29 March, 2011

Visigoths Hate Nerds Too

Kudos to Capital One (and their agency DDB Chicago I'm pretty sure) for revisiting the NCAA adaptation of their “Pillagers” Campaign, following last year’s “Ivan Brothers” commercials and Web shorts. There’s a good chance you’ve seen the “Visigoth Sports Net” spots, but you’ve probably only come across their Web content while streaming games this past March. Here’s a taste:

The humor is right up there with so many of ESPN’s classic SportsCenter spots. Of course they’re silly, but the campaign also completely plays up the attitudes and often misplaced intensity we get from sports highlights shows. And any basketball or SportsCenter fan would be totally in on the joke. In my opinion, these short doses are the perfect amount, palatable, but never so long that they become tiresome. (Something I realized after trying to watch 22 minutes of it on The Onion Sportsdome. That’s why SportsCenter has the actual sports. So you don’t realize just how ridiculous some of it all is. And believe me, I love SportsCenter.)

But the other reason I wanted to call out this campaign was to appease the part of my brain that can’t help but recognize actors I have no business whatsoever remembering. So maybe that part of your brain took a double-take at the bearded Visigoth behind the desk. And rightly so, because that weasel pelt pelt clad barbarian is none other than Donald Gibb. Yes, he was in Hancock, Bloodsport and had a recurring role on Step by Step, but you’d probably recall him most from this role:

He’s actually appeared in several “Pillager” spots, for which I’ve delighted in picking him out more with each one. So if you were wondering whatever happened to Ogre (as I’m sure almost one of you probably has), now you know.

Now I don’t think these specific spots will make people switch to Capital One, but they aren’t trying to. However, I do think this is a smart tie-in that will help more people recognize the Pillager/What’s In Your Wallet Capital One branding. And after a couple years I still enjoy this campaign on the whole, something that is becoming more and more difficult for companies to do (re: Coors Light Press Conference, e-Trade Baby).

And finally, apologies to any fellow nerds I gave flashbacks to. I hope we’ve all grown to accept our lot in lives: We’re the poorly adjusted, smartish people who make other people lots of money…and steal office supplies.

–George C. Convery, Copywriter

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