It’s called the “Fifteenth Minute.”
That’s the name of Izod’s get-out-the-vote ad starring Ken Bone, who entered the national conversation when, clad in a bright red Izod sweater, he asked a question about energy at the town-hall-styled second presidential debate on Oct. 9 in St. Louis.
The ad starts at his home with Bone trimming up his mustache, then donning his red Izod sweater before he jets to Washington, D.C. to urge people to vote.
“I’m not a politician,” says Bone in the ad’s narration. “I’m just a guy with a positive message.”
Bone’s new ad follows a recent online Q&A–known as an AMA for “ask me anything”–on Reddit. That led to the discovery of controversial posts he made on some forums.
“We’re going to learn how you effect change for a positive even when something bad happens,” Bone says in the narration. “I’m pretty high on the wave of the political process right now.”
“We can’t pretend that the negative stuff doesn’t affect us, ‘cuz it does,” adds his wife, Heather Bone, in the ad. Heather is the one who picked out the sweater for his debate appearance.
“I’m not running for president. I can say whatever I want,” Bone told The Associated Press.
Bone became an Internet sensation after his debate appearance. Here is what the website Romper had to say:
“Ken won the hearts and minds of the American people. Since his primetime appearance, Ken’s earned 175,000 Twitter followers, plenty of interviews, and the admiration of fans everywhere.”
The unlikely pitchman resonates with a broad spectrum, ad specialists said.
“Being the ‘everyman’ is very appealing to consumers,” said Bob Williams, chief executive of Burns Entertainment & Sports Marketing.
Williams cautioned that endorsements have the potential to backfire.
“Brands always need to be careful and do complete due diligence on a celebrity before hiring them. There are a things in a celebrity’s background can surface after an endorsement deal is signed, which can be embarrassing and hurtful to a brand’s reputation and performance.”
Mike Kelly, an executive vice president for the marketing group of PVH Corp., the publicly-held company that owns Izod, said Bone “selected us” when he popped up on television wearing one of Izod’s sweaters.
”He pulled us into the pop culture conversation through his holiday-red sweater,” Kelly said.
Kelly said he and his team began paying attention to Bone after the debate.
“The next thing I know, he’s on CNN and he becomes the meme of the week,” Kelly said. “There’s no question he hit a nerve in the culture in the middle of that debate.”
Kelly said PVH marketers first envisioned a mock campaign commercial starring Bone and ending with the coal company employee’s declaration that “I am Ken Bone, and I approved this sweater.”
After negative press started dribbling out, Izod’s team pivoted.
Kelly said they got comfortable with Bone the longer they spent time with him in his suburban St. Louis home.
“We decided at that point that the message was bigger than him.”
So they made a two-minute video calling on Americans not to give up on the political process, Kelly said.
At one point last Friday, the video – which briefly aired on television – ranked 27th on YouTube’s trending list.
“It’s very, very hard to do that without paying money,” Kelly said.
Kelly declined to say how much the company paid Bone for his cooperation.