Marks of distinction: Countdown spot features “Tattoo League”

Last week ESPN debuted a new campaign for Sunday NFL Countdown, featuring the tagline “Count On Countdown.”

The series of spots, created in collaboration with 72 and Sunny, showcases the different ways players and fans alike depend on ESPN’s three-hour weekly NFL pregame show. One of the 30-second ads focuses on Quin Kilgore’s Tattoo League (see the ad in the video above). The Omaha, Neb., group’s unique style of penalizing fantasy losers with an embarrassing tattoo was chronicled in Matthew Berry’s book “Fantasy Life” and received even more notoriety following a Countdown feature.

Front Row spoke with commissioner Kilgore about his league, now in its fifth year with 10 members, and shooting the spot in his house:

Has anyone joined your league after you appeared on Countdown?
Since the first year, four people had to quit and we had to replace them, but it’s been the same core group of friends from college since we started in 2010.

How did the idea come about?
After a long day driving from Nebraska and snowboarding in Colorado, elevation had hit us. We went to a bar, and this guy walks in, runs to our table and asks where we were from. When we said Nebraska, he immediately pulls down his pants and shows a Kansas Jayhawks logo tattooed on his butt. The next day we were talking about how ridiculous that was — we had all been playing fantasy football quietly on our own, so we decided to start a league and give a tattoo to the loser.

How was the filming of the spot?
We filmed the spot in early August at my house. We typically watch the games together in my basement, but it was too dark, so we had to bring the TVs, cords and boxes upstairs and stage it as if we were watching TV in my living room. The shooting took about 12 hours.

Any predictions on what this year’s tattoo will be?
I don’t know. The winner gets to choose, but it’s really the league collectively choosing the tattoo, depending on who loses. The loser gets to pick where in the body the tattoo will be, but that’s it. No one has tried to avoid it – we all recognize what we’re in the league for. We haven’t had a player lose twice yet.

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