Last week Wednesday, August 1, ESPN launched the latest spots in the It's Not Crazy, It's Sports campaign. The commercials explored sports-themed funerals and burials. Academy Award-winning Director Errol Morris was commissioned for the project, which includes 15-, 30- and 60-second "trailers", as well as a short documentary about the phenomenon.
Funeral directors, tombstone makers and sports fans are among the subjects interviewed for the eight-minute documentary. Among those featured are NFDA members Chuck Kaczorowski of Kaczorowski Funeral Home in Baltimore, Md., and Roland Coston-Criswell of Coston Funeral Homes in Pittsburgh, Pa. The commercial and documentary also feature Memorial Cemetery and Aggie Field of Honor in College Station, Texas, and Woodlawn Memorials in Boston, Mass. Representatives from each share stories about real fans who requested to be interred through sports-themed memorials.
One story describes a Pittsburgh Steelers fan whose family, instead of laying him in a casket, laid his body out in a recliner with his favorite team displayed on a nearby television. Another tells the story of a Dallas Cowboys fan whose friends and family dressed in Cowboys attire at her memorial to celebrate her fandom. And then there is a NASCAR fan who finally took a ride around a track when a driver agreed to carry an urn of his ashes in the racecar.
"Fans don't just live and breathe sports. In many cases, they take their fandom to the grave," said Carol Kruse, senior vice president, marketing for ESPN. "The last wishes chronicled here are extraordinary expressions of fandom that prove that nothing is crazy within the context of sports."
The two pieces are well-done. ESPN could have easily turned the subject matter into a bad parody of funeral service. However, the sports network approached the topic with respect and the commerial and documentary speak eloquently about personalized and meaningful funerals.
ESPN's It's Not Crazy, It's Sports campaign launched in July of 2010 and is designed to be a conversation with fans about those things that make sports inspiring, entertaining and dramatic.
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