I’m not sure when this was actually done, but at some point ESPN decided to start sending out “Eye Balls” to potential advertisers. On the surface this is an excellent idea. It’s clever, different, and gets the point across as to what the benefit is for advertising with ESPN is. The benefit being that more eyes viewing your product outweighs the cost of working with the “Leader”. Here’s ESPN’s description of it’s idea via Slanch Report….
Brief: ESPN’s up-close camera coverage and commentary attracts the highest number of TV sports-viewers in Asia. Our brief was to create a Direct campaign that informed media-buyers of this.
Solution: We re-designed actual sports-balls to look like “HUMAN EYEBALLS”. A basketball, football and baseball. Each ball had a messsage on the back which read: “ESPN. You can’t get closer.” They were sent with a letter (detailing the up-close camera coverage and ratings) inside a box titled with the name of the ball.
Results: This DM [direct marketing] resulted in achieving extremely positive reactions from the targeted media community and the awareness for the key statistics showed a very positive increase. It facilitated in creating a very favorable environment for the subsequent sales process.
Seems pretty straight-forward right? Well that’s until you see the packaging. I’m willing to bet this might freak more than a few people out…..
William Somerset: California, tell your people to stay away. Stay away now, don’t – don’t come in here. Whatever you hear, stay away! ESPN has the upper hand! MILLS!!!”
ESPN: “Do you hear me? I’m telling you how much I admire you and you’re pretty advertising dollars.”
David Mills: “What?”
ESPN: “Your advertising dollars.”
David Mills: “What’d you f**king say?”
ESPN: “It’s disturbing how easily a member of the press can purchase from the men in your company. I visited there this morning, after you left. I tried to play CEO, I tried to taste the life of a company man. I didn’t work out so I took a souvenir.”
David Mills: “What’s he talking about?”
William Somerset: “Give me your gun.”
David Mills: “What’s going on over there? What’s in the box, what is in the box??? Awww, WHAT’S IN THE BOX?! WHAT’S IN THE F**KING BOX!?”
Marketing Can be Terrifying (Slanch Report)