Posted by Tom Collins on January 16, 2013 at 18:00:16:
Playoff games come and go, but Vince Lombardi is legendary and iconic.
The Green Bay Packers won't be in the Super Bowl, but the Lombardi Trophy will.
Aaron Rodgers is the face of the franchise today, but Lombardi will be the face of it forever. The image of Lombardi dressed in a camel coat, hat and glasses while barking aphorisms about duty, discipline and dignity in the locker room and along the sidelines is instantly recognizable.
So it's no surprise that commercial entities are eager to associate with the Lombardi brand.
"It's a very lucrative revenue stream," said Pete Enfield, president of Luminary Group, an intellectual property rights management company that helps "protect and monetize" the Lombardi legacy for its heirs.
"It's not an insignificant amount of money," said Enfield.
The estate gets hundreds of requests to use Lombardi's name or image every year, but Lombardi's children, Vince Jr. and Susan, are "very selective about what they do," said Enfield.
They did, however, agree to let WDJT-TV (Channel 58) license the Lombardi image for a series of ads promoting the station's telecast of CBS' coverage of the Super Bowl on Feb. 3. They "felt comfortable with the message being portrayed," Enfield said.
In the spots, Lombardi is played by Lee E. Ernst, who portrayed him in the Milwaukee Repertory Theater production of "Lombardi." The play by Eric Simonson was adapted from David Maraniss' book "When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi."
WDJT has a reputation for creating clever promos, including the "Just Ten Minutes" campaign, and the Lombardi spots, which were conceived, written and produced in-house.
In the promo, Ernst spits out the dialogue in Lombardi's familiar cadence: "I've seen some good teams and I've seen some great teams. And you may ask me what is the difference between the two? The answer is commitment. The will to succeed. Taking pride in what you do. A commitment to yourself, your teammates and everyone who is watching. Every day. Every night. Working together for a common goal."
A second ad will start airing during the AFC championship game Sunday, and a third will appear during the Super Bowl.
Ernst said that while he is the same height as Lombardi, the coach was heavier, so he wore two coats while filming to look stocky. And Ernst "borrowed some costumes" for the spot from the Rep that he wore while performing the play.
"We went through a boatload of hats trying to get the right one, and we went through numerous pairs of glasses," said Ernst.
And he still "had the teeth we had made for the role."
Ernst said that when we imagine the sound of Lombardi's voice, it's for "screaming his lines. But he had purr to his voice."
"And if there is one key I try to keep in mind, I think he was a big-hearted man," said Ernst. "Lombardi was not a perfect person and he was rough on his kids and players, but it all came from a deeply sensitive place, I think."
Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" has struck a chord with audiences because of its portrait of governance in a crisis. And while Lombardi faced less substantial issues, it's tempting to see his decisive nature as being in the same mold.
"Yeah, I can see that," said Ernst, noting that many successful people have been influenced by Lombardi. "He truly did inspire people in a tremendous way."
Stretching the analogy, Enfield sees a comparison with Lincoln in Lombardi's "opening the door to full integration of the team" and in "the impact that had on the league."
WDJT had more modest intentions.
Because CBS is an AFC network, WDJT airs just two Packers games a season. The station's owner, Weigel Broadcasting, also airs Spanish-language preseason games on its digital Telemundo affiliate WYTU-LD (Channel 63.1).
WDJT had "been talking about what to do with the Super Bowl" for almost a year, "trying to find the right idea," said promotion manager Dale Palecek, describing the development of the Lombardi spot.
Ideally, the Packers would be playing in the game as they did in 2011, when Fox affiliate WITI-TV (Channel 6) carried it.
But even though they're not, the Super Bowl remains the most-watched program every year and allows for high-visibility branding of a local station's programming and news identity.
WDJT news director Genie Garner called it "a great opportunity" to "earn more viewers and eyes on our product." She called the Lombardi campaign "ingenious. It's like nothing I've seen before, and I'm excited about what I believe it will do for us."
WDJT also gets local advertising spots to sell - "Not enough," said WDJT vice president and general manager Jim Hall - during the networks' interminable pregame programming and during the game.
"Sales have gone pretty well," Hall said. There were "a few spots left" last week, but he anticipates "being 100% sold."
With the Packers not in the Super Bowl, Garner was denied experiencing the pursuit of perfection Lombardi personifies.
Garner joined the station in August, and this is her first season organizing news coverage of the team.
She has not been to Lambeau Field yet, but she did go to the Pro Bowl when she worked at KITV-TV in Honolulu.
She said Packermania is "initially a little shocking, but now I guess I can call myself a cheesehead."
But as for covering a Packers Super Bowl, well, there's always next year.
|| so says the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel yesterday via jsonline.com || On TV/Radio
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