Your Kid’s Not Going Pro

A Youth Sports Blog

The greatest youth sports commercial ever, damn it

with 8 comments

Don’t you hate when you see a really good ad that you know is trying to manipulate you, and you’re powerless to resist? One that makes you hate yourself, the company, the advertising agency and anyone who’s in the room seeing you weep? Well, the folks at the Florida-based supermarket chain Publix — well, probably its ad agency — have come up with such a spot.

It’s called “First Game,” and it’s designed to tie in with Publix’s sponsorship of youth soccer. Judging by the YouTube posting date, the ad has been around for nearly a year, but I just caught it the other day thanks to a post by Fatpickled.

Yes, the gender roles seems retrograde, with Mom handling all the groceries. Yes, it is a grocery chain handling the ad, so the family has bought enough postgame food to feed every soccer team from Pensacola to Plantation. Yes, the light piano music is incredibly manipulative.

But damn if the ad agency (I’m still looking to see which one it was) didn’t capture the essence of a child’s first organized game. The nervous parents, the kid who may or may not be adept or paying attention, the dad who isn’t sure what to think when it’s clear his kid isn’t getting the game right away, the parent who’s not sure how the child is going to react when the game is over, the relief when it appears the kid has had a good time. It’s a lot of emotion squeezed into one minute and a shitload of grocery shots, but the ad does it right.

Prepare to be moved, and to hate yourself for being moved.

[youtubevid id=”HtAwOpQBYPI”]


Written by rkcookjr

October 6, 2009 at 12:09 am

8 Responses

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  1. Damn it!!!
    That was great, and I hate myself.


    October 6, 2009 at 12:27 am

  2. I could totally relate — as a mom who watches her five-year-old at ballet class. She wanders around; she stares at the ceiling; she totally effs up the five positions. And she thinks she rocks. Our role as parents? To shut up and smile.

    Lisa Takeuchi Cullen

    October 6, 2009 at 9:47 am

  3. Lisa, I think watching your kids in ballet or sports or some activity is harder than sending them off to school. Because when they’re doing the activity, you’re there — and you can’t say or do a damn thing. It seems that learning how to squelch and/or manage this instinct is the key to whether you’ll be a good sports/activity parent, or whether your child is gathering material for the family therapist’s couch.

    Bob Cook

    October 6, 2009 at 10:32 am

  4. It never gets any easier, even when the little kid becomes an adult. I have a 26 year old who has finally found a vocation that suits him and is diligently working his way through school. Just like the little kid in the commercial, you just have to clap and smile (oh yeah – spend money) and let them own what they’re doing. Tom Medlicott


    October 6, 2009 at 10:44 am

  5. I’m sorry, I don’t agree that “First Game” is a good commercial. As a long-time fan of classic commercials that target an audience and then connect with them without feeling manipulative, I couldn’t help but notice that the execution here is off, starting at 0:44. Dad hugs kid as kid asks “did you watch me?” in a dispirited tone. Kid’s tone then changes jarringly: “I was awesome!” in true over-child-acted style. (You can just see the ad men in the conference room going for the jugular–“don’t reveal it too early,” “throw them off the scent with the aura of defeat!”). In addition, the dad character acts like he’s been lobotomized and his only remaining faculty is “worried parent.” Where’s the fun of seeing your little guy screw up a few times? The whole thing made me wince.


    October 6, 2009 at 11:33 am

  6. Fin — no need to apologize for not liking it, and you have a worthy critique. However, if you’ve ever been to a youth sports game or child-centered event full of parent spectators, you’ve probably noticed a lot of parents who seem like they got an icepick to the brain right before the first whistle.

    Bob Cook

    October 6, 2009 at 11:50 am

  7. I’ve put two kids through a year of ballet (my son, in a flannel shirt and jeans, looking all the more like a dancing bear) and now a couple of years at Youth Soccer.
    I didn’t have a parental role model to teach me the crazed shouting at the coach and a child on the field. Honestly, the other parents at “swarmball” need to relax. If my kids burn off some energy, escape injury, develop a little coordination, and learn something about playing on a team, I’m content.
    Math, on the other hand…


    October 6, 2009 at 1:20 pm

  8. Steve, if you need a role model to learn how to yell like a veteran sports parent, at the risk of being self-referential I give you this:

    Bob Cook

    October 6, 2009 at 1:25 pm

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