These days, print media is nearly obsolete, as newspapers and magazines across the country are having a hard time getting people to subscribe to their publications due to the proliferation of information on the internet. You would expect that these old school journals would probably resort to bizarre tactics to lure people into buying a subscription to their periodical, even if the customer only wound up using it to line their birdcages. Well, believe it or not, even two decades ago before most people had the internet to get all of their
gossip news off of, magazines were so desperate to get real, live subscribers that they were offering some of the most ridiculous freebies that would come along with any paid subscription. Above, you see what may be the most notorious example of a shitty subscription freebie ever…. Sports Illustrated’s infamous football phone.
Here is the extended version of the ad that was running during the Christmas season in 1990:
I’ll give you a few minutes to stop laughing at the extremely fake excitement and the nostalgic 80’s hairstyles….
Now keep in mind, cell phones were still 15 pound toys for the rich at this time, so the idea that someone could get excited by a regular telephone dressed up as something else isn’t really all that far-fetched. But excited enough to call up the missus and tell her that you’re at the stadium…. and calling her from a FOOTBALL!!! Holy shit!!! That’s the most unbelievable thing I’ve heard since some chick thought it’d be a good idea to get one for her father, brother, and her boyfriend! It’s even more unbelievable than the fact that she’s only talking about two different guys….
What’s really sad is how Sports Illustrated dedicates twice as much time in this ad to trying to sell the silly phone than it does to actually pitching the magazine itself you’ll be stuck with for 52 weeks. This is never a good sign about the quality of the actual product being offered when the focus is clearly on the throw-in. There are suckers born every minute, and surely this ad enticed quite a few naive ladies into getting the man in their life a subscription to SI solely to surprise them with some brown molded plastic piece of junk that they would be embarrassed to have any of their friends see them actually use, at least while sober. And if, like most guys, the recipients of this lovely gift did not care to read about something they can more easily watch on television, then someone just got stuck paying $52 for a “free” football phone that probably wound up in the Goodwill donation box by Super Bowl time. Boy, that was a waste of money….
There may be no such thing as a free lunch, but thanks to the untrained monkeys in the Sports Illustrated promotions department, there was such a thing as a free football phone! And if those people in the commercials are to be believed and weren’t just being manipulated with cattle prods, the football phone is the greatest invention since sliced bread and the Slap Chop. Hell, it even has a mute button and automatic redial! Holy Pigskin, Batman, I’ll bet it even has a dial tone and a place to plug it into the wall… you know, just in case you can’t get whatever mysterious wireless connection they had at that stadium in the commercial. Man, now I wish I had a football phone and not this penis phone I got by subscribing to Men’s Health….