Mayor chews on Big Apple in Super Bowl commercial

Publicity: O'Malley hams it up for spots that will feature him and New York's Giuliani.

January 22, 2001|By Heather Dewar | Heather Dewar,SUN STAFF

Never mind that the film crew is from New York. (Actually, New Jersey.)

When a National Football League advertising honcho called City Hall on Thursday asking whether Mayor Martin O'Malley would be willing to appear with New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani in a series of tongue-in-cheek, "trash talkin'" Super Bowl promotional spots, the mayor and his staff thought it over "about two minutes," according to O'Malley spokesman Tony White.

"We've got to work this for all we can," said O'Malley of the national spotlight trained on Baltimore and its Ravens, who play the New York Giants on Sunday in the Super Bowl.

"Milk it," said White.

And milk it the mayor did, with a thick slice of ham on the side.

The Super Bowl hoopla is heaven-sent for a mayor trying to infuse his city with pride. And the national exposure can't help but boost his political fortunes.

O'Malley is making the most of the moment - and he's relishing it. He can rattle off a list of downtown landmarks spotlighted in Ravens purple.

Yesterday, the mayor led the NFL Film crew on a tour of the bronze statuary outside his City Hall office. The normally somber marble balcony overlooking the rotunda is a riot of purple, white and black. A bronze eagle is draped in a huge Ravens banner, its wings tipped with purple foam Ravens claws. A bust of the late mayor and Maryland governor Theodore R. McKeldin wears Raven-toned camouflage. And Thomas Gordon Hayes, the mayor from 1899 to 1903, has been temporarily renamed Thomas "Purple" Hayes.

While the cameras rolled, O'Malley donned a Ravens warm-up jacket and a two-tone purple polka-dot tie. He spent more than an hour talking up Baltimore and dissing the New York Giants, whose dirty little secret is that their home stadium is in New Jersey.

"I didn't know Rudy was the mayor of East Rutherford," O'Malley said - one of many one-liners that wasn't in the NFL Film crew's script.

The two mayors have never met - but, through the magic of film editing, they'll go head-to-head in commercials and "news spots," slated to be aired on CBS stations nationwide beginning Wednesday. Giuliani is scheduled to tape his half of the mock quarrel today.

O'Malley's act will be a tough one to follow. Under the lights, he smiled, sneered and snarled at his invisible rival. He glared with the intensity of a pumped-up linebacker.

He pointed his finger at the camera, pounded his fist in the air, flung his arms over his head like a referee signaling a touchdown.

He informed the nation that "The Star-Spangled Banner" is "a Baltimore song sung at the beginning of every New York Giants game."

In response to an imaginary "Big Apple" boast from Giuliani, he twirled a shiny apple in his hand and took a chomp out of it. It tasted so good, he took another bite.

"Am I having too much fun?" he asked the camera crew.

No, the crew members assured him, hiding grins.

Bob Stohrer, creative director for NFL Film and Giuliani's stand-in at yesterday's taping, was delighted at the result.

"He did an excellent job," Stohrer said. "He's got another career after he's through being mayor, if he wants it. He's obviously got some performance experience under his belt."

The Giuliani-O'Malley pairing is a match made in promotional heaven, said Amy Staurovsky, the NFL's manager of advertising and communications. "They both have such outgoing personalities, and they're fun."

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