Monday, January 30, 2012

I’m Going to Disney World!

Professional sports and advertising have always been close bedfellows. From the ubiquitous Goodyear Blimp to corporate signage surrounding playing fields, it’s nearly impossible to escape the clutches of Madison Avenue during an afternoon at the ballpark.

The relationship between sports and advertising is especially evident every winter when the Super Bowl’s MVP happily declares “I’m Going to Disney World!” in a hastily assembled 30 second commercial.

The tradition first began in 1987 when representatives from Disney approached New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms one week prior to Super Bowl XXI and asked him to utter the phrase if his team won the game. Simms declined, but the reps persisted and on January 25, 1987 he rattled off the now legendary line following the Giants’ convincing 39-20 victory over the Denver Broncos.

“I didn’t think it would turn out to be what it is,” Simms now admits. “Everyone always asks, ‘how’d y’all do that?’ Well, when the game was over they turned the camera to me and I smiled and said ‘I’m going to Disney World.’ I couldn’t believe I was doing something like that on the football field. It’s fun to look back and know I was the first one to do it.”

The iconic phrase has been uttered by nearly every Super Bowl MVP since, with the possible exception of linebacker and murder suspect Ray Lewis, who was famously not asked where he was going when the Baltimore Ravens won the championship in 2001. Perhaps that’s because the phrase “I’m going to prison” isn’t quite as inspiring.