Since this was originally posted, we’ve received comment from Eagles SVP of media and communications, Anne Gordon.
The new Eagles season, which kicks off tonight with with the Birds taking on the Redskins in Maryland, arrives with much uncertainty. Nobody knows if Chip Kelly can coach in the NFL, if Michael Vick can thrive or even remain upright, or if this defense can stop anybody. We even get to relive the McNabb Wars, when Donovan comes to town to get his jersey retired in Week 3.
And that’s to say nothing of Riley Cooper, Cary Williams or last week’s scuffle between Riley Cooper and Cary Williams. In Deadspin’s fantastic “Why Your Team Sucks” series, the Eagles entry was the most entertaining, probably because there was so much material.
But there was one development in the last week that got Eagles fans spectacularly fired up about the Birds’ return to the field. It was the debut of a new TV commercial called “What Brotherly Love Truly Means.” The two-minute ad surfaced online early last week, before making its TV debut Thursday night during the Broncos-Ravens kickoff game:
Why do I love the video, which is also hosted on the Eagles’ new FlyEaglesFly.com social media site? Aside from its mixture of historical game footage with first-rate production values and soaring music, the video takes every cliche about Philadelphia, the Eagles and TV sports promos, and utterly transcends them.
Philly is tough? Philly is passionate? References to cheesesteaks, the Italian market, 4th and 26th, and snowballs and Santa Claus? If you’ve ever watched a network broadcast of an Eagles game, you’ve heard them all a million times. But the new ad presents those things in a way that’s true, and not cliched. It could have been so cheesy and fake, but it’s neither. And when the spot debuted Thursday, reaction on social media was all positive.
“We wanted to put together a video that would truly capture the spirit and energy of this city, especially with the excitement of the season starting tonight. We wanted the video to show what our fans and what Philadelphia is really about—the passion, the history and the connection between team and city that is timeless,” Anne Gordon, the Eagles’ senior vice president of media and communications, said in an email when I reached out to the team about the campaign.
“We wanted to call-out all those people who don’t understand us and choose to see us through the lens of snowballs and Santa Claus. That’s not who Philadelphians are. They are football-smart, they demand greatness, and they will accept nothing but your best effort. We want our fans to know that we feel the same way they do and hopefully that came across in the video.”
The ad was produced by a local branding agency, 160over90, retained by the Eagles starting this season. You could call it the anti-“Stronger Than the Storm”—a TV campaign-based call to regional pride that, rather than cheesy, annoying, and inauthentic, both rings true and works to fire up Eagles fans. And it even references the “snowballs and Santa Claus” issue without the tone often associated with that particular topic.
Gordon said that the campaign has been in the works since April, and will soon expand to include billboards and bus, train, and subway ads. She described it as “a full campaign with the goal of expressing how the Philadelphia Eagles [feel] about the city and how the city feels about the team.”
She added that it was important to the Eagles that they use a Philly-based branding firm for the campaign, and that Neighborhood Film Company, another local concern, did production work on the video.
There are plenty of other things to like about the spot. The voiceover? Despite Twitter speculation that the ad was voiced by Mike from Breaking Bad, it’s actually John Doman, the stage and character actor with local ties who is perhaps best known for playing Deputy Commissioner Rawls on The Wire.
“We’re all fans of John’s work,” Gordon said. “We watched a couple of clips from The Wire and were impressed with his ability to deliver emotion. But then we found out he grew up in Philly and played football at Northeast Catholic and University of Pennsylvania. At that point, we knew we had to work with him.”
It’s a combination of football footage and soaring music that should remind Friday Night Lights devotees of some of the best moments of that program. And that music—as pointed out by someone on 160over90’s Facebook page, is the instrumental track of the song “It’s Thunder and It’s Lightning” by the Scottish band We Were Promised Jetpacks. I’ll be downloading that for my next jogging playlist.
There aren’t a lot of original ways to promote football. So kudos to the Eagles, and 160over90, for finding a good one, just in time for the season.
Now, can we talk about the other commercial, with the tailgating Eagles fan and veggie burger?