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Rampage Star in TV Commercial

by Randy Snow

Originally posted on ArenaFan.com, Wednesday, May 7, 2003

In the fall of 2002, a television commercial began airing during Sunday NFL games; the commercial showed two guys in a Best Buy store watching football on the wide selection of televisions. Operatic music is playing in the background as they gaze longingly at all the screens. One of the men is finally overcome with euphoria and faints.

As I watched the quick flashes of the football action, I felt that there was something familiar about these two teams. They weren’t NFL teams and they didn’t look like college teams either. I finally realized that the footage was of the Grand Rapids Rampage and the Tampa Bay Storm of the Arena Football League. The slow motion footage showed the Rampage quarterback, Corey Pullig, dropping back to pass while being rushed by the Tampa Bay defense.

“It all started with an arrangement we had with a film company to provide videotape for us and, in return, they would be able to utilize it for this type of purpose,” said Robert Sack, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for the Rampage as well as the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League. The particular footage used in the Best Buy commercial was filmed in Grand Rapids on August 1, 1998 during the final game of the regular season. It was the Rampage’s first season in the Arena league.

“We had a need to have high quality footage for various promotional uses,” said Sack.

Tampa Bay beat Grand Rapids 55-44 that day. It was the team’s fifth straight loss and dropped the Rampage to 3-11 for the season. Tampa, on the other hand, finished the regular season 12-2, advanced to Arena Bowl XII, where they lost to Orlando, 62-31.

In the commercial footage, the Rampage are wearing their familiar red home jerseys, but their helmets are pewter, as they were during the 1998 and 1999 seasons. The team switched to black helmets in 2000, which they still wear today.

Sack never knew when or where the footage might be used, so it was a surprise when he saw the commercial for the first time. He had basically forgotten all about it. The film crew, who Sack recalls was from Los Angeles, took footage of the Griffins hockey team as well. Some of that footage appeared on a TV show the following year.

“It was virtually indistinguishable, but it was used in a 1999 sitcom. I can’t remember the name of the show, but I don’t think it’s on any more. Two guys were taking their daughters to a hockey game. There was only about two seconds of footage used,” Sack said. “You had to look real hard to see that it was the Griffins.”

This was the first time I can recall ever seeing the Arena Football League featured in any kind of national ad campaign. Hopefully, it won’t be the last.

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