As it turns out, the athletic department at the University of Nebraska was less than thrilled to have its football team compared with a Stephen King novel about a wrathful child cult.
Last week, W+K New York launched a series of 14 school-specific spots promoting Fox Sports’ college football coverage. These depictions included “Wolverine” for the University of Michigan,” “Flag” for University of Maryland” and “Blizzard” for Penn State University.
For University of Nebraska, W+K New York chose to reference the aforementioned Stephen King novel, which was subsequently adapted into a 1984 horror film. The spot opens on a seemingly endless corn field, as the voice over states, “When you’re lost in a cornfield, everything looks the same for miles…and miles…and miles” as a football player plows through rows of corn. “Until finally, you come upon a circle of empty ground,” the voiceover continues as University of Nebraska players form a circle and ominous music plays, “and for a second you feel relief, until you realize this is where the sacrifices are made.”
The implication did not sit well with the university’s athletic department, which requested Fox Sports no longer run the ad.
“It’s not really the direction we want the brand to go in,” senior associate athletic director for marketing and communications David Witty told Big Red Today.
He added that the school would be glad to collaborate on future promotional efforts. According to the publication, University of Nebraska’s athletic department provided the uniforms for the spot without knowledge of the ad’s content.
A graduate of the university informed us students of the school, and Nebraska natives, are particularly sensitive to such negative depictions. Fox Sports planned to run each of the 14 ads in a regional broadcast strategy but decided to pull the ad following Nebraska University’s request. The network declined to comment on the decision.