Knight turns up the juice with new ad

Saturday, March 3rd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

ATLANTA (AP) _ Bob Knight is turning sweet, at least for orange juice.

In a TV commercial that makes its debut Monday, the former Indiana basketball coach sheds his infamous temper after taking a few swallows of orange juice.

``The whole premise here is people acting like you'd never expect,'' said Dan Schafer, a spokesman for Coca-Cola's Minute Maid unit.

While the ex-coach is featured in just one of four new Minute Maid spots from the Leo Burnett agency of Chicago, the Knight ad is the most prominent.

Knight was fired last year for what the school said was repeated misconduct, including accusations that he choked a player during a practice.

Tapping a notorious figure can be a way for advertisers to get more attention, although the tactic doesn't always work. Monica Lewinsky, for example, had a short-lived run as a spokeswoman for the Jenny Craig weight-loss program.

``I don't think Minute Maid is going out on a limb,'' said pop culture expert Robert Thompson, director of Syracuse University's Center for the Study of Popular Television.

``Hallmark Cards is not going to get Bobby Knight,'' Thompson said, but the surly ex-coach might lend an edgy image to an otherwise humdrum product like orange juice.

Schafer said Knight lampoons his own persona in the ad, posing as a coach wearing very Indiana-ish team colors. Knight puts his arm around a ref and bends to tie a player's shoe to keep him from tripping.

``He's a very funny guy,'' said Dave Linne, senior vice president and creative director at Leo Burnett. Knight rewrote bits of the script, but he didn't mind a laugh at his own expense.

The former coach's fee was not disclosed. Besides the new ads, Knight is working as an NCAA basketball analyst for