The Toronto Blue Jays have been forced to revise a television commercial featuring Frank Thomas after the ad drew objections from the Television Bureau of Canada, a regulatory body for private broadcasters.
A 30-second spot that shows the 6-foot-5, 275-pound designated hitter taking part in a pillow fight with two young boys was edited to remove a scene where Thomas knocks one of the boys off a bed and onto the floor. The original commercial still will air on CBC television, a public broadcaster that can set its own standards for content and advertising.
The original ad begins with the two boys standing on a bed hitting it out with their pillows. Thomas walks up the stairs and tells them they’re meant to be in bed. In response the boys pummel him with their pillows. “Oh yeah?”, he says, before knocking one of the guys off the bed with his pillow. Thomas leaves the room with a smile on his face as the youngster gets to his feet and says, “Wow.” The super: “Frank Thomas. Designated Hitter, Toronto Blue Jays. It’s Always Game Time”. The ad finishes with shots of Thomas in action onfield, with a link to bluejays.com
Credits and Disclaimers
The Pillow Fight ad was developed at Publicis, Toronto by copywriter Miles Markovic and Jim Borwick, art director Mark Spalding
The ad will be edited to show the boy popping into the air (rather than falling to the ground) when struck by Thomas. The new commercial also features a disclaimer reading “Dramatization. Do not try this at home.”
Laurel Lindsay, vice president of marketing for the Blue Jays, said the controversy over the commercial was ridiculous. “Clearly we have taken ourselves entirely too seriously if we have given a pillow fight this much attention,” Lindsay said. “The reaction we’re getting from the fans is that people can’t even believe this is an issue. Everybody is entitled to their opinion, and the bureau’s role is they feel that somehow a child is being put in harm’s way and they need to step in and make sure it’s clarified. That’s their prerogative.”
Thomas, also known as the “Big Hurt”, is a father of three. When filming the commercial, during training in Florida last month, he was concerned that the ad be clearly humorous and fun-filled. He did not want to be seen as violent.
What concerns me more is the state of the balustrade on the staircase. It wobbles when Thomas grabs it at the top of the stairs. ;>)