The meltdown of former minor league manager Phillip Wellman at AT&T Field in Chattanooga has garnered more than 1 million YouTube hits since 2007.
It's likely going to get a lot more.
Volkswagen's Super Bowl teaser ad on the Internet, dubbed "Sunny Side," features a clip of Wellman's tirade. It's set alongside other rants by people who later join a "get happy parade," according to VW.
VW officials didn't know Wellman's tantrum took place in Chattanooga, where the automaker has an auto assembly plant, Justin Osborne, VW of America's general manager of advertising and marketing communications, said Friday.
"It sounds calculated," he joked, adding that VW did a lot of research to find the YouTube clips.
Wellman said VW contacted him about doing the ad and took him to a ranch outside Los Angeles for the spot, in which he dances with the group.
"I have zero rhythm," Wellman quipped. "It might have been a good idea to have had a few drinks."
Wellman, now a hitting instructor for an AA affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals in Springfield, Mo., said the VW spot is the first time he has gained financially from his meltdown.
"I've had requests ... but I never knew what the intent was," he said.
Wellman was manager of the Mississippi Braves when his post-ejection tirade took place on June 1, 2007. His tantrum -- flinging third base into the outfield grass and then a military crawl to the mound and grenade-like toss of a rosin bag to home plate -- drew national attention.
Osborne said the teaser points to VW's Super Bowl spot, which will follow the "get happy" theme.
"The brand has always been a bit optimistic," he said. "When you see the world through the windshield of a VW, things are brighter and sunnier."
Osborne said Wellman won't appear in the VW Super Bowl TV ad on Feb. 3, but his image will be in other Super Bowl-related advertising elements.
Mike Pare, the deputy Business editor at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, has worked at the paper for 27 years. In addition to editing, Mike also writes Business stories and covers Volkswagen, economic development and manufacturing in Chattanooga and the surrounding area. In the past he also has covered higher education. Mike, a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., received a bachelor’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University. he worked at the Rome News-Tribune before ...