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New ad premieres during first game

Aaron Steiner | Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The University asked millions of Irish football viewers what they would ‘fight for’ in a new television commercial that aired during Saturday’s game coverage on NBC stations across the country.

Notre Dame will air a new two-minute spot, like the one seen this weekend, during each home game this season, associate vice president of marketing Todd Woodward said.

The commercials feature the University’s “What Would You Fight For?” ad campaign, which was created last fall. The ad campaign is designed to intertwine the University’s athletic, Catholic and academic reputations.

“Most people know us as the Fighting Irish; most people know us as a Catholic university,” Woodward said. But through the football broadcasts, Notre Dame is able to “shine a light” on academics and research at Notre Dame.

The ads showcase the relationships between students and faculty members as well as the plethora of research opportunities on campus – all while tying the “fights” going on at Notre Dame to the University’s football heritage, Woodward said.

The ads also attempt to “show the real world effect of research at Notre Dame,” Woodward said.

The most recent ad explained the work of 2008 graduate Pablo Nava and his fight for improved standards of living in Mexico.

In the ad, Nava narrates the storyline that led him to his current work, stating the average worker in Mexico works 12-hour shifts and is paid two dollars an hour.

“I knew I wanted to help the people of Mexico,” Nava said in the ad.

Nava also won Notre Dame’s Social Venture Competition and started his own company, Por Fin Nuestra Casa, which takes unused shipping containers and converts them into small, four-walled homes complete with electricity and running water.

Of the remaining five commercials scheduled to air this season, four will feature stories like Nava’s, while one will focus on the importance of voting, Woodward said.

This year’s commercials also feature a familiar voice to many American television viewers – Martin Sheen. Sheen, an actor and self-described human rights activist, is the University’s most recent Laetare Medal recipient.

“I was talking to [Associate Vice President] Father Jim McDonald, and said ‘boy, [Sheen] would be a great narrator,'” Woodward said. “I do hope people recognize his voice.”

Woodward said the University strives to create spots that “make alumni proud” while telling other sports and Irish fans something new about the University.

“We expect people to say, ‘Wow, I didn’t know that was the kind of work going on at Notre Dame,'” Woodward said.

Prior to the “What Would You Fight For?” campaign, the University produced one-minute spots working with an outside ad agency.

Starting last fall, though, the University began to work with NBC to create the spots as part of the contract between the University and NBC that gives NBC exclusive rights to broadcast all home games.

“We work directly with NBC for over six months to produce the six spots,” Woodward said. The University receives help from NBC at a “very inexpensive” rate.