ESPN is teeing up the 2015 college football season with a marketing campaign featuring Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer and a legion of vengeful Badgers, Tigers, Bulldogs and Ducks.
The sports colossus on Friday began running "The Message," a new 60-second spot featuring the reigning national champions' field general as he intones his way through a grimly pragmatic pep talk. "They're coming," Coach Meyer rasps, as the camera cuts to a rogue's gallery of mascots clattering their silverware under a sign that reads "Eat Your Enemies."
Created in collaboration with Wieden & Kennedy, New York, the new ESPN spot ends with an ominous shot of more than a dozen mascots lurking on a moonlit lawn while Coach Meyer warns his unseen charges to "Get ready .... They're going to try to take what's ours."
An extension of last season's "Who's In?" campaign, "The Message" offers a cogent picture of a microverse in which score-settling is the currency of the realm. "Ohio State was the fourth-ranked team heading into the playoffs last season, and now everyone's gunning for them," said Aaron Taylor, senior VP of marketing, ESPN. "As the defending national champs they have a huge target on their backs."
While dethroning OSU will be a key thread in this season's overall narrative, the new ESPN spot teases out at least a dozen other storylines. The "Eat Your Enemies" sign, for example, is a replica of the one that hangs in Oregon's jocks-only cafeteria. (Given that Oregon's mascot is an oversized duck, it's hard to imagine the team taking down anything more substantial than a mass of wet bread.) There are also allusions to the 99-year UCLA-USC rivalry, the mutual antipathy of SEC founding members Georgia and Tennessee, and Jim Harbaugh's return to the maize-and-blue delirium of Ann Arbor's Big House.
"There are little nuggets interspersed throughout the spot that will be of interest to fans of those particular teams," Mr. Taylor said. "So, there's Michigan State looking for revenge after losing to Oregon in in the second game of the season" -- an early stumble that effectively scuttled the Spartans' dream of a seventh national championship title. "There are all these little reminders of what happened last year, and how it's time to get revenge," Mr. Taylor said.
Along with the 60-second spot, ESPN will also air two 30-second edits and a pair of 15-second cutdowns. The creative will air until late October, whereupon ESPN will begin teasing the two Dec. 31 playoff games and the Jan. 11 National Championship tilt.
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