By Barry Janoff
March 15, 2013: The convergence of the NBA season and March Madness is proving to been a boon for Charles Barkley. He is on-air as an analyst for the NBA on TNT, he is part of the broadcast crew from CBS and Turner covering the NCAA Div. I men's basketball tournament and he is in a new multi-media campaign from Capital One alongside actor Alec Baldwin.
Now, he is hitting the airways and Internet as IT employee Charles Barkley for CDW, a leading provider of technology solutions for business, government, education and healthcare.
The role is a reprisal for Barkley from a campaign unveiled last year by CDW, under the umbrella theme "People Who Get IT." He first appeared in "The Ringer" to help fictitious company Gordon & Taylor win a corporate basketball league championship, and then came back in the “Client Golfer,” where he won new business by losing to clients on the golf course.
This time, Barkley is deployed in the "Road Warrior," showing how CDW technology can aid businesses "with the latest technology products and mobility solutions."
The initial TV spot breaks this weekend and will air throughout March Madness on CBS, TNT, TBS and truTV before going into regular rotation. Support includes print, Internet and social media such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Liinkedin and Spiceworks.
Lead agency is Ogilvy & Mather, Chicago, and the spots were directed by Joe Pytka.
A microsite, “Winning on the Road,” enables visitors to follow Gordon & Taylor’s journey in a souped-up, high-tech vehicle — which CDW said is "not a bus, not an RV. It's the Ultimate Technology Vehicle" — which will be taken on the road to cities and sports venues nationwide so that people can see how CDW "powers high-profile sports facilities."
“Everything about the IT landscape is evolving and our Winning on the Road campaign is meant to underscore how we help customers win and navigate complexity no matter where they are,” Neal Campbell, svp and CMO for Vernon Hills, Ill.-based CDW, said in a statement.
In earlier iterations, Barkley the nerdy IT guy turned into Barkley the hoops hero to guide the Gordon & Taylor team to victory; then reverted to Barkley the golfer, who — like the real-life Barkley — had trouble with his golf swing, even with the help of LPGA star Paula Creamer.
In "Road Warrior" — which appears to have been filmed either before Barkley lost some 45 lbs. via Weight Watchers or at a more recent time when he put that weight back on — the basketball Hall of Famer hits the road in the Gordon & Taylor Ultimate Technology Vehicle, which has been fully equipped to resemble an office on wheels.
"This company wins at everything," Gordon & Taylor's faux CEO explains. "Especially business. And if you want to win at business, you have to win on the road."
Fortunately for Gordon & Taylor, they have the ultimate road warrior on their team: Charles Barkley.
"Why Charles Barkley?" asks the CEO. "Because he's a winner." After a pregnant pause, he continues, "No, really! Haven't we established that by now?"
Barkley is then shown around the state-of-the-art office. An co-worker takes Barkley on a tour, explaining, "CDW helped us outfit it with HP OfficeJet Pro X printers, mobility enabled tablets and a server room that uses Cisco UCS Servers."
Ultimately, Barkley and crew are able to conduct meetings and conduct all their business, despite some bumps in the road such as potholes and detours into forests."When the rubber met the road and the sales figures were in, we were a success," the CEO beams as Barkley tosses crumpled-up photocopies of a basketball at a trash can. (See the full spot here.)
“This creative theme allows us to demonstrate our deep IT capabilities and leading technology partnerships, while continuing to engage customers in a humorous, meaningful way," said CDW's Campbell.
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