By Barry Janoff
January 8, 2015: Yes. And don't call me Shirley.
In 1980, directors/writers David and Jerry Zucker and Jim Abrahams sent the irreverent movie Airplane! crashing into theaters. It featured a plethora of stars spouting clever and crazy lines in a plot that was a loopy send-up of a bevy of cliche Hollywood genres.
The cast and creators of Airplane! have staged a reunion of sorts over the past year via a multimedia marketing effort from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism.
A trio of TV spots have focused on three seasons and the benefits of being in Wisconsin that come with each: Summer and Fall, which aired in 2014; and Winter, which breaks this week.
They each star Robert Hays (Ted Striker), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Roger Murdock) and Otto, the inflatable autopilot. Creative was handled by the Zuckers and Abrahams.
The Zucker brothers were born in Milwaukee, Abrahams was born in Shorewood, Abdul-Jabbar played with the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks (1969-75), winning a league title there in 1971.
“This winter TV spot completes a series of ads that combined gorgeous, aerial footage in three different seasons with our brand of fun,” Wisconsin Tourism secretary Stephanie Klett said in a statement.
The Wisconsin Department of Tourism said the purpose of these spots and other advertising is to "market the state as the Midwest’s premier travel destination for fun by executing industry-leading marketing programs and establishing strategic partnerships." The Department said it plays a "significant role in generating greater economic impact and jobs for Wisconsin."
The new spot, "There's Nothing Better Than Winter In Wisconsin," will run in Milwaukee, Chicago and the Twin Cities through Feb. 8,; and in Chicago movie cinemas through Feb. 19.
Other winter campaign components include radio, out of home, print, social media and digital advertising.
Like the first two spots, "Stars Shirley Love Wisconsin Summers" and "Throttle Up For Fall In Wisconsin," the new spot is laden with images, sounds and convoluted dialogue reminiscent of Airplane!
At one point, while doing a Wisconsin flyover that shows off the state’s scenic beauty and winter outdoor activities, pilot Striker asks copilot Murdoch to check on the plane's altitude — which Murdoch does by sticking his arm out out the window and scooping up a handful of snow.
In the Fall ad, when their plane appears to be skimming the tops of trees, Striker exclaims to copilot Murdoch, "We're too low, Roger." "You can call me Kareem if you want," Murdoch replies, soon seen wearing a Milwaukee Bucks jersey and shorts in place of his pilot's uniform, a reference to the movie itself when a kid visiting the cockpit is convinced that Murdock is really Abdul-Jabbar.
In the Summer spot, dialogue between the two is almost straight out of Airplane!
Murdoch: Roger? My name is Kareem.
Striker: Kareem?! Surely you can't be serious.
Murdock: I am serious. And don't call me Shirley.
Striker: Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit flying.
According to Klett, “We are so fortunate to have such a great team of people behind these ads, which have generated a phenomenal amount of national exposure for tourism in Wisconsin.”
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