10.1.21

Kendall Scores Big: Herbert Partnership

Kallee Mendonca

Whether you’re an avid NFL viewer, or you happen to be the partner of an NFL fan, you’ve heard of Justin Herbert. Hell, if you’re an Oregon Duck, Traeger grill, or botched haircut fanatic, you’ve likely heard of Justin Herbert.

If you’re none of those things, Justin Herbert is the current starting quarterback for the Los Angeles Chargers. Herbert received the 2021 NFL AP Offensive Rookie of the Year award, and, like, got it by a landslide.

He was also the starting quarterback for the Oregon Ducks throughout his stint as a student-athlete, and it only took five games into his true freshman season to secure the starting spot. Non-sports people: that’s a huge deal.

Equally important to all of Herbert’s athletic accomplishments is the fact that he was also born and raised in Eugene, Oregon, making him quite the “hometown hero.” Eugene is the thread that connects us to this phenom of an athlete.

Our phenom of a client, Kendall Auto Group, also originates in Eugene, Oregon. We like to consider them somewhat of a hometown hero in Eugene as well, but more so in the auto industry. Similar to Herbert, Kendall is also extremely involved in their community.

Like most of the Eugene area, Kendall knew that Herbert was a rising star and had an incredible future in front of him. Like any good agency should, we knew the value of partnering with athletes, especially athletes of Herbert’s caliber. We urged Kendall to initiate conversations with Herbert about a potential partnership. In April 2020, Kendall secured the partnership, and honestly the rest is an advertising agency’s dream.

THE STRATEGY

While Kendall’s partnership with Herbert invigorated us, it also came with a bit of pressure. When the talent level is this high, so too are the stakes!

We really wanted Herbert to make a splash when introduced to the Kendall world. We especially wanted him to shine alongside some other Kendall spokespeople, former Boise State University football stars Kellen Moore and Leighton Vander Esch.

Our strategy was to use some of Herbert’s insanely good equity—handsome, good at football, no-drama, you get the picture—and bring it to the Kendall brand. Typically, our north star when writing for and directing our pro-athlete partners is Peyton Manning for his many years of big personality on the small screen, and more recently the work Progressive has done with Baker Mayfield.

So, we got down to one of our favorite activities: brainstorming.

THE EXECUTION 

We knew we wanted Herbert to be calling the shots, making a play on how quarterbacks call the shots in actual games. After a backhanded comment, we had our aha moment: armchair quarterback, literally. We latched onto that concept, and from there wrote three separate scripts.

Throughout the scripts, we sprinkled in personal details and ”inside jokes” that Herbert fans would pick up on.

In this first spot, there’s a cheeky reference to a botched haircut Herbert received from an athletic trainer during spring training, right before roster photos were taken no less. (No shade to Herbert.) We also make a slight nod to his love of smoking meats on his Traeger grill.

In addition to being a standout high school athlete, Herbert was also the president of his high school’s fishing club. This commercial has a small nod to that incredibly cool fact.

Rectangular image. Football stadium in the background, and a photo of a young Justin Herbert holding a large fish in the center. Text on the bottom center reads: JUSTIN HERBERT - SHELDON H.S. FISHING CLUB PRESIDENT

Photo courtesy of 247sports.com.

Outside of that, we wanted to make it a point to have Herbert “armchair quarterback” in situations where people really don’t need any help, like when they’re doing laundry, making a smoothie, or parallel parking. Like most armchair quarterbacks, the advice Justin gives is obvious, unwarranted, unwanted, or any combination of the three.

In these commercials, we never explicitly say the words “armchair quarterback.” We’re big on showing, not telling around here. But we will tell you this: each of these spots ends the same way–with Herbert sitting back, watching the Kendall team do their jobs. In the end of these spots, Herbert doesn’t need to “armchair quarterback” anyone because the Kendall team has it covered.

THE RECEPTION

Overall, these spots were a freakin’ touchdown! Twitter and Instagram blew up with fans cheering on their favorite quarterback, deeming him “Hollywood Herb.”

rectangular image - compilation of Instagram and Twitter reacting to the Justin Herbert commercial

Additionally, news outlets like ESPN, NBCSports, Yahoo, and the Charger’s blog among others shared posts lauding the commercials and Herbert’s performance.

JUST[IN] GETTING STARTED

We’re so happy that our client has such an incredible partner in Justin Herbert. In addition to being excellent in his chosen career, he also really cares about his community. He’s the exact kind of partner that Kendall wants because he’s a true representation of their own values.

He’s also one of those people who is great at everything they do: sports, fishing, grilling, and now he can add acting to that list.

Our CEO Eddie Moore directed the spots and had a glowing review: “I was blown away by how quickly Justin became comfortable with his role on set. His intelligence is well known, as he won the ‘academic Heisman’ in college, but it’s his enormous EQ that was palpable. He slipped into character immediately and needed almost no coaching when we gave him examples of tone or emphasis. There is no question he has the potential to be a superstar of the largest magnitude.”

Feel free to check out more of our work with Kendall Auto Group, and for the low, low price of an arm and a leg, we might be able to get you a Justin Herbert signed football.