- The upstart streaming TV service fuboTV has rolled out a series of ads designed to push people’s buttons. The character Fubo Chavez has irked some, but also drawn some fans in social media, which the campaign’s authors say was the plan. Since the start of the NFL season, the ads have helped fuboTV surpass the 100,000 subscriber mark.
Here was the key goal for fuboTV’s ad campaign: piss off as many people as possible.
The upstart streaming service, which is primarily geared for sports fans, has an uphill climb against deep-pocketed competitors marketing cable alternatives to cord-cutters: YouTube TV, Hulu Live and Sony’s PlayStation Vue.
So it had to make noise quickly and ideally generate some controversy. Enter Fubo Chavez, and his “package.”
You can see for yourself. The character, dubbed the “World’s Greatest Fan,’ is seen talking up fuboTV’s package of sports channels, all while he loses his towel in the locker room, causing an onlooker to strike a shocked gaze while looking toward Chavez’s crotch.
“We knew what we were doing,” said Ian Wishingrad, Founder and Creative Director of the ad agency BigEyedWish.
“If you are trying to not offend, you are going to be just another ad. So you try and walk the line between getting the right amount of chatter while you don’t want to get pulled off the air.”
Based on the Twitter reaction to Fubo Chavez ads, which debuted at the start of this NFL season, mission accomplished.
We won't ever use Fubo (whatever that is) after their "commercial" just aired in front of my kids. #inappropriate
— Richard Pickrell (@RichardPickrell) September 17, 2017
That Fubo Chavez commercial… Surprised someone greenlit that in today's atmosphere.
— SportsFront (@Sports_Front) September 16, 2017
— Craig Bowman (@craigab1) September 17, 2017
Fubo should've saved that commercial for the super bowl.
— haulin' glass (@jrwelch22) September 16, 2017
Fubo Chavez may be divisive, but that’s the point.
But who is Fubo Chavez? According to Wishingrad, his inspirations included Sasha Baron Cohen’s characters like Borat as well as recent breakout ad campaign fictional figureheads such as Dos Equis’ ‘The Most Interesting Man in the World‘ and the Old Spice guy.
“He’s that European soccer guy Americans love to laugh at.”
Pamela Duckworth, executive producer, Duckworth Entertainment, helped steward in the Chavez ads. She’d previously run creative production at DirecTV, which featured Rob Lowe in a series of ads featuring a similarly goofy character.
This time around, Duckworth estimates that her team was working with a budget that was about one-eighth that of DirecTV’s. So a breakout message was key. “For our target, sports is probably the only reason they’re holding onto TV and cable,” she said. “We’re trying to get them to think, ‘maybe now I can really cut the cord.'”
So far, Fubo Chavez seems to be registering with fuboTV surpassing the 100,000 paying subscriber number. The service was initially launched primarily to serve soccer fans in the U.S. But more recently it’s put together a lineup of 80 cable networks people can stream live over the internet starting at $19.99 a month. The ‘package’ includes everything from sports networks like FS1 to the Big Ten Network to NBCSN as well as Bravo (the glaring sports network that is absent is ESPN).
Alberto Horihuela, fuboTV’s Chief Marketing Officer, said a key part of fuboTV’s success to date has been that it offers fans access to regional sports networks that carry their favorite local team’s games. That emphasis has been missing from other streaming offerings, he said.
This week, the company is rolling out new ads touting the fact that fuboTV features the New York sports network MSG, which carries New York Knicks and New York Rangers games.
The ad shows Chavez in what seems to be a Chinese restaurant, talking up the addition of “MSG,” even as a nearby waiter keeps responding that his restaurant has “no MSG.”
“Our competition is trying to get by on volume,” said Horihuela. “We had to get by on memorability.” Horihuela believes fuboTV’s potential male soccer fans get Fubo Chavez’s mystique, but “I don’t’ know about their wives or grandparents.”