Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Why Nationwide Loves Its Dead-Kid Ad

FunbagTime for your weekly edition of the Deadspin Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag.

Time for your weekly edition of the Deadspin Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. Today, we're covering Gronk, warring with Canada, caveman masturbation, and more.


Your letters:


What is the morning after like at the ad agency that created the dead-kid commercial for Nationwide? Are they thrilled that it's the most talked-about commercial of the Super Bowl or worried about getting fired?

I promise you that they are ECSTATIC about the dead-kid ad. They probably got detailed charts from a research firm (the charts cost $500,000 apiece) tracking the ad's Twitter mentions and Disruptability Indices, and then they held a candlelit circle-jerk around them. If you work in #brandland, it is very, very, very easy to delude yourself into becoming a brand champion and seeing everything through Skittles-colored lenses.

I once worked at the ad agency that created the "Wanta Fanta" jingle for Fanta soda, as sung by the Fantanas, a fake girl-group assembled specifically to sing about Fanta. (If you don't remember the jingle, I will spare you the link.) Anyway, at the end of the year, we had a big internal meeting, and the CEO stepped up and announced the best campaign of the year, and she was really working the audience up into a lather. By the time she cried out, "They asked America if they wanted a Fanta, and America responded!" people were clapping and cheering all over the auditorium like it was a Sunday tent revival.

And that jingle was ANGUISH. No one outside that building liked those ads. But that didn't matter, because people paid attention to them, and that was victory enough. Most people fast-forward ads or ignore them, and so anytime people give your ad the time of day, you treat it like you made the fucking Godfather. You've achieved the kind of perverted relevance that you promised the client to begin with.

On a certain level, it's easy to see why people get sucked into it. If your entire livelihood depends on people paying attention to a fucking Fanta jingle, well, then, you're gonna care more about Fanta than anyone else has ever dared to care about Fanta. You're gonna see Fanta in your dreams. Fanta will become your second child. You'll go insane and start singing lullabies to Fanta cans at night. When careers are at stake, you'd be amazed at how much people can invest in completely idiotic things.



So Katy Perry falls 40 feet tragically to her death at halftime, on live TV. in front of 100 million people. Kills four bystanders, too. What does the NFL do? Figure it takes a good hour to remove the bodies. Does the game end in a 14-14 tie? Or does Goodell say a word, and the games must go on?


As always, the game goes on. During the Super Bowl, NBC gleefully ignored the Doug Baldwin poopdown AND Julian Edelman's apparent concussion. They can sweep anything under the rug if they try hard enough. They would wheel poor Katy Perry out of the stadium on a stretcher, ignore the bystanders who got killed, and have Michele Tafoya chime in during the third quarter with an "update" on Katy's condition even though she's actually DOA at the hospital. That's what would happen. And then they could announce Perry's death 10 minutes after the formal presentation of the Lombardi Trophy. (Which apparently has its own music now—the NFL wants to treat that dopey little trophy like it's the Stanley Cup when it's SO not the Stanley Cup. I bet they bust out white gloves for it next year.)

By the way, I still would have been scared shitless if I had been her. Given the NFL's safety record, I wouldn't trust them to strap me to a platform the size of a postcard and send me 40 feet in the air. I'd want some of those Pepsi balloons underneath to cushion my fall.



What happens to the Canadian teams (the seven NHL teams, the Raptors, and the Blue Jays) if there's a war between us and Canada?


They still let warring nations compete against each other in the Olympics, so I don't think anything would change. For you see, sports are our SHELTER. They are the safe haven from which we can retreat from the ugliness of world geopolitics and delight in the spectacle of athletic compet ... OH GOD I JUST BARFED ON MY SHOES. Anyway, I would fully expect the Blue Jays to start a #sticktobaseball hashtag to keep gate receipts from falling.

If anything, hockey would instantly become appointment viewing. Native Canadian players might get extra goonish when an American player skates by. TAKE THAT, EH! I'd be riveted. It never hurts to add a good ol' fashioned dash of extreme nationalism to any sporting contest. I know you'll play twice as hard if your opponent was responsible for the bombing death of your wife and children.



Assume everyone on the planet dies, and you are left alone with, theoretically, an ability to go anywhere you want so long as you can figure it out. What are the 10 bucket-list things you do? Go to a secure government facility and check out some nuclear weapons? Go to the airport and start driving airplanes around the tarmac? Check out Papa John's ridiculous crib in Kentucky that has a moat around it? Sleep in the Lincoln Bedroom?


I assume I have an appropriate amount of time to grieve for my family and for humanity in general, right? It's not like I would immediately be like, "Oh, boy! Now I can check out the pyramids!" That wouldn't be part of my initial thought process. I would need at least a year to sit shiva and cry hot tears for the loss of my wife, children, parents, brother, sister, nephews, nieces, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, and colleagues, plus Josh Homme. Once that's out of the way, I would hop in my futuremobile and do the following:

* Go to Disneyworld and ride Space Mountain a thousand times (no line!).

* Pillage every last scrap of food at the Tokyo fish market.

* Take a shit on a Putin's desk.

* Sit in the Oval Office chair.

* Play 18 at Augusta.

* Break into George Clooney's house at Lake Como and go through his homemade-sex-video collection.


* Rob the Louvre.

* Steal Paul Allen's yacht and use it for my own purposes.

* Smoke weed in the Sistine Chapel.

* Break into that one fancy nightclub that turned me away. WHO'S ON THE LIST NOW, JACQUES?!


In general, I would touch everything you aren't allowed to touch, go everywhere that only rich people are allowed to go, and I do any kind of touristy thing that is usually ruined by crowds or lines. A few years ago, I went to the top of the Empire State Building with my kids. Somehow, we caught it on an off-peak day, so it was only a 10-minute wait or so up to the roof. And as we made our way up to the top, I saw all the cordoned-off areas to accommodate the lines. There must have been 10 different waiting areas, like you were being digested through a cow's stomach. It was traumatizing to see. So I would take full advantage of the freedom afforded by the eradication of the rest of the human race. It's what we all wish for on a regular basis, anyway.


What is the most prestigious thing to have named after you? I say …

1. Mountain

2. Element

3. State/province

4. University

What about a continent? Amerigo Vespucci has TWO continents named after him, even though, by many accounts, he was a GLORY BOY explorer who piggybacked off the success of others. The man's name adorns an entire HEMISPHERE and will likely do so for as long as humanity exists. Now that's quite a feat. I would take that honor. My list would go:

1. Continent

2. Planet (but in our solar system … not the bullshit where you buy naming rights to one that's a zillion light-years away)


3. Nation

4. City

5. NFL stadium

6. Significant body of water

7. Highly popular sandwich

8. Lifetime Achievement Award at the Oscars. I like the idea of my life being the benchmark for other people's lives.


9. Popular love song

10. Ivy League school

11. Pleasurable sexual position


I just pulled off a perfect string of cheese off my string cheese; made it all the way down, didn't widen, shrink, or flatten out. Fuckin' perfect.


That's good work, Lou.


I was watching the news, and they had on a family from Buffalo who was trapped in a Walmart. It sounds like the best possible place to get trapped during a snowstorm. How long do you think you could last in a Walmart?


So I'm free to loot the store? And can I assume this Walmart is in the state that allows Walmart to sell beer (Maryland, where I live, does not)? And is Jennifer Connelly with me? That would be a great first day. I'd eat all the cheese balls, guzzle shitloads of beer, shoot guns at stuffed animals, play BMX basketball, set up a hammock, wear factory-blemished NFL gear, and play roller hockey in the aisles. With running water and electricity, you could conceivably live inside the Walmart for a year, I guess.

But eventually, I would go mad. The fluorescent lights would warp my mind. Eating non-perishable processed food day after day after day would block up my colon. All the toxins from the cheap Hello Kitty discount-toy bins would give me brain lesions. It takes nothing for me to get cabin fever. If I'm stuck at the house all weekend with the children and I don't leave, I turn into Jack Torrance by Sunday morning. I wouldn't do well as a Walmart Survivalist. Unless Jennifer Connelly was there. We could make our own world, she and I!



Do you think cavemen masturbated more than today's teenagers?

Probably not, because cavemen were probably occupied with seeking fire and trying to not get eaten. Not a lot of time in your day when you have to weave together a suspended palm hammock to keep tigers away from you. Also, cavemen were barbarians, so they probably committed sexual assault at will whenever they found themselves in the mood, victimizing nearby women, men, wild boars, etc. They were not good people. To be a prolific masturbator, you need time, isolation, an object of lust, and the good manners to not force yourself on people. Take it from me! Many of today's teenagers fill all of those criteria. They'd defeat Grog in a beatoff nine times out of 10.



Is there a rich person out there bold enough to purchase a fighter jet for personal use? Has it already been done? It's probably the most baller thing somebody could buy. I could see the Sultan of Brunei showing up to some trust-funded rave at Yacht Week and leaving with three women in an F-18.


Seahawks owner Paul Allen bought a refurbished Soviet fighter jet. And apparently, for a cool $7 million, you will soon be able purchase the Saker S-1, a military-style jet designed for personal use. There's definitely a market for this sort of thing among billionaire playboys who have run out of ideas for how to waste money.

FAA regulations prevent you from owning a fully armed fighter jet. (I'm surprised the lobbyists at BIG MISSILE haven't protested this—it just goes to show you that weapons enthusiasts won't make trouble so long as they have insanely lucrative private contracts with the government already in place.) However, I'm pretty sure that outside the U.S. there are rich people who own entire FLEETS of fighter jets, tanks, and other assorted weaponry. Shit, the Russian Army is basically Putin's personal playset. He's definitely gotten shitfaced and taken a MiG out for some late-night "joybombing." If you can imagine it, rich people have purchased it.





Is anyone living life better right now than Gronk? Even before the guy won the Super Bowl, he seemed like the happiest person in the world. He lives in a house that has a nickname with his two friends and teammates, owns a party bus, undoubtedly sleeps with beautiful women, parties, and does ridiculous things all the time, and somehow balances all that with work enough that he is arguably the best player at his position.


I think Gronk lives the life that Johnny Manziel is DYING to live, only JFF's not good enough to get away with it. Gronk's life is the white-boy wet dream. I know this because I spent the first two decades of my life praying that I would be a superstar athlete who worked hard but still had the time and the metabolism to get drunk and score all the tail I possibly could. Why play sports otherwise? For the thrill of competition? BORING. It's nice to know that even with all the crazy training regimens and micro-coaching, you can still succeed in the pros AND run a Bangbus subsidiary. It's the same reason I was glad that Shaq managed to win the 2006 NBA title despite being drunk for eight straight months.

By the way, I bet Gronk is playing dumb half the time. He probably knows the name of the book is To Kill a Mockingbird—he just can't endanger the Gronk #brand by acknowledging it. I bet that in private, he studies 16th-century Welsh poetry. What if he doesn't even drink? MY GOD IT'S ALL LIES.



In what situation is it more fun to be sober than to be drunk? It sounds pretty easy to answer, but keep in mind the 'Well, at least you're drunk' factor, and the question gets really tough. Even if you got arrested or trapped on an island, you're at least drunk, so that makes it a little bit fun.


I have been arrested while drunk, and I assure you that you do NOT want to be drunk at that particular moment. I remember sitting at the police station, dying to sober up. I've never wanted to be sober so badly. I didn't have a drink for eight months after that. (Partially due to a court mandate, but still!)

Anyway, as you get older, there are times when you would definitely prefer to be fully lucid: when you're driving, when you're witnessing the birth of a child, etc. But of course, that's not what you're asking. You're asking when it's straight-up more FUN to be sober instead of drunk for something, and I would say that the obvious answer is sex. If I'm sober in bed, I don't have to worry about whiskey dick AND I know I'll remember everything that happens, which is important for future mental use! I think I'd rather be sober for all that. (NOTE: This does not factor in Sex While High, which is a whole other thing.)


Also, pretty much any vigorous sporting activity is better when you're sober (golf does NOT count). You would almost certainly have more fun playing basketball while sober, because you'll play better and you won't need to pause the game to go throw up in the bushes. That seems advantageous. Basketball, white water rafting, skydiving: All of that is better when you're sober. I have been skydiving …

... and I'm glad I wasn't drunk for that.


Would you rather be in jail for five years or homeless for five years? We live in Portland, so it is pretty average weather year-round; one week a year it's cold, one week a year it's hot, but other than that, fairly average. I'm thinking jail, as you have a place to sleep and three squares a day, plus the ability to stay relatively clean. However, once the proposition changes to "prison," I'll take the hobo route.


As always, there's a reason that people spend MILLIONS in legal fees to avoid doing any time in an American prison. You don't want to go there. Being homeless is miserable and often dangerous, but at least you're free. You can watch the sun rise. You can smell fresh grass. You can steal liquor. Those are necessary components of the human condition. I'd take being homeless without hesitation. And then I'd probably regret it after my second night sleeping on a bed of flattened cardboard boxes outside a Walmart.


If you had a full week to practice with your team, could you successfully get through an NFL game as the holder? No other duties (you're not also the backup QB or punter or anything like real holders)—all you'd have to do is hold for PATs and FGs. The actual task doesn't seem that hard if you practice it, right?


The old cliché is that nothing can prepare you for live gameplay, and it's true. You could practice for a full week and get your technique down, but then you gotta do it in front of 70,000 screaming nutjobs. You'd fumble EVERY snap. Every last one. You would fumble the snap, and then you would get pummeled, and then your entire nervous system would collapse. They'd have to carry you off the field because your body was paralyzed with angst. That is what would happen.

Email of the week! It's a GREAT MOMENT IN POOP HISTORY.


I am a Hollywood assistant, which basically means I am an indentured servant. I've been doing this for around seven years, because I want to be a screenwriter. Since there is no way to break into Hollywood and I need a steady job, I choose to do virtually one of the worst jobs on the planet in hopes that one day someone will let me re-write some dialogue for The Expendables 5 or something.

That being said, part of my job is waiting for service appointments to arrive at my boss's house between the hours of such-and-such that always arrive in the fifth hour of a four-hour window. While most people would find this to be a horrible part of their daily lives, I love it, because it means I can sit on my ass and avoid work for half the day. This morning was one of those occasions.

Let me preface this story by saying that the previous night, the lady and I downed a couple bottles of wine on our couch after work. I, being an idiot, decided that I needed to take this a step further and pour myself a whiskey right before bed. When I woke up, I immediately felt my hangover setting in, and decided that I'd try and salvage what's left of my body by flushing it out with a green smoothie from the juice bar next door.

As I headed over to my boss's place, I felt my stomach rumble. I had forgotten that said smoothie was made with mostly kale and other things that will make you shit your pants. As I entered my boss's house, I found to my surprise that it was completely empty— no furniture, no nothing. I had forgotten that he had been in the process of moving to a new place and must've finally cleared out the house. Immediately, I wondered if there was any TP left. I ran to the bathroom and saw an empty TP holder, but someone had conveniently left a roll of paper towels next to the toilet. Bingo. I sat down, did my business, and went about my morning Twitter scroll.

As I went to flush, I heard the empty clank of the handle hitting inside the tank. "The toilet is broken," I thought. Then something else occurred to me. Something way, way worse than a broken toilet. I turned on the faucet, which shot out a couple puffs of dry air: The water had been shut off. This toilet cannot flush.

In a panic, I cleaned up quickly with the paper towels and realized what was happening. At first, I decided to leave it there and just vow to never say anything ever again. But what if my boss swung by the house and found it? What if the new owners found it and killed the deal? Would I be that assistant who shat in his boss's house and left it there and now is that Hollywood story that no one believes except its true and now I'm a "certified personal trainer" like every other dumbass in L.A.? Facing insurmountable anxiety, I decided what needed to happen: I was going to have to extract this turd from the water.

I ran out to my car and popped the trunk, hoping to find a plastic bag. If you don't know this about assistants, our cars are full of useless shit that we've collected from our offices and our boss, and it just stays in our cars until we sell it or drive into a lake. I didn't have a plastic bag, but I took the following items: a cardboard box, a roll of plastic cling-wrap (the kind you wrap furniture in when you move), and a golf glove.

I ran back inside and decided that I was going to have to line the box with plastic wrap and then drop the turd inside. At this point, the water was not tainted. It's just a humble, coiled normal turd sitting just below the crystal clear surface. It looked solid enough for me to scoop out.

So, I opened the glove and quickly realized it was a lefty (I'm a righty), because it was a golf glove. I can't even unlock my apartment with my left hand. It presented a challenge, but I thought if I could just get under the turd and scoop it, then I would be okay. I took a deep breath, sunk my hand under the surface, cupped the turd, and slowly raised it out of the water like one of those baskets the Coast Guard uses to rescue people from the ocean.

Then, to my absolute horror, the turd started to slip from my hand. I extracted as much of it as I could, but realized I now had a bowl full of tainted, muddy water. This was somehow worse than leaving a turd inside. At least with the turd I could've hoped it would sink to the back of the bowl out of sight, but there is no way in hell I can leave a bowl full of chowder in the toilet. I was going to have to swap that water out in a house that has no running water.

I went back out to my car hoping to find a big Starbucks cup when I realized I had a case of water that I never brought into the office because I didn't feel like it. I brought the water inside and devised a plan to fill the tank with bottled water and try and get one flush. After a lengthy Google search to see if this would even work, I dumped about 12 bottles of water in the tank just to the fill line and closed my eyes. I hit the handle with and prayed. The tank emptied with a very uneventful, weak flush. I put the lid back on and popped the toilet seat to find clear, fresh water. The perfect crime.

The only problem was, I had a box on the floor lined with plastic sitting next to me that had my own turd sitting in it. In fear that it would leak, I decided to close the flaps of the box and wrap the entire thing in the plastic wrap to seal it. Once I was done, it looked like a hazmat team had come in and sterilized the box with four inches of plastic wrap.

What transpired next isn't very eventful, but driving your own shit in a box is about as close as I'll ever get to that scene at the end of Goodfellas where a coked-out Ray Liotta is looking out the window paranoid that he's being followed by a helicopter. Anyways, I ended up throwing it in a dumpster behind a grocery store. The worst part? The box was marked CAUTION: LIQUID. I hope to God some poor soul does not go dumpster-diving and open that box.


Drew Magary writes for Deadspin. He's also a correspondent for GQ. Follow him on Twitter @drewmagary and email him at You can also order Drew's book, Someone Could Get Hurt, through his homepage.


Image by Sam Woolley.

The Concourse is Deadspin's home for culture/food/whatever coverage. Follow us on Twitter.