The famous “This Is SportsCenter” ESPN ad campaign was created with ad firm Wieden+Kennedy in 1995, but when that ad agency mutually parted ways with the network at the end of 2016 and then signed a deal with Fox, there were questions about where ESPN would go from there and if and how “This Is SportsCenter” campaign would continue. The network did sign a new deal with ad agency Droga5 last summer, but even then, the “This Is SportsCenter” future was uncertain.
Well, ESPN has now come out with another two “This Is SportsCenter” ads, which were actually developed by their internal ESPN CreativeWorks department, and both feature New York Yankees’ star Aaron Judge and are along the lines of what was done during the Wieden+Kennedy campaigns.
Here’s the first one, featuring Judge doing a “home run trot” on an ESPN treadmill between Scott Van Pelt and Elle Duncan:
That spot debuted on Van Pelt’s late-night SportsCenter Wednesday. Another one, which debuted on ESPN’s SportsCenter on Snapchat Thursday, saw a talking-head segment from Van Pelt and then Judge making a judge-style entrance:
Both were shot in ESPN’s Bristol offices, and Anthony Crupi of Ad Age notes that Judge was excited enough about the idea not just to make the trek up there, but to bring his parents along for the shoot. And ESPN senior vice president (marketing and consumer engagement) Wanda Young told Crupi she thinks they’ll carry on this campaign internally:
CreativeWorks will continue to develop new executions for the iconic campaign, she says, while last summer’s signing, the creative agency Droga5, will handle ESPN’s broader brand initiatives.
“Wieden was a great partner, but every group is always evaluating its agency relationships,” Young says, adding that the CreativeWorks bench was ready to jump into the breach once it became evident that it was time for a change.
“There is no reason why we can’t carry this on forward,” Young said.
Those two spots definitely fit in with the tradition of “This Is SportsCenter” ads, and they have some funny moments and some nice details, such as Judge’s butt-tap to Van Pelt and high-fives to mascots on the way out in the first one. They’re no “Follow me to freedom!” but they’re a solid start for doing this internally.
We’ll see how they’re received, but it seems likely there will be more in this vein, and it seems that ESPN will continue on with what’s made these commercials successful. For fans of these spots, that’s good news indeed.