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The Score - Anthony Schoettle

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Sports Business

Colts' Irsay takes on unusual role as car salesman

April 5, 2010
KEYWORDS Sports Business

In a television commercial which begins airing early this month, Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay takes on the unusual role of pitchman.

Irsay agreed to appear in television commercials for Toyota, which took over as the Colts' official automobile provider from Chevrolet last year.

The commercials were produced by Saatchi & Saatchi, a well-known worldwide ad agency that handles the Toyota account.

IMS Productions in Speedway was used to shoot the ads. Much of the shoot took place at the Colts’ 56th street complex.

Irsay appears in a Toyota vehicle along with Colts cheerleaders and the team’s mascot and says, “At the Indianapolis Colts, there’s only one car brand we trust to haul all our MVPs.”

It’s one of the very few direct pitches Irsay has ever made. In fact, some Colts officials don’t recall Irsay ever pitching products directly in an ad for a team sponsor or other company.

“Jim has made himself available to Colts sponsors at their will,” said Colts Senior Vice President Pete Ward. “We certainly want to do what we can to help our corporate partners. They’re an important part of our team.”

According to Ward, officials for Toyota, which signed a three-year deal with the Colts at the beginning of last season, requested either a player or a high-ranking Colts executive for the ad, and the Colts offered Irsay.

The 30-second spot which will air across Indiana through at least May might also prove to be a good branding tool for the Colts.

In the commercial, the Colts mascot is shown with a large horseshoe prominently displayed on his chest, a horseshoe appears on one of the goal posts in the team’s training center, and the team’s playoff and Super Bowl banners are shown in the background of the ad.

Ward calls the ad a win-win.

“They’re a major sponsor for us, so we’re happy to help them any way we can,” Ward said. “And Toyota is pretty critical to Indiana's economy.”
 

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