Life Lessons from Jimmy Football

November 6, 2009


If you’ve watched any NFL this fall, you’ve met Bud Light’s enthusiastic pitchman, Jimmy Football. Paying homage to Billy Mays, Jimmy hawks tailgating fusion products such as the “Grooler®,” – a combination cooler and grill, and the “Foozie®“–a giant foam finger with a built-in koozie.  I think Jimmy can us teach a few lessons about our industry and ourselves, regardless of whether you’re in the market for a pack that converts your golden retriever into a condiment sherpa. But before we get too far, I should say that my name is Ben Matheson and I’m a new intern at Fast Horse.

Jimmy’s products show us how we love to remake the objects and environments that surround us.  We have a deeply ingrained desire to reinterpret, remix and generally hack the objects and ideas in our lives.  We do this to create objects and experiences that are greater than the sum of their individual parts.

We create our lives by the same mashup process.   For example, because I love cycling and brewing beer, I am planning a trip in 2010 to visit all of the breweries in Minnesota by bike.  I hope to make a career out of this someday.  I’ve spent time in Scandinavia and I enjoy cooking, so I was fortunate enough to spend three summers cooking Norwegian cod and meatballs at a Norwegian language camp.  At its core, cooking is a mashup process.  We are able to create delicious foods and rich experiences that improve upon their individual ingredients in isolation.  Ingredients are limited, but our recipe potential is infinite. Although now that I think about it, most of my food is based on combinations of bacon and fried onions.

Successful partnerships do not need to be complex, but they may require salted pork.  Malcolm Gladwell has said that “two mildly good stories put together sometimes equal one really good story.” I try to apply this idea to my work and life.  One of my all-time favorite combinations may have been the week in college when I rocked a mullet and wore wolf T-shirts to the gym.  No one messes with you when you’re looking that good.

As marketers and storytellers, our success depends on our ability to bring together communities, narratives and companies to create opportunities for powerful experiences. Great companies know that their products are not ends in themselves; instead, they are characters in individuals’  independently created experiences.  I think Jimmy Football would agree that much of the best advertising and PR helps us to engage our gears for imagination and co-creation.

I’m really excited about my latest combination: Fast Horse and me.  The ideas and people floating around here make for some incredible results and experiences.  I’m thrilled to tap into the creative energy here.  I think it could even top the mullet!