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May 07, 2001
Sony's Basketball
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May 07, 2001

Spot Check

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Sony's Basketball

In an ad designed to show the multimedia power of Sony's VAIO computers, a high school hoopster from Chugiak, Alaska, records his games on digital video and mails the footage to Mike Krzyzewski at Duke.

Although the spirit of the heart-tugging spot rang true to Krzyzewski—who says he often gets unsolicited videos from high schoolers in remote spots—the player in the ad, identified as Joe Senungutuk, is fictional. Senungutuk is played by Branden Goulet, 18, a Chugiak High guard who was chosen through auditions at the school and who has no plans to play college ball. The ad was shot in Hope, Alaska (pop. 200), which was picked for its small-town feel. To enhance its rustic charm, producers dumped 42 truckloads of fake snow on Hope's Main Street, scratched paint off a newly painted building and brought in an old Jeep with moose antlers on its roof. "We wanted a kid and a place that would be on the fringe of consideration," says John Doyle, executive creative director at Young & Rubicam Advertising, which produced the spot. "We were trying to speak to the far-flung hopes of kids across the country who are off the beaten track."

Given Duke's title run, Sony's timing was fortuitous. Originally, the ad was to debut in late spring, but once the Blue Devils reached the Final Four, Y&R accelerated production and got the spot on air right before the Duke-Arizona tip-off. A bonus: The Blue Devils' Carlos Boozer, a Juneau native, had a double double (12 points, 12 rebounds) in the game.