By Barry Janoff, Executive Editor
December 20, 2010: Steve Young and Jerry Rice, one of the most prolific quarterback-wide receiver tandems in NFL history, have been working together in a multi-media marketing over the past few months as spokesmen for the Phillips-Van Heusen Pro Football Hall of Fame Fans' Choice campaign.
Now the two Pro Football Hall of Fame players have joined for another gig, which, although for Phillips-Van Heusen, is separate from the Hall of Fame effort. Young and Rice will star in a TV spot for Van Heusen men's clothing in which the former quarterback plays Professor Young of the Van Heusen Institute of Easy Style and Rice appears as a man with elegant style, thanks to the Phillips-Van Heusen touch.
The national spot, handled in-house by Phillips-Van Heusen, was filmed in Northern California earlier this month and is scheduled to break on national TV in early February, timed for the week prior to Super Bowl XLV on Feb. 6. Phillips-Van Heusen has not as yet purchased national air time during the game itself, but the spot could run prior to kickoff, during half time or during post-game events.
In the spot, Young plays a professor who specializes in style. He is shown in a dashing suit and shirt from Phillips-Van Heusen explaining how the fictitious Institute of Easy Style garners information in such categories as "Dress Shirts Research" to help the clothier design comfortable and fashionable looks best suited to men.
"Welcome to the Van Heusen Institute of Easy Style," Young says while holding a football in a setting that is a combination of a men's retail store, high tech lab and classroom. "You may come in as 'schlubs' but you will leave in style."
After explaining some of the fashion and design techniques used by Van Heusen, in comes in a wll-dressed Rice, who says, "It's beautiful, baby."
The spot could potentially lead to other TV commercials set at the Van Heusen Institute of Easy Style. Although it was not specified, support is likely to include print, Internet and POP.
Young played for the San Francisco 49ers from 1987 until he retired in 1999, including the squads that were victorious in Super Bowls XXIII, XXIV and XXIX, the latter of which he was named MVP. Rice played for San Francisco from 1985 through 2000 and was a key member of those same three Super Bowls, including being named MVP of Super Bowl XXIII. Young and Rice combined for 85 touchdowns, currently the most for one quarterback-wide receiver duo in NFL history.
According to Mike Kelly, evp-marketing for Phillips-Van Heusen, using players such as Young and Rice has played a major role in developing a bond between the company and football fans and consumers. PVH brands also include Calvin Klein, Arrow, Tommy Hilfiger, Izod, Bass, Kenneth Cole, DKNY, Joseph Abboud, Geoffrey Beene and Timberland.
"Our corporation is a fashion company. We have the No. 1 dress shirt brand in the country, and have had that distinction for many years," Kelly told NYSportsJournalism during a media event in New York in September to launch the second annual Van Heusen Pro Football Hall of Fame Fans' Choice campaign. "We have used fashion print to get our message out for years as a way of speaking to guys.
"But we went out and did some research," Kelley continued. "When we talked to men and asked them what they cared about, they told us sports, their family, issues of health. They didn't care as much about fashion. And when we dug into the issue of sports, we found that that football was at the top of the list. So one of the great steps for the brand was to introduce ourselves into the game and get some skin on it and to have a place inside the conversation of football."
"Welcome to the Van Heusen Institute of Easy Style. You may come in as 'schlubs' but you will leave in style." — Professor Steve Young
It is also expected that Young and Rice will be part of Super Bowl XLV week festivities in Dallas for the Van Heusen Fan's Choice campaign, in which fans are being encouraged to select their unofficial choices for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2011. The winners will be unveiled on NFL Network prior to the official announcement by the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Feb. 5.
Young and Rice appeared at the press event in September to kick off the 2010 Fan's Choice campaign along with fellow Hall of Famers Roger Staubach, Harry Carson and Warren Moon. The campaign is being run in conjunction with J.C. Penney and ESPN.
Van Heusen Expands NFL Alliance From Hall Of Fame To Fields Of Dreams