New York Knicks Take a Beating in Ad Campaign Before Season Even Starts

FS1 pulls provocative subway ads in NYC

- Credit by Photo: @JMintzHoops/Twitter

As a team with four straight losing seasons, currently given 500-to-1 odds of winning the 2017-18 NBA championship, the New York Knicks are used to getting a bad rap.

A bad WRAP, however, the organization probably didn’t see coming.

New York media has been abuzz this week over Fox Sports 1’s bold orange-and-blue subway wraps on Grand Central to Times Square shuttle trains asking fans to pick a side: Are they “hopeful” or “hopeless” about the Knicks’ upcoming season?

Part of a broader initiative focused on hot (and potentially controversial) sports topics, the campaign’s “hopeless” aspect—which adorns one side of the subway cars—got the lion’s share of the press and generated massive social chatter.

Provocative seat copy invites fans to “Sit here if you blame Dolan” or “Sit here if you blame Melo,” references to team owner James Dolan and former star forward Carmelo Anthony. Other signage asserts that “The high point of the last 25 years was the movie Eddie,” a Knicks-themed flop from 1996 that for some reason paired Whoopi Goldberg and Frank Langella. (Who wouldn’t want to see that?!)

“Hopeful” messaging, on the opposite side of the trains, includes the assertion that “Porzingis was designed in a lab,” a reference to 7-foot-3 scoring machine Kristaps Porzingis.

“Today, FS1 featured statements on a New York City subway car intended to reflect the distinct emotions and opinions of passionate sports fans, ” the network said late Tuesday, after briefly riding the boisterous buzz for all it was worth. “We regret the tone and are removing the content in its entirety.”

So, the ads, which debuted Monday, are being benched. Unlike, say, Joakim Noah or Tim Hardaway Jr., poster boys for the “hopeless” side of the campaign, whose ginormous contracts guarantee them playing time even if they stink up the joint.

Meanwhile, the Knicks dropped their first pre-season game last night 115-107 to the Brooklyn Nets, a team with 1000-to-1 odds of winning it all this year.

It’s looking hopeless all right.

@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.
Publish date: October 4, 2017 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT