City dwellers may have noticed an eye-catching set of ads around town featuring a Godzilla-sized version of 49ers quarterback Alex Smith — his legs straddle the Transamerica building — gazing over the Bay at, presumably, a double-covered receiver.
The billboards, which pitch Glacéau VitaminWater, urge onlookers to purchase said product, as "It works for Alex Smith."
It's rare that billboards featuring professional athletes inspire much thought, let alone deep analysis of the finer points of the English language. But this is not a normal ad. Smith, the No. 1 pick in the 2005 NFL draft, has been injured often, and played distressingly bad football when on the field. Last year he tossed only a pair of touchdowns (and four interceptions), registering a 57.2 quarterback rating. That mark was the second lowest in the league; demonstrating just what life holds these days for Niners fans, the worst rating belonged to Smith's backup, Trent Dilfer.
Finally, Smith and his coach Mike Nolan engaged in a very public media bitchfest in which the QB claimed his coach was out to "undermine" him. Not long thereafter, third-string slinger Shaun Hill was ominously rewarded with a multimillion-dollar contract, and even J.T. O'Sullivan — alma mater: UC Davis — is supposedly in the mix for the 2008 starting QB job.
So, in short, what exactly do the Glacéau folks mean when they say "it works for Alex Smith"?
"People who drink VitaminWater know it works," replied Rohan Oza, the company's senior vice president of marketing. "Each of the 15 different VitaminWater varieties has a unique combination of nutrients to deliver a specific benefit to get you through your day."
Uh, glad you could clear that up. And why choose Smith in the first place?
"Alex has been a fan of VitaminWater for quite some time — and he incorporates VitaminWater into his daily lifestyle on and off the field — so it made perfect sense to establish a partnership with Alex," Oza explained.
Well, fair enough. But how about an even better marketing slogan: "Glacéau: It works for Alex Smith ... without it, he wouldn't even beat out Trent Dilfer."