If I were to say the name "Leon Sandcastle" to you, chances are you would know what commercial I was talking about, know that Deion Sanders appeared in it, know it was a commercial for the NFL Network and chuckle recalling the ad.
For those reasons—and in a night that was full of so many really poor commercials—it was the perfect ad.
In case you missed it, here you go. Enjoy.
I'm of the belief that an advertisement should be three things:
- Memorable. You should not only recall the ad, you should be able to remember which company or product the ad was about.
- Informative (regarding the product or service offered). If you don't learn something new about the product or even what the actual product is, the commercial is a failure.
- A positive experience. You should leave the commercial with a good feeling about the product or about the image the product or company is portraying. Apple is your hip, honest friend that is offering a top-notch product, not a bunch of fancy frills and cheap thrills. Last night, Dodge made people feel sentimental by being the company that appreciates salt-of-the-earth farmers.
The NFL Network's Leon Sandcastle ad nailed all three of these tenets. The name Leon Sandcastle alone is memorable, but watching Sanders try to rekindle his NFL career by changing his name and donning a '70s look was a sight to behold, and one of the few ads you'll remember in a month.
This was also really informative about the type of events the NFL Network will be covering over the next several months.
We start with Rich Eisen, the network's flagship anchor. We then transition to the NFL combine, which of course is televised on the NFL Network. We see a bunch of NFL Network anchors discussing this Sandcastle figure that everyone is suddenly paying attention to.
Of course, we end at the NFL draft, with Sandcastle being announced as the top overall pick. In one fell swoop, the NFL Network previewed its coverage from now until the end of April. Pretty brilliant, and pretty simple.
Plus, this is a positive experience. The premise of Sanders trying to return to the NFL—in large part because his hair stylist doesn't remember him and he's suddenly feeling old and less relevant—is funny enough on its own.
The hairstyle and ridiculous numbers he posts at the combine—there is no way he can still run a 4.2 40-yard dash—are a nice touch. The NFL Network is also subtly reminding you that if a player comes out of nowhere and takes the draft process by storm, the channel will have it covered and keep you informed.
Too many ads on Sunday night were trying so hard to be memorable or funny that they didn't really tell us much about the product or weren't a positive experience.
There were so many cliches—something crazy is happening but all people care about is the product, celebrity endorsements, old people acting like young people, commercials blatantly selling us sex appeal, etc.—that the night was mostly filled with questions like, "They paid $4 million for that?"
A lot of companies try to sell you image as much as product. They want to attach their brand to a certain type of attitude. Dodge and Taco Bell from last night are good examples. However, that can be a slippery slope, and is often done at the expense of promoting a product itself.
In the end, we'll remember Leon Sandcastle, and perhaps subliminally we'll remember him at the NFL combine and NFL draft, too. Oh, and those things are being broadcast on the NFL Network—that's right!
In a night chock full of poor ads, Leon Sandcastle was a star.