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K-Swiss joins forces with ‘world-class athlete’ Kenny Powers


ED’S NOTE: This analysis reflects my interest in advertising and promotion as a marketing student. No agency or product is endorsed. The opinions expressed here are mine and in no way reflect the opinions of my employers.

UPDATE 1-23-2012: The original clips for this post were taken off the K-Swiss YouTube channel, but I found them posted on 72andSunny’s channel.

In the runup to the Sept. 26 second-season premiere of HBO’s original comedy Eastbound and Down, K-Swiss (NASDAQ: KSWS) has enlisted the talents of foul-mouthed, has-been baseball player Kenny Powers to promote its line of Tubes athletic shoes.

Expect this campaign to go viral fast. Three videos are included here.

The six-episode first season starring Danny McBride premiered Feb. 15, 2009, to critical acclaim, but only a handful of viewers. Fans would come later — in droves — to watch as Kenny as he drank too much, swore too much, and did too many drugs, all in a thickheaded effort to achieve the major league superstardom he had squandered years ago. (Along the way, viewers also watched him “educate” in the North Carolina public school system and run the better part of a driveway.) True to anything touched by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, the series was silly, raucous, and terrific fun for those who are 14 years old at heart and giggle at the word “booger.” The season was too short, and the hiatus was too long (we last saw Kenny on March 22, 2009). Patient fans will gladly click the K-Swiss video series to get more of their awesome antihero.

Actor McBride makes the most of every second of the Tubes clips, which feature sports figures Patrick Willis, Jeremy Shockey, and MMA champ Urijah Faber. Kenny’s over-the-top bravado plays just as well in the promotion as it does in the series. The tagline — “Get Tubes. Get training.” — and the joke acronym  — Totally Unbelievably Badass (and) Extremely Stealth-like — are just as ridiculously memorable as some of the show’s best lines. (“You look like you shoplift your **** from Fashion Bug.” Season 1, Chapter 4.)

Eastbound & Down co-creator Jody Hill directs the shorts, and it’s not his first time working with a comic campaign. The native North Carolinian also worked on Toyota’s Sienna Family campaign that launched this year. (e.g. “Daddy Like.” and the “Swagger Wagon” rap.) The K-Swiss campaign, which is masterminded by L.A. agency 72andSunny, officially kicked off July 30 on Funnyordie.com with a video featuring Kenny Powers in negotations. Sorry, link only for that one. Note: The video’s language is not safe for work and parental discretion is advised, so put some headphones on and/or put the kids to bed: It’s really funny. (As Kenny says, if you don’t like it, change yer mind.)

Don’t know Kenny Powers? Want to? Check out the first season on HBO.com. Season two of Eastbound & Down airs Sept. 26. Check local listings for times.

Author: Jacqui Barrineau

Jacqui Barrineau is a writer and editor who lives in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., with husband Trey, a Shetland Sheepdog and two unhelpful-but-funny cats. Her work has appeared in "So to Speak" and "Calliope," and she's a regular contributor to the flash-fiction sites Paragraph Planet and Doorknobs & Bodypaint. Once upon a time, she was the audience engagement editor at USA Today. Now she does other fun things that involve advertising, marketing and social media. The views expressed here and in other outlets are hers, not her clients'. Outside of work, she's proud to serve on the Northern Virginia Community College Marketing Advisory Committee. As a committee member, she joins industry leaders in lending their knowledge and expertise to ensure the college's Marketing curriculum is relevant and responsive to the needs of the students and the surrounding business communities.