No, this is not a diorama from someone kept in fifth grade for twenty-five straight years. This is the digital shrine to running as developed by Carl & Karl Underwood, running's number one superfans! As a favor to the Brooks company
( and with tremendous help from the creative agency, Great Society), Randy and Jason Sklar, hosts of ESPN's Cheap Seats, portray their alter egos, Carl & Karl Underwood in this digital universe dedicated to keeping running fun. Done with total tongue in cheek, and ripping to shreds every part of our running culture, the Sklar brothers make us laugh until we cry. Nothing is sacred, and that, ( to use the phrase used by a formerly incarcerated domestic goddess), is a 'good thing." (If you look real close at the little TV screen, you can see one of the Carl & Karl Underwood brothers' faces.)
If I remembered anything from the art history class I slept through about twenty five years ago, I would say that Runningsuperfans.com reminds me of a combination of the mystical fifteenth century painter, Hieronymous Bosch (remember Garden of Earthly Delights? then google it) meets Borat meets Mad Magazine meets Bob Newhart. Cultural icons all, but this garden of humorous delights pokes fun, and pokes fun at all.
How do I give our gentle readers a cultural comparison of Carl & Karl Underwood? Let's try this: Carl & Karl Underwood are like Larry, Larry and his other brother Larry from the old Bob Newhart. Well, except that there are only two of the Underwoods, and you would have to take Larry & Larri and have them discover running, get caffeinated up on about eighty pounds of Peets coffee, sniff some Shoe Glue, take a class in digital design and devote their live to sharing the joys of running. Their magnum opus, the aforementioned website is, quite honestly, one of the most innovative, goofy, creative and fun websites that I have traversed in along time. Called Runningsuperfans.com, this whimsical, interactive website has hidden jewels from left to right and right to left, giving the viewer a lot of fun stuff to discover, and reminds us that running, after all, is one of the few joys of life that we have some control over.
Dave's Deep thoughts
Brooks' Dave Larson, their VP of Marketing and Light Hauling (yep, check his card and website, that is what it says), has not only an acute sense of humor, but wanted to find a way for his brand to stand out. Last January, when I visited him at the global head quarters in Bothell, Washington, he was a week before hip surgery. Over coffee (what else does one drink in the Northwest?), Dave intimated that he was working on some very unusual creative in print and in digital form. He was very excited working with his new creative agency, Great Society, as well. I remember him telling me, " this could end up being really cool."
Well, Mr. Larson is not one prone to overstatement, but the new website www.runningsuperfans.com is great place to retreat from the real world. There is the practical and impractical. Taking clues from our running culture, from running numbers to awards, televisions, books, notebooks and a shoe, the site gives you the top ten running books, the top ten running songs, the top ten running legends, all tongue in cheek, but with some real depth! Where else would you find War & Peace by Leo Tolstoy and Cormac McCarthy on a Top Ten Running Books List? The Hansons Brooks team has a page, by tapping onto a picture frame of one of the Hansons' team. There is also a great running shoe advisor and Brooks Running Shoe area, linked to a running shoe that lifts itself up as one of the Karl's emotes, "Running Shoe."
The website has a diorama feel, and one can not help from feeling like a a nine year old kid on ones' birthday, wanting to know what is in the next wrapped box from their crazy but adored Uncles Carl & Karl. Well, you will not have to wait long, as there are hidden treasures all over the site.
Runningsuperfans.com-a running shrine
The super fans' website is a "running shrine" developed by Carl and Karl Underwood, running's #1 fans , as portrayed by Randy and Jason Sklar, who have made many of us laugh on EPSN's Cheap Seats, Comedy Central or you may have seen them on My Best Week Ever, on VH1.
These guys, the Underwoods (or is it Sklars?) are total geeks, and the journey through their Garden of Running De-Lites is a well earned reward for surviving another day in our modern culture. If you start left to right, you touch a running statue and see the Top Ten Running Legends, ( Paavo Nurmi, starts it, with some good surprises), then, there is the old eight millimeter Keystone movie projector (my folks have one at home, where we watched movies of my three sisters, brother and myself love/maul our poor dog, Miss Brutus-but that is another blog), where one gets to see five (more movies to come) very funny movie shorts.
It's all about the Super Fans' Movies!
The first, Super Fans perform a Public Service, shows Carl & Karl hosting a nipple taping stand. They are actually taping nipples. They ten pull off a nipple tape off a very hairy guy, and then, Run Happy!
The second is Super Fans pushing to the limit, shows Karl loosing all sense of reality at mile 38 of his supposed 148 mile run! When he shous out, " Say Good bye to my kids", Carl reminds him he has no children. Touching, still.
The Super Fans Set the Pace is almost sadistic as Carl & Karl have commandeered a ice cream truck, driving it seven miles an hour, just out of reach of sugar needy kids, and offering them an ice cream for a five minute mile. " Running is the new currency" one of the Carls shouts out as one kids pukes and others come to a stand still. (Yes, this is my favorite).
The SuperFans outrun the long arm of the law-Carl & Karl tempt an officer of the law off his motorcycle for a free hot dog, but he has to run with them and hand them a baton. The hand off goes quite smooth--which does not go by without the obligatory--"We could have used you in Beijing last summer"-alluding to the 4x 100 meter relay fiasco of the U.S. men's and women's relay teams. The truth is, if they had not commented on it, they would not have been running's #1 super fans.
The SuperFans Crisscross cultures-as Carl & Karl happen upon, after dark, perhaps a group of folks who want to enter the country by running or swimming. A gun goes off, then five more shots. Carl asks, " Is this some kind of Eco Challenge?" Well, not really....
Again, the movies are great fun, with just enough cynicism thrown in, kind of an adult version of Family Guy, without Stewie running around.
After the movies, you can touch the radio and get the Top Ten Running songs. Among them--Outkast's "Bombs over Baghdad" and Europe, the king of big hair bands song, "The Final Countdown". Some real gems on the list, check it out, I don't want to take all of the surprises! Their tip with " Bombs over Baghdad" is to keep pace with the beat and run a three minute mile! Brilliant! ( My twenty-two year old metal head son, Adam, would approve of these songs as well.)
Touch a book and yes, you got it, Carl & Karl give you their Top 10 Running Books-yes, Once a Runner is there, and yes, Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner is there, but so is Leo Tolstoy and Cormac McCarthy!
Site gets the Impossible: Five Shoes!
The site is planning a blog, but the Sklar brothers, in their runnings#1 fans roles of Carl & Karl Underwood get five shoes out of five shoes for creativity, five shoes out of five shoes for making us laugh at ourselves by knowing our culture and five shoes out of five shoes for just doing something different really, really well.
Kudos to Dave Larson for finding a creative company that got it and letting them have some fun. Kudos to Great Society (Scott Cowan is the ring leader there), who got their talent and took the creative ride with Karl and Carl to the nth degree. Kudos to Randy and Jason Sklar, who obviously had a lot of fun portraying running's number one fans. Jimmy Buffet, the musical observer of all things Margaritaville, once noted, " Don't try to describe a Kiss concert if you have never seen one." Great Society and their team remembered that, as the site is real, honest and true to the sport, just as a sports super fans would be.
Finally, kudos to the Brooks Running company for remembering, at the end of the day, they make, and then sell running shoes. And reminding us, that as we have institutionalized running, making it near a religion for some, we need to poke fun at the serious stuff once in awhile to remember why we started running all those years or days ago.
So, get in a run, then find a beverage, and check out www.runningsuperfans.com!
( I have included the Brooks release, as they are doing some fun stuff at their Boston Expo booth on April 17. If you can get to the Expo, do not miss it!)
Brooks® Launches Irreverent Campaign to Spread Joy of Running
The Sklar Brothers Bring Humor to Their Roles as Running’s #1 Superfans
Bothell, WA– Leading running company Brooks Sports, Inc. (www.brooksrunning.com) announced today the launch of its Running Superfans brand campaign, which features comedians Randy and Jason Sklar as Carl and Karl Underwood in a series of humorous print and online executions, as well as video shorts. The Underwoods have a single-minded obsession with running; they are running’s #1 superfans.
With the help of the Sklar brothers, Brooks will unveil the Running Superfans campaign in conjunction with the 113th Boston Marathon. On Friday, April 17, the company will transform a portion of its Boston Marathon expo space into a running revivalist tent—complete with a spirited organ-accompanied choir—to revere running, showcase the video shorts, and give runners an opportunity to meet the Underwoods. The show will play nearly every hour throughout the expo.
“The Running Superfans concept is a metaphor for Brooks’ commitment to running and supporting runners of all types. Running is the sole focus of the company, and Brooks considers itself the biggest fan of the sport,” said Dave Larson, Vice President of Marketing for Brooks. “We think all runners will identify with the Running Superfans characters not only because they are passionate about running, but also because they interpret the world around them through the lens of running.”
As stand-up comedians and twin brothers, Randy and Jason Sklar have made countless guest appearances on well known TV shows, have a popular stand-up special on Comedy Central, and are known for their critically acclaimed ESPN Classic comedy and sports series entitled “Cheap Seats.” As Carl and Karl Underwood in Brooks’ Running Superfans campaign, they are walking Wikipedia entries of running trivia; their mission is to share their love of running with the world because every person they meet is a potential runner in need of only a little inspiration.
The Running Superfans campaign includes eight video shorts with humorous storylines such as bribing a motorcycle cop, opening up a free nipple-taping stand, and foisting running-inspired fashion designs on office workers. The videos are posted on the interactive campaign microsite at www.runningsuperfans.com.
In addition, there are five print executions, which will begin appearing in the May issues of Runner’s World, Running Times,Women’s Running and the Running Network, among others. In one print execution, the Underwoods complete their full-scale sculpture of their favorite runner, Brian Sell, out of 14 different types of pasta; in another execution, the brothers camp out in front of a specialty running store in anticipation of the launch of the Trance™ 9.
The company’s tagline, Run Happy®, is represented throughout the brand campaign. Run Happy embodies the emotional core of running, the part of the running experience that lights up the pleasure centers of the brain. Run Happy is a celebration of the special spirit that makes running the most addictive sport the world has ever known—one that is easily recognizable to every runner whether young or old, fast or slow, male or female, master or newbie.
The Running Superfans campaign was created by the Great Society (http://www.greatsociety.com/), a Portland, Oregon-based experiential marketing company that provides a range of services for its clients, including brand consulting, graphic design, and advertising.
For more information about the Brooks Running Superfans campaign, please visit www.runningsuperfans.com.
Brooks Sports, Inc. is a leading running company that designs and markets a line of performance footwear, apparel, and accessories in more than 40 countries worldwide. A subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., Brooks was founded in 1914 and is headquartered in Bothell, Wash., near Seattle. The company’s mission is to inspire everyone to run and be active by creating innovative gear that keeps them running longer, farther, and faster. Visit www.brooksrunning.com for more information.