NEWELL - All signs point to the Newell Memorial Field scoreboard being the unlikely star in Coca-Cola's Super Bowl Sunday commercial "Going All the Way," Hancock County officials said.
The 60-second commercial tells the story of Adrian, from all appearances a middle school football player, who recovers a fumble during a game and scores a surprise touchdown on his way to Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers.
In the commercial, seen by millions of TV viewers during the fourth quarter of the Feb. 2 Super Bowl, Adrian looks up after recovering the fumble (:20) and peers downfield to see the goal post and the scoreboard. The scoreboard is seen again as Adrian scores the touchdown (:26).
STAR ROLE — The scoreboard featured in the Coca-Cola Super Bowl commercial “Going All the Way,” which ranked in the Top 10 in a USA Today survey of Super Bowl commercials, bears a striking resemblance to the one recently removed from Newell Memorial Field. — Video frame capture via YouTube
The scoreboard in the commercial is painted green and has the name Lions on it - but in all other ways, including the Coca-Cola logo on the top left, is identical to the one removed from Newell Memorial Field in November 2013.
"Having been a player on that field and a part of the chain gang crew, I have viewed that Coca-Cola scoreboard for many years and was sad to see it taken down when the new (Oak Glen High School football) field was built," West Virginia Del. Randy Swartzmiller, D-Hancock, said in his weekly message to District 1 constituents.
"However, it was nice to know its final stand was viewed by millions of people. Even though only our community likely knew its background, I believe it generated some excitement. It was heartwarming to see a piece of our home received by such a large-scale audience," Swartzmiller said.
Hancock County Commissioner Dan Greathouse said "nine million people" told him that the Newell and Super Bowl scoreboards were one and the same.
"It is that scoreboard. They just put 'Lions' on it instead of '(Oak Glen) Golden Bears,'" Greathouse said.
Officials associated with the commercial's production said they could neither confirm nor deny the Newell provenance of the scoreboard.
Brad Taylor, information director for the Ashwaubenon School District in suburban Green Bay, Wis., said it was his understanding that the scoreboard came from Virginia or West Virginia. Ashwaubenon is where the commercial was filmed.
Taylor said the commercial ranked ninth in an online USA Today poll of readers who were asked to vote for their favorite Super Bowl commercials.
Dave Franzen of Fast Horse Inc., a Minneapolis-based marketing firm retained by Coca-Cola, said he spoke with three people "closely associated" with the spot's production who said the scoreboard had been "constructed from scratch."
A phone message left with the commercial's director, Jake Scott, in West Hollywood, Calif., was not returned. Scott is the son of famed movie director Ridley Scott, who directed the legendary Apple Macintosh "1984" spot that aired during Super Bowl XVIII.
Suspicions about the scoreboard's second life as a Super Bowl commercial prop were raised when officials involved with the demolition of Newell Memorial Field were contacted by a Milwaukee-based production company around Thanksgiving.
The company sent two men down from Wisconsin the day before Thanksgiving to retrieve the scoreboard, according to Rob Juszczak of Juszczak Development, who was hired by Hancock County commissioners to disassemble the stadium and sell the parts.
"We worked all day the day before Thanksgiving because they had to have it all redone by Dec. 3 for the production of that commercial," Juszczak told local media in December.
Jeff Cahill, a Dallas businessman who bought the stadium home bleachers to re-sell them on UsedBleachers.com, said at the time that the production company was going to repaint the blue scoreboard and use it in a Coca-Cola commercial.
"I guess they needed it pretty bad," Cahill said in December.
But the Super Bowl part of the story remained the subject of Facebook speculation until Super Bowl Sunday, when many local viewers became convinced that the scoreboard seen on "Going All the Way" was the same one that they remember from Oak Glen home football games.