Over the past 30 years, few ad campaigns have been as universally beloved as ESPN’s “This is SportsCenter.”
Dreamed up by Wieden+Kennedy in 1995 and originally inspired by (and even named after) the rock mockumentary “This Is Spinal Tap,” the campaign comically imagined the network’s Bristol, Connecticut, offices as the center of the sports universe—not metaphorically but literally, with athletes and mascots living and working together with anchors and journalists.
W+K made more than 400 spots before splitting with ESPN in 2017. The network then continued the campaign in-house, with mixed results, before pausing it in 2019.
But now it’s back, with a new agency at the helm: Arts & Letters Creative Co., the Richmond, Virginia, creative shop that’s been doing a lot of ESPN work lately, including the brand campaign “There’s No Place Like Sports”—and which counts a number of W+K alums among its staff, including several who worked on “This is SportsCenter” back in the day.
Chief among them is Charles Hodges, founder and executive creative director, who began his career as a W+K New York copywriter. Hodges worked on many “TISC” ads in his three years there. In fact, the well-known 2009 spot with the Oregon duck was the first commercial shoot he ever went on, and he also wrote the classic John Clayton commercial that went viral in 2012.