New Prince Advertising Campaign - Kinda Unique


Hall of Fame
For your reading pleasure:

1. Campaign Spotlight: Which Twin Holds the Tennis Racquet? ===========================================================
A maker of tennis footwear, apparel and equipment is giving a
new twist to an old saying, declaring that if you can't beat
'em, create 'em.
A campaign for Prince Sports, which is being aimed at
teenagers, spoofs the mania for celebrity athlete endorsers
among marketers like Prince by inventing a brash pair of
youthful tennis stars, a brother and sister team dubbed the
Ubertwins. The campaign, by Hunt Adkins in Minneapolis, is
scheduled to get under way this week.
The concept for the campaign was developed well before the
Olympic Winter Games, which concluded yesterday. But the many
flops and foul-ups among the highly-paid pitchjocks in Turin
are likely to give the campaign additional attention.
The print, online, retail and promotional campaign, with a
budget estimated at $1 million, celebrates the twins, named
Rolf and Rebekka, as if they were actually top-seeded players
from a country called Skolvia (which in reality cannot be
found on any map).
The ads present the cartoon twins promoting a new Prince
tennis shoe, the T9, along with the Prince O3 line of
racquets. The campaign was initially intended to introduce
the T9, but was expanded to include the other Prince
A focus of the campaign is a mock fan Web site
(, built by an agency in Euless, Tex., emedia
EFX, which is devoted to all things Rolf and Rebekka.
For instance, a biography of Rolf describes him as so much a
believer in "the power of the color orange" that he "wears
the same shirt all of the time." Rolf is also "highly skilled
in sword-and-sorcery-themed board games," the biography goes
on, "and the lost art of whittling spare chunks of woods into
There are also sections of the Web site devoted to the twins'
favorite video game, Uberpong, as well as to Rolf's favorite
food, a "rather tasteless snack" from his homeland called
Krohl Gluten Wafers.
"Rolf himself endorses these strange treats," the Web site
reports in deadpan fashion, "which he consumes on a daily
Visitors to the Web site will also be able to download
screensaver posters of the twins as well as buy real shirts,
wristbands and visors bearing the Ubertwins logo or their
motto, "Rjule the court"- an imaginary Skolvian variant of
the actual Prince slogan, "Rule the court."
The campaign is indicative of a trend that is growing in
popularity, particularly for ads targeted to the skeptical
younger generation of consumers. Some call it advertising
about advertising, others call it meta-marketing.
Such ads come with a wink and a nudge, meant to convey to
potential customers that if they pause for the pitch, they
will be lured in a low-key, entertaining manner rather than
the traditional hard-selling Madison Avenue way.
"This is not a heavily Prince-branded campaign; far from it,"
says Linda Glassel, vice president for sports marketing and
communications at Prince Sports in Bordentown, N.J.
"We're trying to break out of that mold," she adds, "and talk
to 12-to-17-year-olds the way they want to be talked to."
By trying "to have fun with it and not take it too
seriously," Ms. Glassel says, the campaign is intended to
help young tennis players "think of the sport in a whole new
That is important because getting them "energized about the
game of tennis" is crucial to its future, she adds.
Hunt Adkins began working for Prince Sports last August, when
the agency was hired to create campaigns for the new T9 shoe.

"As we started developing the concept of the Ubertwins," says
Patrick Hunt, president at Hunt Adkins, "Prince told us they
wanted to use it as a platform for speaking to 12-to-17-year- olds for all Prince products."
Mark Fairbanks, creative director at the agency, says that by
"poking fun at marketing hype, at star athletes," the
campaign also delivers a serious message: with all the focus
on money and celebrities, "it's gotten away from being about
the game."
"If you can create messages that entertain and inform, that's
your most effective work," Mr. Fairbanks says.
"What we try to do is make ads people want to talk about,
interact with, keep going back to," he adds. "We want a
dialogue with them, to keep them interested."
Mr. Fairbanks will say only that Skolvia is "somewhere in the
Netherlands" and is "shaped like a clog."
"There's a Planet Skolvia restaurant there," he adds,
The first appearance for the Ubertwins will be on an ad
wrapping around the covers of Smash, a quarterly magazine
from the Miller Publishing Group that is read by younger
tennis players. Posters bearing the Web address
are also being sent to 1,500 specialty stores and pro shops
that sell Prince products.
In the spring, Ms. Glassel says, the grass roots part of the
campaign will kick in as "street teams go to some junior
tournaments around the country wearing the Ubertwins
merchandise and handing it out." There will also be public
relations efforts, to be handled by the Winston-Salem, N.C.,
office of Mullen, an agency owned by the Interpublic Group of
There are additional plans, Mr. Fairbanks says, for an e-mail
newsletter devoted to the twins, perhaps reporting on
fascinating factoids like "what restaurant they're seen in
eating pickled herring," as well as a feature on the Web site
"where you'll be able to e-mail questions to Rolf or Rebekka
and they'll be answered."
Mr. Hunt, tongue firmly in cheek, says he is eager to hear
from the twins because they are "getting very complex." He
offers a Zen saying that is a particular Ubertwins favorite:
"What is the sound of one hand clapping ... for me?"
Another idea being considered, Ms. Glassel says, is a series
of animated short films on the Web site that would match the
Ubertwins against real-life Prince endorsers like Maria
Sharapova or James Blake.
"We're O.K. if it takes a year or two to spread the news"
about Rolf and Rebekka, Ms. Glassel says.
"Our expectations are that it's different, it's cool and it's
fun," she adds, "and we're going to see where it goes."