TV Article

Say It Ain't Bo!

Bo Jackson's new Nike Ad -– The athlete plays a multitude of sports in the new sportswear commercials

''Don't I know you?'' Football Bo Jackson asks Baseball Bo Jackson. But before he can answer, in comes Hockey Bo, Bike Bo, Jockey Bo, Cricket Bo (Cricket Bo?), Surfer Bo, Race Car Bo, a bunch more Bo's, and finally Director Bo — '' Cut!''

In all, there are 15 Bo's in this latest Nike TV commercial, not one of them a faux Bo. When they all start talking to one another, well, it's bo-dacious.

The new 60-second Nike spot, ''Bo's Family Reunion,'' is one of the summer's biggest smiles, a showstopping follow-up to 1989's ''Bo Knows'' TV ad campaign (you know, the one in which Bo Jackson is declared master of every sport but doesn't know Diddley). Of course both campaigns have cleverly built on what people do know about the 27-year-old Jackson — that he plays outfield for the Kansas City Royals and running back for the Los Angeles Raiders.

''We had a tough act to follow from last year,'' says Jim Riswold, the author of the new commercial and the ''Bo Knows'' campaign. ''We've shown Bo can play just about every sport, and we decided that the only way he could possibly do all this is if he were 15 different people.'' (Riswold, an associate creative director for Wieden & Kennedy, Nike's Portland, Ore., ad agency, also did the company's Spike Lee-Michael Jordan TV spots.)

It took three days to shoot the beaucoup Bo's commercial in March in a Culver City, Calif., studio. Jackson performed 15 characters in front of a blank screen, and almost all of them required long, medium, and closeup takes. A special-effects team, using computers, spent three months putting the Bo's together, adding a locker-room backdrop, and merging eight soundtracks. ''Bo read all his lines the same speed so they could speak in unison,'' Riswold says. One small glitch: ''The Weight-lifting Bo says, 'Bo don't surf' a little out of sync with the rest of them.''

Amid all the Bo's, Sonny Bono walks through, scratches his head, and says, ''I thought this was another Bonos commercial.'' Says Riswold: ''We did that to pay homage to last year's commercials. And I wanted to have the stupidest joke in the history of advertising. I think I've succeeded.''

Can Bo and Nike come up with yet another winning encore? They may have already. In a Nike public-service message scheduled to air in August, Bo will appear as a Shakespearean actor, a physics professor, and a philosopher in a toga to encourage kids to stay in school. And still the possibilities aren't exhausted. Says Riswold: ''It'd be fun to do a Bo ad with him just sleeping.''

Does Bo doze?

Originally posted Jul 27, 1990 Published in issue #24 Jul 27, 1990 Order article reprints
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