US Creative Work of the Week: Larry Fitzgerald fulfills a promise in University of Phoenix Ad
As a native Minnesotan, Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald holds a special place in my heart. Growing up in St. Paul, Fitzgerald was (obviously) a fantastic athlete — but it’s his character that should be celebrated just as much as his athletic exploits. He was named as a finalist for the NFL’s “Man of the Year” (he was the Cardinals’ team “Man of the Year”) on 2012 and has plenty of well-earned accolades and honors.
Fitzgerald’s private and public lives came together in 2003 after establishing the “Carol Fitzgerald Memorial Fund” after his mother, with whom he was very close, died of breast cancer in 2003.
Fitzgerald promised his mother that he would complete his undergraduate degree (he left the University of Pittsburgh early to pursue his NFL career) — and did so in 2016, receiving his degree from the University of Phoenix. 180LA recently launched new creative celebrating this achievement and was voted as The Drum’s US Creative of the Week.
In the TV spot “Voicemail”, Larry calls his mother’s home in St. Paul, and leaves a message, thanking her for inspiring him to rise: as a student, a son, and even now as a father. In the past, and in the years following his mother’s death, Fitzgerald revealed that he would call his childhood home to hear her voice recorded on the answering machine. The spot itself has a reverent yet hopeful texture that captures the story well.
In addition to the TV spot, the Los Angeles agency created five social media films where Fitzgerald calls out other influential people whom he credits with helping him achieve his college education, including his high school president, University of Phoenix academic advisors, and even a University of Phoenix “Focused to the Finish” scholarship recipient who desired to pursue her higher education dreams despite losing one of her children.
"When you listen to alumni from the University of Phoenix, you find amazing stories of determination,” said Rafael Rizuto and Eduardo Marques, executive creative directors of 180LA. “It’s in their DNA, and even in the veins of this awesome athlete, Larry Fitzgerald. His passion and commitment is everything. He wanted to keep the promise to his mom, and he did it beautifully.”
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