By Barry Janoff
Originally Published in MediaPost
December 19, 2016: In one of the defining moments of his career, Herm Edwards, then head coach for the NFL’s New York Jets, responded during a press conference in 2002 to a question about his team not playing well enough to win by indignantly stating, “You play the game to win! Hello. You play the game to win!”
Edwards, now an analyst with ESPN, is channeling the line in a new multi-media campaign for Mars Inc. brands Skittles, Snickers and M&Ms, along with retail partner Walmart, "The Almost Game-Time Show."
The effort is asking people to submit videos of themselves "that depict and showcase your awesome football pre-game talent/routine," using Skittles, Snickers or M&Ms as a prop.
The most entertaining videos will be featured on "The Almost Game-Time Show" before Super Bowl LI kicks off on Feb. 5, 2017, on Fox, according to Mars, expected to be both on-air and online.
The very best will get from the candy company tickets to Super Bowl LII, scheduled for Feb. 4, 2018 in U.S. Bank Stadium, home for the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings.
"It’s the Super Bowl, so don’t hold anything back," according to a dedicated campaign Web site. "Here’s what the judges will be looking for: Humor, unexpectedness and interesting and appropriate use of Snickers, M&M’s and/or Skittles candy."
The campaign, which runs now through Jan. 20, features a 90-second spot with Edwards, supported by digital, social media and POP.
Snickers and Skittles will also have their own 30-second spots during the game, including a joint Skittles-Snickers promotion.
In the spot, we find Edwards standing in front of a large house in the suburbs. He blows a whistle and says, "Coach Herm Edwards here. I played football. I coached football. I’ve analyzed football. Now, I’m looking for the most talented fans in football."
He goes inside and says, "I’m teaming up with Skittles and Snickers to host 'The Almost Game-Time Show.' If you have a sweet pre-game routine, let’s see it. It could score you tickets to Super Bowl Fifty-TWO."
We then see examples of what Mars is seeking: A senior citizen who tosses aside his walker and breaks into a dance routine (joined by Edwards himself) while holding a package of Skittles; a kid building a football snack stadium out of Skittles, Snickers and M&Ms; and a guy wearing a football helmet singing in a bathtub filled with candy.
Edwards next finds a guy dressed in Renaissance clothing and softly playing a lyre. Employing the Snickers tag line, "You’re not you when you’re hungry," the guy takes a bite of a Snickers bar and reverts to his normal self — dressed in a football jersey and loudly banging a bass drum.
Edwards heads outside and sits at a talk show type desk, surrounded by football fans and mascots. Then, urging on viewers, he says in his defining phrase, "Come on. You play to win the game!"
Mars is asking people to submit videos to the dedicated Web site or via Twitter and Instagram with the hash tag #AlmostGameTimeContest.
Skittles’ lead agency is Adam & Eve/DDB Chicago. Snickers’ lead agency is BBDO.
Fox is asking for upward of $5 million for a 30-second spot during Super Bowl LI, being played in NRG Stadium home for the NFL’s Houston Oilers.
Via the campaign, Edwards may become the second-most famous football celebrity associated with Skittles.
Former NFL running back Marshawn Lynch, whose mom used it to motivate him when he was a kid, ate the candy while on the sidelines of televised games, which earned him an endorsement deal with the brand.
Skittles also had its time in the recent presidential election when Donald Trump Jr. compared Syrian refugees to a bowl of Skittles. The Mars brand responded, "Skittles are candy. Refugees are people."
Edwards has continued to use the phrase "You play to win the game!" as a motivational speaker hired by companies and as the name of his book. Footage from the Jets’ press conference with Edwards was also used as part of a humorous Coors Light commercial in 2009.