ESPN’s ad campaigns have been fundamental to the network’s growth throughout its history. One only has to mention the words “This is SportsCenter” To think about how instrumental that campaign was for the growth of ESPN’s flagship program.

This week ESPN kicked off a brand new, multi-platform global campaign entitled “Life Needs Sports.” The ads won’t just run on traditional American television, they’ll be featured in digital, print, and social. They will also run throughout ESPN’s global empire from South America to South Africa and India to the United Kingdom.

It’s the first campaign with their new ad agency Droga5. The company has produced new “This is SportsCenter” commercials from their own in-house unit.

You can see a couple of the new sports below.

ESPN provided more details about the campaign as well:

Life Needs Sports celebrates the powerful role sports play in fans’ lives. The campaign acknowledges that all fans are unique, with their own vernacular, sense of humor, styles and traditions. From the inspirational to the emotional, to the offbeat and beyond, the creative executions tap into universal sports truths and forge genuine connections with distinct fan groups.

“We feel now is the right time to remind people just how integral a role sports plays in our lives. Life Needs Sports is a sentiment that resonates with fans and will facilitate an ongoing dialogue,” said Wanda Young, SVP Marketing and Consumer Engagement. “Only ESPN can have this authentic conversation with fans in real time across our platform. Throughout this campaign we’ll champion the collective experience and emotion of sports.”

Added David Droga, Creative Chairman and Founder at Droga5, “Life Needs Sports—it couldn’t be more true. But it’s also more than a tagline, it’s an articulation of ESPN’s unwavering belief and underscores the brand’s purpose. This campaign connects with fans during their sports’ peak moments in a way that’s genuine and authentic.”

Sean Hanrahan, SVP of Brand and Marketing Solutions at ESPN said, “Sports give us what we need, when we need it—inspiration, connection, escape. It also provides relatable metaphors that help us better understand the world around us. Through the Life Needs Sports campaign, ESPN will surprise and delight fans with unique observations and insights about sports.”

From the massive layoffs to all the political controversy that has engulfed the network to the shocking resignation of John Skipper, it’s been a tumultuous time for ESPN. And maybe it’s not a coincidence that the new global ad campaign is so sports-centric given that one of the major criticisms about ESPN (especially from the right of the political spectrum) is that they don’t stick to sports enough. It’s probably not a bad time for ESPN to reset and do a little rebranding after everything the company has been through over the past couple years. Time will tell if the campaign can become as effective in reaching sports fans as “This is SportsCenter” has been.


About Matt Yoder

Award winning sportswriter at The Comeback and Awful Announcing. The biggest cat in the whole wide world.