By Barry Janoff
March 19, 2016: John Thompson III, the head basketball coach for the University of Georgetown Hoyas, knows a lot about hoops but apparently not much about lawn care.
Despite that, he has become a gardening guru in a series of NCAA March Madness spots for Lowe's and Scotts Miracle-Gro.
For the third year, Scotts, an official partner with MLB, is using a a buy-through via its association with Lowe's, an official NCAA partner, to share its message during March Madness.
The three-week long basketball tournament coincides with something known as the first day of spring (March 20), about which Scotts knows a great deal but, again, JT3 not so much.
The humorous multimedia campaign, anchored by a series of spots, "Ask JT3," airing across NCAA March Madness media partners CBS and Turner Sports' TBS, TNT and truTV, establishes "JT3" as the go-to guy for all things green and growing.
The campaign is under the auspices of Lowe's Lead agency, BBDO.
Marysville, Ohio-based Scotts does have a lengthy list of products and tips intended to help people transition from winter to spring — look out for snow mold when the snow melts, prepare your lawn mower before using it, feed your lawn while controlling weeds — but Thompson has yet to discover them.
In one spot, "Bulldogs," a guy sitting at home says, "Hi coach, my dog is always running round on my lawn. Is there a particular seed that stands up to traffic?"
Thompson, standing in a basketball gym in front of an NCAA banner, asks, "What kind of dog is it? A bulldog?" referencing the Hoyas' mascot.
The guy is legitimately puzzled. "Uh, no."
"You sure," says Thompson. "Because there are all kinds of bulldogs. English Bulldogs. French Bulldogs. Victorian Bulldogs. Red-Tiger Bulldogs . . ."
A voiceover offers, "Scotts Lawn Care products at Loew's," and the spot directs people to get real information at Lowes.com/lawncare, which offers a "personalized lawn care plan."
In another spot, "Stretch," a woman standing in front of her shed asks, "Hey, coach. I'm about to mow the lawn. Anything I should do before I start?"
JT3 replies, "You should stretch for 30 minutes. You don't want to pull a hammy (hamstring)."
In "Blue Grass," a guy in his yard says, "Hey, coach. I'm wondering what type of grass I should plant. Do you know anything about Kentucky bluegrass?"
An irate JT3 then says to someone off-screen, "I was under the impression there would be no questions about Kentucky."
A Twitter component, #AskJT3, has, unfortunately for the campaign, opened the door for people to ask Thompson, who has been Georgetown's head coach since 2004, all sorts of things, including, "Hey, Coach, remember that time you lost to Florida Gulf Coast (in the 2013 NCAA tournament)?" and "Should my lawn have a point guard? Should my lawn commit fewer fouls? Should my lawn learn to run a pick-and-roll?"
Lowe's has its own campaign running during March Madness, including "Unicorn," which offers its own version of lawn care; and "Giraffe."
Scotts has been a partner with MLB since 2010.
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