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Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck might have finally found his target.
No, I’m not talking about his on-field play. And this has nothing to do with the Thanksgiving Day game against Pittsburgh or the fact that Luck is recovering from a concussion and might not even play.
This has to do with Luck’s latest TV commercial for TD Ameritrade.
After four-plus years in the NFL, Luck and his handlers might have finally realized something: He’s not funny. At least not in television commercials.
Of course it was tempting for Luck and his handlers to go down the funnyman’s path, especially after the success that former Colts quarterback Peyton Manning has had with that strategy. Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers also has had some success with a comedic approach. Rodgers' "Discount Doublen Check" commercials for State Farm Insurance and now the one where he's trying to kill a fly with a golf club are pretty good.
But being funny is difficult, and as University of Indianapolis sports marketing professor Larry DeGaris said, “If you don’t pull it off, you can come off looking really bad. And dumb. It can really hurt your brand.”
Some of Luck’s previous commercials for DirecTV and TD Ameritrade have simply missed the mark. Luck searching for cats in a DirecTV ad and plucking some of his beard out and asking people if they “need a little Luck” are plain bad. I can’t be the only one who cringed when, in one TD Ameritrade ad, Luck says “Luck is in the air” as he flipped part of his plucked beard in front of a fan (the type for circulating air).
The TD Ameritrade ad featuring Luck this season is striking the right note. It features a more somber and serious Luck. It shows Luck playing makeshift hoops with his teammates in the locker room, hanging out with schoolchilden and bucking up a child in a hospital. It shows Luck having fun without trying to be funny. It shows him as a player and as a person.
The ad’s tone is a perfect fit for Luck. After all, he’s a Stanford University graduate, has an interest in architecture and engineering and started his own book club. He’s a guy who wouldn’t do any commercial deals his first season to focus on football first.
Ironically, or perhaps not so much, the new series of TD Ameritrade ads featuring the Colts QB is called “Andrew Luck’s Greatest Return.”
For TD Ameritrade, a company that does online stock trading, long-term investing and retirement planning, I’m sure the series’ title has something to do with a return on investment.
For me, however, it signifies Luck’s return from a failed attempt to be funny in his previous run as a pitchman.
Here’s hoping he never returns to that path.