Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Jim Stingl column
Feb 02, 2013 (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
The beer-fueled agony that Casey Lewis was feeling last year when the Packers lost in the playoffs went viral in a video, and now has her appearing in a Volkswagen Super Bowl commercial with other YouTube meltdown stars.
It's been a weird but wonderful year for the Wauwatosa woman since her sister aimed her cellphone camera at her as they drove home from Brewski's tavern after watching the Packers lose to the New York Giants last January.
The one-minute video shows Casey in her cheesehead cowboy hat and other Packer gear sobbing and blaming her sister Megan for making her wear sparkly nail polish that day and a Clay Matthews jersey (she normally wore an Aaron Rodgers one). Casey believed all this had jinxed her beloved Packers.
There's a good chance you've seen this "Sad Packer Fan" video. It has a little over 2 million views. For the record, Casey wasn't driving that day.
"It has just been surreal," Casey, 25, told me in an interview last week. "Believe it or not, I have had people trying to date me because of the video. I automatically write them off as weird because the video is embarrassing."
Last month, the Volkswagen ad agency tracked down Casey by electronic message.
"It was a Friday night, and she was like, 'Can you come to California next weekend to do a commercial ' " Casey said. "I think I said, 'Is this spam ' "
Casey and Megan were flown first-class to Los Angeles all expenses paid for a few days. Others members of the family tagged along.
The idea for the commercial is a clever one. People like Casey who have become familiar to us for being sad or mad in these ubiquitous online videos are brought together and cheered up by singing along with reggae star Jimmy Cliff to the bouncy Partridge Family theme song, "Come On, Get Happy."
They dance and frolic in a sunny but chilly meadow located an hour outside Los Angeles. Casey said the spot took at least four hours to shoot as they repeated it all 40 times or more. Dozens of extras join in the fun.
Casey, who had her own trailer on the set, wears the same cheesy hat from her video. She was provided a generic Packer-like green jacket for the shoot, but had to give it back at the end.
The commercial includes snippets of the original viral videos. There's crying Casey, of course. We also see Phil Wellman, a minor league manager who goes off on an umpire during a game and starts tossing the bases around. There's Cara Hartmann, who gets ridiculously emotional in an eHarmony video about how much she loves cats. There's Phil Davison, an Ohio politician who goes way over the top in a speech. We see a crazy guy who smashes his electric guitar and another who destroys a golf club, two mascots fighting, a girl who throws a tantrum at the supermarket and even an irritated llama.
All that rage and sadness seems to dissolve as they hold hands and join together in song. You never see a Volkswagen, but the suggestion is clear that if that brand can cheer up these nuts, it can work for anyone. Casey, by the way, drives a Buick, but used to have a VW Beetle.
"I had a really fun time hanging out with them, and even after we were done filming we went out to the bar and had a few drinks. It was really exciting. I absolutely love Phil Wellman, the guy who had a baseball meltdown. He's just the funniest guy I ever met," Casey said.
The ranting politician was surprisingly calm in person. Casey said she plans to stay in touch with Wellman and the cat lady, even though her original video was exposed as fake.
The Volkswagen commercial is already out there in a preview version and is expected to air during today's big game.
"I have seen it. It was on during 'American Idol' actually, and it's been on SportsCenter a few times," Casey said.
She was told not to disclose how much she was paid to be in the ad. "It was definitely worth missing four days of work for, I'll say that." She does debt collection over the phone. She also studies medical billing at MATC and works as an usher at Miller Park in summer, she said.
The Packers, of course, will be watching Super Bowl XLVII like the rest of us, but Casey isn't blaming herself or her sister for the playoff loss to the 49ers. She had on the exact right jersey and sparkle-free nail polish this time.
"And I didn't drink as much as last year, so no meltdowns."
Call Jim Stingl at (414) 224-2017 or email at email@example.com
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