In 2016, Chicago resident Ryan Stew was roasted hard by life: His fiancee dumped him (and his belongings from her place), and he finished last in his fantasy football league.
Stew’s pals (who refer to their annual football league as The Quest), made sure the hurt cut deep. They paid for a 4-by-5-foot bus stop personals ad that described Stew as a “2016 fantasy football loser” who “perspires ambitiously”—with a pre-weight loss photo and the hashtag #TrySomeStew to boot.
Could it have gotten any worse? Well, Stew is blessed to have a group of friends who repeatedly remind him just how bad it can get.
This year, they’ve escalated their campaign with a billboard for “Laxative Yoga” featuring a kneeling Stew in a psychedelic desert, surrounded by goats, an outhouse completing the backdrop.
The billboard went up in the highly trafficked Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago on Monday with the tagline: “Woosah your bowels with Stew, an unlicensed fantasy football loser.”
The 14 friends behind the prank, some of whom have known each other since grade school, keep in touch primarily during the 16 weeks of fantasy football season, and were able to pull off the stunt with the help of two league buddies with an industry in.
One of them is Logan Malloy, a copywriter on the creative team at Conversant, a digital media agency for personalized ads in Chicago.
“We’ve had punishments before for the fantasy loser: Eat dog food, imitate the George Costanza underwear photoshoot on the couch, etc. But it wasn’t until a few years ago that we started thinking bigger,” Malloy said.
The eighth annual fantasy football league roast was “Chicago’s Most Eligible Bachelor.” This year for the 11th, Malloy explained that the friends wanted the ad to incorporate a play on New Year’s resolutions with a dumb workout. “That’s how we settled on Laxative Yoga.”
Malloy’s colleague, Conversant art director Tony Stewart, lent a hand in the design.
Sean Wyrobek, the other league buddy who has been vital to the operation, is a sales representative for JCDecaux. His job allowed the friends to get such “primetime real estate” for the bus stop billboard, Malloy added.
When the first bus stop personals ad was unveiled in 2017 following Stew’s 2016 fantasy loss, the ad got so much media attention that it led to a three-episode feature on The Steve Harvey Show that flew in league members from all over the country to help Stew find a date.
In an interview with Patch.com, Stew joked that the stunt made “beautiful women instinctively flock to [his] social media accounts like salmon of the Capistrano.”
It’s unclear what kind of reception “Laxative Yoga” will get, but it’ll surely make an impression during the morning commute at Wicker Park today.