How Ovechkin Joined Eastern Motors
I mentioned this on my chat, but Alex Ovechkin's Eastern Motors spot has done gangbusters traffic in its two days of Internet existence. More than 24,000 views. The No. 3 most viewed autos and vehicles video of the day (No. 1 in Canada!). The 19th most viewed overall video in Canada! The gospel of "your job's your credit" has gone international. (Though Penguins fans evidently aren't impressed.)
Ovechkin, of course, marks Eastern's first foray into the world of professional hockey. And after having an all-NFL stable of athletes in recent years, the chain has also signed up Antawn Jamison in recent months. Expect to see his commercial soon. In my never-ending quest to give free publicity to car dealerships, here's an Ovechkin-related Q&A with Easterns founder Robert Bassam.
We're expanding beyond football and he's the best in the world.
Did you ever think you'd have a hockey guy?
No, but I also never thought Ovie would be up for it. The $120 million guy, best in the world? He was very, very enthused, very willing. It was amazing. It was a lot of fun. I don't know if you saw the pucks he put through the dry wall; that was the end of our stage, we have to redo it. I guess he missed, but he was doing what he does. Him and Cooley were playing around and the next thing I know they put a couple of pucks through the wall. They never came back. They stayed inside the drywall.
Did it cross your mind whether your audience or your customer base is into hockey?
Of course they are. We sell late model quality used vehicles. It's wide range. We've advertised at hockey games and in the playoffs before. We needed a spokesperson. I think Ovechkin is a world-class spokesperson.
Does he have his Easterns nickname?
It's not unique. We're working on one. It's Great 8. We are working on an animated version of his, something similar to the Russian Machine they have [at Caps games]. We've engaged the same company that does the animation for the Russian Machine to create a cartoon character, sort of a super hero character of him. He ended up being number 1, so well spoken, and number 2, a lot more friendly. I don't know if the other guys made him at ease, but he was extremely, extremely helpful.
Did he get a car?
Of course. He got a nice car. A very very nice car, top model quality vehicle.
Did you see how well the videos doing online? Are you surprised that people are so interested in it?
No. He's a world-class athlete. If you're a hockey fan--and a lot of people are--the Ovechkin name carries. There should be a lot more good videos coming, a lot more fun stuff coming.
When are you going to get a soccer player?
I turned down the entire D.C. United. Not really, but we absolutely could have done a deal directly with the team and we didn't do it. The demographics there are different. That one, locally, is definitely very different.
And what about the Nats?
We've had relationship with the Nationals. We've been in contact with them as far as advertising. We've loaned Zimmerman a car for a few weeks, but we never put them in our ads. They're so far behind, unfortunately. In this city, for the fans, the Redskins are way ahead, and personally, with the record the Wizards have had lately, I think hockey's moved ahead of the Wizards.
So when did you think about getting Ovechkin?
It started last year. We started pitching in September, we negotiated through October, delivered the car to him, and once the season got hot we wanted to get ready for the playoffs. He's the most popular athlete locally, he's a world-class athlete. He won every award there is, there was none left for anyone else. And his willingness was the most surprising thing, he wore that smile, shaved for us and everything. He looked great. He was injured, and he still did everything we asked him to do. He had a knot in the back of his heel, he had to wear slippers, but he did everything we asked him to do. Very cool dude.
You said he's the most popular athlete in D.C.?
I would say so. I mean, there's no question it's a Redskin town, but per athlete, pound for pound at Easterns, I think he's the most popular athlete we've had. He's definitely the one with the biggest contract.
March 10, 2009; 4:45 PM ET
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