Monday, August 20, 2007

BofA's (Green) Monster of an Ad Campaign

I got to be a Bank of America customer the easy way. They came to me, by way of Bay Banks, which was gobbled up by Bank of Boston, which was swallowed by Fleet, which was - what's left? eaten alive - by BofA.

Their service, by the way, has been fine, and I do appreciate the ubiquity of their cash machines. (Which is why I got to be a Bay Banks customer to begin with.)

What BofA does do that's particularly wonderful is run a series of billboard ads that can be seen as you hurtle down the Mass Pike heading into Boston.

The billboard looks like the Green Monster scoreboard at Fenway Park, where the Red Sox play.

In these parts, the Green Monster (a.k.a., The Monster) is - to give it it's proper due - iconic. Its scoreboard is certainly one of the last in the major leagues that's updated manually, by a couple of guys who sit in a room behind The Monster. When they update the MLB scores (as opposed to the inning-by-inning for the Sox, which is an inside job), they come out on the warning track between innings and use a step stool to post the numbers. All very quirky, and part of the charm of Fenway. (Last season, there was a bit of hilarity when our eccentric left-fielder, Manny Ramirez, opened the door to the scoreboard area and went in and visited the guys working there during a break in the action. I went to Friday afternoon's game, and Manny was at it again.)

BofA changes the message on the Green Monster billboard every couple of weeks to reflect what's happening in Red Sox Nation: the arrival of new pitcher Dice-K Matsusaka, the start of spring training, Opening Day, etc. They spell out their message across the scoreboard, just where the inning-by- inning numbers would appear on the real thing.

I wish I'd been taking better note of these ads, but, since I only see them when I'm flying by at 65 (OK, 70) m.p.h., I haven't. I think that around Opening Day, the message was "The boys are back." For the All Star Game, the message was "5 All Stars." (When I first wrote this, I hoped I had gotten it right, going from memory: Manny, Papi, Beckett, Pap, and Okajima. The great thing about sports: you can look it up. I did. I wasn't right. It was "6 All Stars." I forgot Mike Lowell. Sorry, Mike. How could I have forgotten Mikey Twobags, which is what we've been calling him since he clobbers a lot of doubles?)

Anyway, the billboard messages are clever and fun. They help dispel the fear that BofA - which bought out the last standing major bank in New England - was going to impose a bland. homogenized corporate-ness on doing business here. Instead, BofA is playing this one exceedingly well, tapping into the hold that the Red Sox have on the area in a very entertaining way.

I read somewhere that this ad campaign has won an award, and it certainly deserves one. The copywriters so completely get Boston and the Red Sox, I'd be amazed to find out that they hailed from anyplace else. And what a fun job writing these ads must be.

If anyone knows where there's a link to the full series, Red Sox fans will certainly get a kick out of them. And if there's something similar in any other city, that would be of interest, too. (And my apologies to the blogger from whom I grabbed this picture of the billboard. I carelessly did not make note of where the credit should go.)


Of course, if BofA really wants to get into the swing of things, they'll start channeling the true feelings of Red Sox Nation, which right about now are not all that positive.

The Olde Towne Team has, after all, gone from a 13.5 game lead in the AL East to a measly and tenuous 4 game lead (as of Sunday August 19) over The Evil Empire (a.k.a., the Yankees).

Yes, "we" are still as of this writing enjoying the best W-L record in the majors but, the Red Sox being the Red Sox, and The Nation being The Nation, "we" are starting to panic - not so much at the thought of not making it into October as at the thought that the Yankees will be there and the Sox won't be. (Last year, for all intents and purposes, "our" World Series was watching the Tigers croak the Yankees.)

So if BofA were truly attuned, the signs would be reading:


Sweet Caroline, the joys of being a Red Sox fan.


John Whiteside said...

Boston has, I think, gotten some special treatment from BoA; here in Houston, it's pretty much generic advertising. Of course, there's no equivalent "Astros Nation." And we can be glad they didn't do the out-of-towner thing and make the ads about the space program. Maybe something oil-themed?

Lagmeister said...

There's a good traffic now in Gagne one to your buddy signifies "You're a loser..."

I wonder if BoA is running the same sort of thing in NY for the Yankees...

Maureen Rogers said...

Much as I dread seeing him come into a game, I actually feel bad for Gagne. I swear I saw him cross himself yesterday when he left in the 9th without doing any harm. (For those who don't speak Red Sox-ese, Gagne's a new reliever who has blown three games in a week's time.) I understand what Francona's trying to do to restore Gagne's confidence, but this will look pretty lame if the Sox lose the division or miss out on Wild Card by a game or so...

Tony said...


I am one of the two guys that came up with the idea for the billboard. We work in New York at BBDO. The Agency that does a lot of the work for the bank. And yes it did win a bunch of awards including the Cannes Festival, The OBIE (outdoor advertising award), as well as a bunch of others. It was fun to work on. look for a whole new board this season. The old one had really deteriorated and the client asked to see new creative, so we are working on something as I type this.