at the use of Hopper in particular. Bob Garfield of Advertising Age — after offering a qualifying aside that “those ’60s dreams weren’t about bond yields and beach houses” — didn’t think Hopper was the right messenger. The casting of Hopper, he said “presumes that all leading-edge boomers identify with, or at least fondly recall Hopper’s transgressive roles and his generally schizoid persona. “This was a big mistake, said Garfield. “Not everyone from 1969 wanted to stick it to The Man.” Most boomers, he said, were not revolutionaries beyond bell bottoms and Rowan & Martin’s Laugh In. Bob Garfield of Advertis- ing Age noted that “those ’60s dreams weren’t about bond yields and beach houses.” The Establishment survived, he explained, and so “a fringe character like Hopper isn’t necessarily symbolic of his generation. Joni Mitchell would be a better choice.” Garfield noted that Hopper’s off-screen life “hadn’t been especially orderly, either.”
The ad also failed its sponsor, charged Garfield, for not explaining the brand, Ameriprise, which few people then knew. “This spot is a classic example of Saatchi & Saatchi, New York, falling so in love with star power that it neglects the brand itself.” Still, Garfield conceded the spot was better than most financial planning advertising fare — “not like some brain-dead, condescending pitch… to an audience of presumably doddering old fools.” Could it be, Garfield wondered, that baby-boomers might be the first retirement age group “to be treated by Madison Avenue with dignity?” Explaining how Mad Ave normally did this kind of pitch, Garfield wrote: “One day you’re a vibrant worker with responsibility, income and possibly even a sex life and — wham — the next you’re a fearful dullard, being insultingly spoken down to by the very people who want your business.” So for Garfield, although Hopper may not have been the right icon, “we’re just thrilled it wasn’t Aunt Bea.”
'Easy Riders' - from left: Hopper, Fonda & Nicholson.
Diane Rohde, writing for The Onion.comin late May 2007, had some satirical fun with Hopper’s screen personas: “Retirement planning means a lot of decision making, and thank God I have the soothing presence of that amyl nitrite-huffing, obscenity-screaming, psychosexual lunatic from Blue Velvet to guide me through it.” She also added, “I’m sure that Dennis Hopper wouldn’t represent a company that was anything other than a rock of respectability. When I hear him in those commercials, it’s the familiar voice of a coke-dealing, LSD-fueled hippie cowboy biker putting me at ease….” In addition to the print send-ups, there were also a number of Dennis Hopper /Ameriprise video parodies that ran on You Tube and other sites – some quite hilarious. But others, such as blogger Lewis Green, liked the ad and thought it an effective way to reach boomers.
Hitting Their Mark
By late February 2007, the ads seemed to be hitting their mark — or at least some of them. USA Today found that the Ameriprise ads scored low overall with adults generally who were surveyed by its Ad Track weekly poll at that time. However, the target audience of boomer-age consumers generally had higher scores. About 50 percent of the boomers liked the ads “a lot” or “somewhat,” and 79 percent rated the ads “very effective” or “somewhat effective.”
“We know that these ads are striking a chord,” said Ameriprise’s Kim Sharan in February 2007. “Financial services is a pretty staid field, so we wanted to bring a tone and personality that is more emotionally driven.” Even the criticism is a good sign, according to Sharan.“We know that these ads are striking a chord,” said Ameriprise’s Kim Sharan, who added later, “… and in some ways is becoming part of our culture.” The Ameriprise website received an uptick in hits after the Onion.com piece appeared n May 2007, according to Sharan. That “shows our message is out there,” she said. “It’s resonating, and in some ways is becoming part of our culture.”
In August 2007, Ameriprise and its ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi launched a second wave of Dennis Hopper ads. This round of TV advertising was accompanied by spots on the Web, and Ameriprise also paired with National Geographic to do some videos of people fulfilling their dreams who are aided by Ameriprise advisers. The company is hoping these efforts will go beyond boomers, and appeal as well to Generation-X. Ameriprise spent $110 million on advertising in 2006, according to the Nielsen Co., and about that much again in 2007. The second round of Hopper ads began their run in late 2007 early 2008 and as of June 2008 were still appearing.
'Palm Springs Magazine,' March '07.
In one early self-assessment of their advertising and branding efforts — which is generally referred to as the “Dreams Don’t Retire” campaign — Ameriprise found as of the 3rd quarter 2007, that mostly good things had resulted for the company. Total brand awareness for Ameriprise had increased 29 percent; traffic to its website, Ameriprise.com, was up 15 percent; assets under management increased 12 percent; clients in the target audience of “mass affluent and affluent Baby Boomers” increased 11 percent; and cost per lead generated by advertising decreased by 21 percent. Ameriprise’s stock price also increased 53 percent since the September 2006 launch of the campaign.
In partial summary, the company also offered this perspective:
“The new campaign was an opportunity to position Ameriprise in a way that no brand in the category had done before. The antithesis of the stodgy and outdated financial services company, Ameriprise brought to life the independent, irreverent, and optimistic character of the Boomer generation.
We used our television executions to inspire Boomers to start dreaming. The spots featured anti-hero Dennis Hopper riffing about dreams and their indelible power. Introducing a new vocabulary to the financial services world, the spots shifted the focus of retirement away from numbers. Hopper became a trustworthy advocate for Boomer dreams in a way that only he could. . .”
In April 2008, at an awards ceremony in New York, the Advertising Research Foundation awarded both its top-place Grand Ogilvy advertising award and the Gold Award for Financial Services to Ameriprise Financial for its multimedia national ‘Dreams Don’t Retire’ campaign.
As for Dennis Hopper, one can’t help but think that he had some fun making these commercials, and that he also had a few laughs in the process — including those on the way to the bank.
Jack Doyle, “Dennis Does Ameriprise, 2006-2008,” PopHistoryDig.com, June 17, 2008.
Sources, Links & Additional Information
Dennis Hopper on the cover of Life magazine, June 19, 1970, as he began making a new movie in Peru following "Easy Rider." That movie was titled "The Last Movie," released in 1971.
Famous Andy Warhol portrait of Dennis Hopper, 1970-71.
Kemper Museum version: synthetic polymer paint and silkscreen ink on canvas, 36 x 36 inches, Bebe and Crosby Kemper Collection.
Ameriprise Financial, Inc., Minneapolis, MN, Press Release, “New Evolution of Ameriprise Financial Advertising Emphasizes that “Dreams Don’t Retire”; Broadcast Ads Feature Actor Dennis Hopper and A 1960s-Style Red Chair,” September 7, 2006.
Bob Garfield, “Ameriprise’s Dennis Hopper Spot: Wrong Icon, Right Tone – Saatchi & Saatchi Work Hypes Star, Neglects Brand,” Advertising Age.com, November 19, 2006.
Laura Petrecca, “More Marketers Target Boomers’ Eyes, Wallets, USA Today, February 25, 2007.
“Dennis Hopper – Biography,” Biography.com, A&E Television Networks, 2007.
“Dennis Hopper,” Great Movie Actors at Movie Actors.com.
Diane Rohde, “There’s No More Reassuring Voice In Retirement Planning Than Dennis Hopper,” The Onion.com, May 30, 2007 | Issue 43•22.
Ameriprise Financial, Inc., “Online Strategy Plays a Primary Role in New Evolution of Ameriprise Financial Advertising – New television spots air tonight on ESPN Monday Night Football,” Business Wire, September 10, 2007.
On September 7, 1964, television advertising history was made during the broadcast of NBC’s Monday Night at The Movies. That’s when a new kind of TV ad was first aired that would forever change the art and practice of political advertising – and to a large degree, political campaigning as well. For 1964 was the year that the negative political ad was born, initiating the clever use of image and sound to paint an opponent in negative or scary terms. No less than a presidential election was at stake.
The Democrats, with President Lyndon B. Johnson in the White House following the assassination of John F. Kennedy, were headed for an election-year battle with Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, a fierce and outspoken conservative. The Democrats had hired a New York advertising firm to help them in their campaign. Among the ad men enlisted was Tony Schwartz who believed that negative sentiment associated with a particular candidate could be more powerful in persuading voters than positive ones.
Photograph of an atomic blast, a version of which was also shown in the 'Daisy Girl' campaign ad.
On the campaign trial, Goldwater had advocated the use of “tactical” nuclear weapons in Vietnam, and Lyndon Johnson’s team went right after that, trying to paint Goldwater as dangerous. One result was the infamous “Daisy Girl” TV ad, a one-minute spot featuring a little blond girl in an open field, appearing innocent and playful, plucking petals off a daisy, counting as she went, flubbing the sequence a bit, as young children do: “One, two, three, four, five, seven, six, six, eight, nine, nine …,”she says, counting in a slow, sing-song fashion. Immediately following the little girl’s voice comes a man’s voice, enhanced by an echo chamber. The girl looks up from her de-petalled flower, as if hearing the distant voice, also counting — backwards: “Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one, zero.” The sound of a horrific explosion follows as the TV image changes sharply to the mushroom cloud of an atomic explosion, then an x-ray-like image of the daisy girl as the blast sound rolls out for an extended count of some long seconds. Then comes the voice of Lyndon Johnson. In his perfect Texas twang, pausing purposely for effect at the proper moments, Johnson offers this view: “These are the stakes . . . To make a world in which all of God’s children can live . . . Or, to go into the darkness . . . We must either love each other, or we must die.” The piece closes with an announcer voice-over: “Vote for President Johnson on November 3rd. The stakes are too high for you to stay home.”
Goldwater & Nuclear Weapons
The implied message of the ad was crystal clear for anybody remotely following the election that year: Goldwater was not to be trusted with nuclear weapons, and if elected, he would surely unleash a nuclear showdown. In fact, the Republican National Committee noted in reply: “This ad implies that Senator Goldwater is a reckless man and Lyndon Johnson is a careful man.” However, the ad created such a furor that it was withdrawn after being shown only once, during the NBC Movie that September 7th. But all the controversy led to its being replayed many times more, in its entirety, including on network newscasts at ABC and CBS, commentary programs, and displayed innews magazines. It also appeared as part of a montage of images on the cover of Time magazine’s September 24th, 1964 issue, featuring “The Nuclear Issue” as its cover story.
'Daisy Girl' TV clip shown on the lower portion of Time magazine's cover, September 25, 1964, in a featured story on 'The Nuclear Issue'.
“Daisy Girl” changed the politics of advertising from that moment on. Goldwater’s campaign followed with its own scary ad, titled, “We Will Bury You,” using a scene of young American school students saying the Pledge of Allegiance juxtaposed with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev making his famous threatening United Nations speech in which he invoked that phrase.
Presidential elections up until 1964 often used simple campaign songs, jingles, and images, as Kennedy and Eisenhower had done in the 1950s and in 1960, or used only rudimentary and fairly crude ads in the early years of television. But it was President Kennedy in the summer of 1963, then contemplating his own re-election campaign, who had first decided to use the New York group that would prepare the “Daisy Girl” ad. Doyle Dane Bernbach, known as DDB in the trade, was the firm Kennedy had selected. He had been impressed by the modern approach of DDB’s Volkswagen “Think Small” ads, and the Avis “We Try Harder”campaign. Madison Avenue generally had been avoiding the Democrats since the 1950s and the days of Adlai Stevenson. But Doyle Dane Bernbach accepted the work with Johnson and the Democrats, later explaining they feared Goldwater and favored Johnson.
In the general election, Johnson crushed Goldwater, winning 64.9 percent of the popular vote, one of the largest winning percentages ever recorded.
For addtional stories at this website related to politics, please visit the “Politics” category page or visit the Home page for other story choices. Thanks for visiting. – Jack Doyle