Thursday, January 27, 2011

Czech Out Chuck

Saatchi & Saatchi Prague brilliantly tapped a cultural phenomenon in a new campaign for T-Mobile that swept across the Czech Republic over the holidays. Czechs across the board have taken an instant liking to a series of fun ads featuring martial arts star Chuck Norris, who is fast becoming a Hasselhoff-like icon across Central Europe thanks to the campaign.

The ads show Norris in a Czech household at Christmas. In one he faints when a housewife raises a mallet to kill a fresh carp for dinner (a Czech Christmas custom). In another he stands by somewhat unsure as a hapless man of the house inadvertently knocks over the Christmas tree and destroys his TV set while trying to impress Norris with his best martial arts moves.

As well as being great for a laugh, the ads connect with a deeper back story.

Norris first became known to Czechs through smuggled videotapes of his action films in the 1980s before the collapse of communism. Then when the Czech Republic allowed US TV shows to run in the 90s he became famous as Walker, Texas Ranger. As such Norris – now 70 – has a nostalgic and intergenerational appeal. The new ads have also connected him with a new, digital generation – on YouTube the ads have 4.5 million hits and counting.

Then there’s the fact that the question of just how tough Norris is has become a long-running joke over the years. Put him in a ‘real’ everyday household and it becomes that much funnier.

This is classic Lovemarks stuff, and shows the power of storytelling. Through his long association with TV – the ultimate storytelling medium – and different eras, Norris evokes past, present and future. Because of that the ads create an instant emotional connection. And above all, they’re fun. Congrats to the team in Prague and at T-Mobile. Watch the ads here.