SAN FRANCISCO -- What do sports wiz Bo Jackson and parasitic disease expert C.C. Wang have in common?
They both can't play hockey.
Jackson and Yang have become media darlings this summer with their feeble on-ice efforts. Hockey great Wayne Gretzky makes light of Jackson's attempts in a widely-acclaimed NIKE television advertisement while Wang dons skates and goalie pads in one of a series of unique ads for the University of California-San Francisco.
The UCSF campaign, consisting of three 30-second television spots and four bus stop ads, was designed by the innovative San Francisco firm of Goodby, Berlin & Silverstein, who last year put together award-winning campaigns for the NBA's Golden State Warriors and the San Francisco Examiner.
'We felt we had to do something,' said Michela Reichman, UCSF's assistant chancellor-communications. 'People just don't know what we are about. They think of us (UCSF) as just a medical center and get us confused with USF (the University of San Francisco) and SF State (San Francisco State).
'We were sitting around and our chancellor (Julius R. Krevans) happened to say: 'If we had a football team like the other campuses, people would know more about us.' That got us thinking.'
The result is UCSF's -- '125 Years And Still No Sports' campaign featuring some of university's brightest minds in very unacademic situations.
'There was a misconception that we are arrogant because we are academics,' Reichman said. 'We wanted to take people from our various schools and show them in a human light through sports.'
Take the Wang spot, for example, that aired Thursday morning.
Wang, dressed in a goalie's uniform, tries valiantly to stop an unidentified player's shots on goal. The puck hits Wang in the head and he goes sprawling, trying unsuccessfully to stop another shot.
Menwhile in the background a voice says: 'It's been suggested that you'd probably know more about us if we had sports teams. Take Dr. C.C. Wang for example. He has fought parasitic disease all over the world, saving millions in Africa from a dreaded plague called River Blindness.
If we had a sports team made up of our remarkable people you might know more about us --well, probably not.'
'UCSF is a graduate school and medical center, but it's still a UC campus,' said Tod Rathbone, an GB&S executive handling the UCSF account. 'But no one has an idea of what they do because they don't have any sports teams, the kind of stuff the average guy might know about. Like UCLA or Berkeley.
'We wanted to show what a sports team would be like if they used their students and faculty.'
Another ad, featuring Dr. Nelson Artigua, the head of the UCSF School of Dentistry Clinic and a leader among health professionals working with the poor, will be aired in the fall.
'The football ad shows Dr. Artigua on the field in Cal-Berkeley's football stadium,' Rathbone said. 'He'll be going out for patterns and getting hit in the head and the shoulder. The final shot will show him going way out, then show the ball in the air, then back to Artigua, who will run into the goalpost and the ball will fall to the ground nearby.'
The third, and final, television ad features Carol Viele, a UCSF nurse who helps cancer victims and their families. In it, Viele will be playing tennis and not able to return the blistering serves of her opponent. All the while the camera will focus on the scoreboard with the set scores increasing while Veile's stays at love.
The bus stop ads will feature Dr. Herbert Boyer, one of the father's of gene-splicing; Dr. Leonard Kaban, a surgeon who repairs facial deformities of youngsters; Dr. Nancy Archer, head of the liver transplant program; and Dr. Charles Wilson, one of the nation's foremost brain surgeons.
'We picked these people based on their accomplishments,' Rathbone said. 'You have to give them credit, they were good sports. When you are describing to them what you want to do, it's intimidating. But they were not afraid to laugh at themselves.'
The ads are also unique in that they did not cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
'We were fortunate that Goodby, Berlin and Silverstein did the campaign for free, as did the company that shot the ad and the outdoor sign company,' Reichman said. 'No public funds were used for the campaign. The little money that was needed came from private donations and the Chancellor's fund.'