Behind The Scenes

Steelers fans worldwide star in new Terrible Towels ad campaign

In October, Front Row reported on the thinking behind the “Terrible Towels” leg of the “It’s Not Crazy, It’s Sports” ESPN ad campaign.

The ad centers on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ fan tradition of taking their Terrible Towels wherever they travel — and providing photographic proof of their adventures with the beloved symbol.

ESPN launched a website that solicited fan submissions of their pictures and videos with the Terrible Towels.

The end result is seen in the eye-catching, globetrotting ad above, which debuted this month.

Kevin Kirksey, ESPN’s Senior Director, Brand Franchises, Marketing, updated Front Row on the campaign.

FR: How would you describe fan response to this campaign?

Kirksey: The reaction has been tremendous and overwhelmingly positive. It’s more proof that Steeler fans are a proud and vocal group. So I suppose their engagement shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the truth behind the commercial. They carry Terrible Towels around the world. They take pause at weddings, graduations and childbirths to snap off a photo, with the Terrible Towel as a centerpiece. Their fandom is one of the most well-documented networks in all of sports. So this idea helped stoke an already hot fire. It was fun to see them get into the idea.

FR: Do you have any plans for a sequel?

Kirksey: We have no plans to produce a sequel to this one, but we’ll definitely share more great stories with the “It’s not crazy, it’s sports” campaign. Hopefully they’re all as memorable as this one.

FR: How long will you maintain the site and accept submissions?

Kirksey: The quality of each photo, and the enormity of the collection, is very special. We’ll keep the site up through the NFL season, then reevaluate what to do with the content. We’ll work with the Steelers organization to make sure the content has a home.

FR: If you were included, where would you want to be filmed waving the flag?

Kirksey: Every inch of Earth (and a few feet in space) is already covered. So I suppose I’d want to be on a warm beach somewhere. Good place to have a towel!

FR: Any interesting stories or submissions that you’d want to highlight?

Kirksey: Overall, I remain surprised and thrilled by the participation from our men and women in uniform. It’s great to see them use the site and their fandom to say hello and “Here we go Steelers” from locations around the world.

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