A couple of weeks ago ESPN had a special called the Top 50 This is SportsCenter commercials hosted by actor Jason Sudeikis. They started this campaign back in 1997 to highlight their flagship program, SportsCenter. For a campaign to last 16 years, it must to be a good one. It seems like most campaigns will last a few months, maybe a year and then it is on to a new one to keep things fresh. ESPN has done something right with the This is SportsCenter campaign and after watching the countdown I decided to discuss why I think it is such a good campaign and why it has held up.
They Keep it Simple/Know who they are: ESPN is all about sports and SportsCenter gives the latest scores and highlights for the sports world, so what do the commercials deal with… sports. The campaign doesn’t try and get fancy or cute. They even use current players, coaches, sports personalities and mascots in the commercials. ESPN is in the business of sports and that is what their commercials are about.
Humor: The commercials are funny and some of them are really funny. I can’t think of one that hasn’t made me laugh. As long as they keep coming up with funny jokes and scenarios, the commercials will continue to be entertaining and memorable. Think about the commercials that you remember, chances are some of them are funny ones.
Make fun of themselves: ESPN and the SportsCenter anchors are not afraid of poking a little fun at themselves. Whether it is making fun of how ESPN only covers the Yankees and the Red Sox or certain quirks an anchor has, they don’t hold back. Some of the commercials have even dealt with how easy it is to be a SportsCenter anchor.
Not afraid to be edgy: ESPN comes off as a pretty straight forward and conservative company. With these commercials though, they aren’t afraid to get a little edgy. There is The Swim Suit Calendar with the anchors doing a photo-shoot in swim suits (even Linda Cohn), The Bed Wetter with Scott Van Pelt getting the nickname Bed Wetter and the Locker Room with Dan Patrick and Trey Wingo in towels doing interviews about how the show went. As a whole ESPN stays pretty conservative, but going outside that with these commercials adds to their entertainment level.
Stay relevant: Sports stories are changing all the time. One day a player or team is in the spotlight and the next day they are old news. The commercials stay up to date and feature current people and stories of the sports world. This keeps things fresh and relevant and from feeling overplayed.
As a huge sports fan I am frequently watching ESPN and have seen just about all of the commercials. It was nice getting to see some of my favorites in this countdown. I thought about listing my favorites, but there were just too many. If you want to check out the commercials visit ESPN’s YouTube page HERE. It is not often we see a campaign last for 16 years, but if you can do what they have and find that right combination, I say stick with it as long as you can.
Author: Gary Balakoff