Super Bowl Score: Mike Tyson Commercial Goes Viral


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No matter how you felt about the Denver Broncos taking Super Bowl 50, here’s an outcome you may have overlooked: Mike Tyson won by a knockout, and for Michael & Son Services, it was no contest.

In an unorthodox and gutsy move, Michael & Son—an East Coast HVAC and plumbing business based in Alexandria, Va.—took out an expensive (and silly) sports-themed Super Bowl ad that went viral within moments of its airing. Broadcast in regional markets just before halftime, the skit featured the former heavyweight boxing champ climbing into the ring to rescue his son Amir from a losing match: Michael & Son, get it?

Tyson takes the match dressed in the company uniform and if you missed the ad, you can view it on the Michael & Son website, along with hysterical behind-the-scenes footage of Tyson singing the Michael & Son jingle.

The worldwide publicity was priceless, with some observers even declaring it the best ad of the Super Bowl. Chris Thompson, marketing director for Michael & Son, spent the entire day Monday fielding interview requests from reporters far and wide. “On the one hand, it’s business as usual and the top focus is taking care of our customers,” he said. “But on the other, it’s crazy. It’s been a very, very busy day of press inquiries—a lot outside our market area—with people wanting to know how we got Mike Tyson.”

So how did they get him, exactly—and why? Consider that the 30-second spot only aired in eight East Coast markets, since Michael & Son has a coverage area that stretches from Baltimore to Charlotte. But Tyson’s appearance was something of a personal quest for owner Basim Mansour, who as a kid ripped a picture of the champ from TIME magazine and hung it on his wall. “As a teenager growing up on government assistance, I admired his focus and dedication to being the greatest regardless of the challenges and adversities he faced,” Mansour wrote on the company website.

Thompson said that when conventional channels to land Tyson failed, Mansour found out that his close friend in the D.C. area in turn knew a close friend of Tyson’s family. It was the opening the company needed, but still it was close; Thompson said the contract with Tyson literally wasn’t signed until the former champ stepped off his plane from Vegas.

It was enough to show Broncos quarterback Payton Manning a move or two. “It wasn’t until a month before the spot aired that we started analyzing things, and then were we were told by local agency ESB Advertising that we had a two week to get the spot together, so we had to do some last minute scrambling,” Thompson said.

As for how much the ad cost to produce and run, including Tyson’s contract, Thompson said he didn’t know, though the Washington Post reported Sunday that it was more than $100,000. But he insisted that the return on investment can’t really be judged based on the business it generates. (For starters, the ad was something of a bucket list item for Mansour.)

In fact, “We don’t expect a major sales increase from the ad,” Thompson noted. “The branding alone is what creates a top-minded awareness—and of course it’s for fun. But the weather is what brings customers in. So if we don’t experience a drop in temperature during the winter or a significantly hot summer, that’s what really affects us.”

Once the hoopla dies down, maybe Thompson will get some rest. And at the very least, he has the memory of being one of 200 extras in the ad.

Lou Carlozo

Posted In: Sales & Marketing

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