Tattoos, Onesies and Brisket: Adland Super Fans Reveal Their Sports Rituals

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TBWA/Chiat/Day/ Los Angeles Brand Director Ebony McCauley, left, and her fellow University of Oklahoma grads are Sooner proud.
TBWA/Chiat/Day/ Los Angeles Brand Director Ebony McCauley, left, and her fellow University of Oklahoma grads are Sooner proud.  Credit: Courtesy Ebony McCauley

The advertising industry is full of interesting characters with big personalities, quirky fashion styles and incredibly creative minds, but you don't hear as much about its many sports super fans. Ad Age discovered just how far some of your peers will go for certain teams or leagues.

Adam Yarnevich, or "Brisket Bob," senior creative services designer, VML

Adam Yarnevich
Adam Yarnevich Credit: Courtesy of Sporting Video Board via YouTube

Mr. Yarnevich, better known by Sporting Kansas City fans as "Brisket Bob," has been amping up the crowd with a barbecue ritual since 2011 whenever the soccer team plays the Portland Timbers. It all started because the Timbers' mascot celebrates each goal by firing up a chainsaw and cutting a piece of wood for fans to see and touch, so in response, Mr. Yarnevich and some other fans decided to parody this with barbecue. Mr. Yarnevich said he even throws the slab of meat into the crowd sometimes. "It's definitely always memorable, and it's fun when fans startle me in public by yelling, 'BRISKET!'" he said.

MacKenzie Porter, senior planner, Edelman

Chicago Bears Super Bowl XX beer stein
Chicago Bears Super Bowl XX beer stein Credit: Courtesy Mackenzi Porter

Not only does Ms. Porter insist on drinking out of her dad's Super Bowl XX beer stein from 1986 when watching the Bears play (even if that means traveling with it), she must listen to the "Super Bowl Shuffle" before each game. Ms. Porter also recently started a tradition of wearing her Bears onesie pajamas to the last home game of the year, and she asked her friends to be her bridesmaids with Super Bowl Shuffle cards and customized Bears shirts.

Ebony McCauley, brand director, TBWA/Chiat/Day Los Angeles

Since 1996, Ms. McCauley and a group of her fellow University of Oklahoma graduates and super fans meet yearly to attend the school's football games or other sporting events. The group even has a special name: Girls of Summer. "We are a group of women who, when we first started, were an anomaly, but as the years have progressed, we are seeing younger generations of female sports fans attending," she said, adding that it makes the group "super proud."

Brent Choi, chief creative officer, J. Walter Thompson New York and Canada

What Brent Choi's tattoo looks like
What Brent Choi's tattoo looks like Credit: NFL Communications/LA Chargers

For the last four decades, Mr. Choi has been a dedicated Chargers fan, which he refers to jokingly as "a tortured 40 years." But despite the torture, Mr. Choi has a tattoo of the team logo running from his hip to upper thigh. "First, yes, it's the Chargers lightning bolt logo, but more importantly, the lightning bolt is an aspirational reminder of how I want to live my life: electric, dynamic, illuminating, creating energy, spontaneous, sometimes destructive, and un-ignorable when it strikes," he said.

Matt Ian, exec creative director, Droga5

Matt Ian
Matt Ian Credit: Courtesy Droga5

Mr. Ian is a huge Steelers fan. In fact, he's such a loyal Steelers fan that he believes the best thing he can do is "outwardly root for the Jets or something" since he appears to be bad luck for the Pittsburgh team. (Nobody can help the Jets win, he said, "so there's no harm there.") This past season, Mr. Ian stopped posting about the Steelers on social media and stopped wearing his Franco Harris jersey on game days, because every time he did, something bad happened. "I also got rid of DirecTV so I can't watch games at home on my jinxed TV anymore, because that's where I watched the AFC Championship, and as you know, something bad definitely happened there," he said.

Rob Thorsen, president, Big Spaceship

Rob Thorsen's son
Rob Thorsen's son Credit: Courtesy Rob Thorsen

Mr. Thorsen is an ultimate sports fan, but at the moment, not for a particular professional or college team. He's devoted to his 11-year-old son's Connecticut Junior Rangers Elite AAA Youth Hockey league. "Before he started a few years ago, I'd say I was as a big hockey fan as there is—I hadn't missed a Rangers game in years," he said. Now he spends 10 times as much time on hockey, but it's youth hockey. Mr. Thorsen and his son are on the road every weekend from September through March, and then for a second season for three months in spring. While he's stayed at plenty of Marriott Courtyards, Hilton Garden Inns and Hampton Inns, he said he's found "the Hilton chain of hotels tend to be the most accommodating to hockey dads packing light-beer-filled coolers and charcuterie from some of Brooklyn's finest delis."

Laura McWhorter, account manager, BBDO

Laura McWhorter
Laura McWhorter Credit: Courtesy Larua McWhorter

Ms. McWhorter, a diehard New England Patriots fan, decided she could no longer physically sit in front of a TV and watch the team play after its last loss in the Super Bowl. "I watched every major game via FaceTime with my mom's phone turned around facing the TV, so I didn't jinx them," she said. Her superstition must have paid off since the team took home the trophy after putting the game into a nail-biting, first-ever Super Bowl overtime.

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