Forty years ago, ESPN first hit the airwaves, and to celebrate, the network is debuting a dozen new “This is SportsCenter” ads. The laugh-out-loud campaign, originally created out of Wieden & Kennedy in 1995, transformed the broadcaster’s bland, Bristol, Conn., headquarters into a bizarre universe where sports stars, ESPN personalities and team mascots interacted in hilariously mundane ways.
Tomorrow, ESPN will start airing the twelve ads, marking the first time the broadcaster will debut that many at once. The spots will be running across television, digital and social.
ESPN parted ways with Wieden & Kennedy in 2017 and created the new spots in-house. Hungry Man, the company’s longtime production partner on the effort, produced the new ads.
True to the campaign’s heritage, the new ads depict characters from the ESPN universe, stumbling, screwing up, dealing with run-of-the-mill headaches in very human and funny ways.
One new ad, above, sees ESPN presenter Stan Verrett making a presentation before colleagues and athletes, including the New York Giants’ Saquon Barkley. To Verrett's chagrin, instant messages from fellow anchor Neil Everett pop up on the screen, revealing a fascination with the NFL running back that goes beyond his athletic prowess.
Another conference room spot sees ESPN anchor Linda Cohn fumble with the clicker and slides, only to be coaxed by L.A. Rams quarterback Jared Goff in his own special way.
In one new ad, ESPN’s Kenny Mayne reveals how the company helped take care of its parent-employees kids during the tricky summer months.
Other spots take us to the ESPN cafeteria, including one in which pro golfer applies his skills to slicing his peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
At the counter of the ESPN cafe, we see WWE star Becky Lynch get miffed when the barista asks a basic question.
“We’ve been working to develop terrific new SportsCenter scripts for a while now, and when we realized the timing worked out perfectly with our anniversary, we pressed ‘Go,’ said Laura Gentile, SVP of marketing in a statement. “This campaign has always been iconic, and made to delight fans. We hope they love these new spots.”
More of the new spots can be seen on ESPN’s YouTube channel.
For real fans, the network has also debuted a “This Is SportsCenter” quiz on ESPN.com. Those who need to brush up can also watch the more than 400 spots in the campaign in ESPN’s online archive.