Oct. 21, 2009
EVANSTON, Ill. -- When Gary Barnett took the Purple to Pasadena after the 1995 Big Ten Championship season, things turned purple all over the country including Wheaties boxes, food and drinks at restaurants, newspapers, magazines, cars, clocks and so much more. Even people were turning purple for the Wildcats. These painted fans at the games were the inspiration behind the 1996 Football TV commercial ad campaign featuring "The Purple Pride Guy", Eric Stonestreet, who painted himself purple from head-to-toe to film the wacky commercials around Evanston and Chicago. Since his days as the Purple Pride Guy, Stonestreet has guest starred in numerous TV shows including "Malcolm in the Middle," "ER," CSI" and "The Mentalist." This season Stonestreet is starring in ABC's new comedy "Modern Family" with Ed O'Neill ("Married with Children") and Julie Bowen ("Ed").
Click Here to Watch a 1996 NU Football commercial featuring the Purple Pride Guy and Darnell Autry!
With the early success of "Modern Family," Stonestreet has become a regular guest on talk shows, including an appearance on "The View" today that showed a clip of Stonestreet's early days as the Purple Pride Guy. When The View crew played the NU commercial, Stonestreet said it was his first acting gig and joked with the ladies about the grueling audition. Once ABC has posted the latest episode of The View, click here to watch the Purple Pride Guy.
Legendary running back Darnell Autry was also featured in the 1996 ad campaign before getting his big break into the NFL in 1997. After his playing days were behind him, Autry switched roles to devoted Wildcat fan. With his acting background and love for NU, Autry was the perfect choice for this year's Purplepalooza video campaign, which was created to encourage all fans to wear purple to the game against Penn State at 3:30 p.m. on October 31. Inspired by the Purple Pride Guy, Autry gladly accepted Coach Pat Fitzgerald's challenge to paint himself purple for the ESPN/ESPN2 game on Halloween.
"When we were playing together it was incredible to see the fans in the stands who painted themselves purple to cheer us on every game," Autry said. "Now that I'm a fan, Fitz challenged me to have that same purple pride for his teams, so of course I accepted the challenge."
To win the challenge, Fitzgerald needs all of NU's biggest fans to help by becoming a fan of the official Northwestern Athletics Facebook page. Autry and Fitzgerald have set a goal for Northwestern to reach 5,000 Facebook fans by October 30. If the goal is met, Autry will paint his body purple from head to toe like the Purple Pride Guy for the Wildcats' football game against Penn State on Oct. 31. After one week of this campaign, the Wildcats are halfway to their goal with over 2,500 Facebook fans so be sure to become a fan before October 30 to turn Autry purple.
"It isn't often that you find a former Heisman Trophy candidate who loves his alma mater so much that he is willing to do anything to get the fans excited about the games," said Tracie Hitz, associate athletic director. "Northwestern is a special place and Darnell's commitment to this Purplepalooza challenge is just another example of that."
Fans can watch the video, then cast their vote by becoming a Facebook fan of the official Northwestern Athletics Facebook page. Becoming a Facebook fan is easy - simply visit the Northwestern Athletics Facebook page and click on the "Become a Fan" button near the top of the page.
Help spread purple pride across the web by forwarding the video link to friends. The fan who forwards the link to the most people will win a pair of stadium club tickets for the October 31 Penn State football game.
The Wildcats are asking fans to paint themselves purple for this Halloween game to support Autry. Fans with the most purple at the game will win $100 cash or $100 in Wildcat Football tickets compliments of Harris Bank. It will be a fun-filled day for Harris Bank Day at Ryan Field beginning with trick or treating in the special pregame fan fest area, Wildcat Alleyween, and fireworks after the game sponsored by Harris Bank.
Harris Bank is also sponsoring a community section at Ryan Field as part of the Halloween festivities for Evanston and Wilmette residents. These residents can purchase tickets to the biggest game of the year at half-price, which is only $20 per ticket to see the 'Cats take on the 2008 Big Ten Champion Penn State Nittany Lions. To receive the promo code, please send an e-mail with your name and home address to email@example.com. These special tickets went on sale today and will be available for purchase until October 28 or until they run out, whichever comes first.
If you don't qualify for the Harris Bank Section, good seats are still available for the game and start as low as $35. Click here to purchase your tickets today and be sure to wear purple to the game. Trick or Treating with Wildcat student-athletes in Wildcat Alleyween will begin at 1:30 p.m. Before the game fans can also tailgate in the free North Beach Parking Lot, which will feature a jumbotron showing college football games before and after the NU game on October 31.
If you have any questions about Purplepalooza, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.