In the wide world of sports, few organizations do advertising better than ESPN. The all-sports channel is particularly famous for their “This is SportsCenter” commercials that tout the channel’s daily news program while featuring various combinations of athletes, mascots, coaches, cheerleaders and on-air talent. For the better part of the last decade, these commercials have been the standard by which sports advertising is measured. Until this year.
With a full season of Thursday Night Football games on the NFL Network and a need to set their online Fantasy Football program apart from the likes of ESPN, Yahoo and CBS Sports, NFL Media, in conjunction with LA agency David & Goliath, has stepped up to the plate. The campaign, called “It’s Serious Fun,” features a full slate of national TV commercials, print and radio advertising, online and events.
What sets this campaign apart, you ask? Well, simply put, it’s the pitch man. Quirky and unnecessarily serious, the bearded star with a flair for the dramatic delivers the message that football is fun – Seriously. Whether he’s describing the perks of watching football games socially (high fives, FTW!) or detailing the simplicity of signing up for and managing a Fantasy Football team on NFL.com, whatever it is, this guy’s got it. With dramatic settings and an awesome 3-piece suit, the new face of football also stands in stark contrast to what most of us picture when we think NFL.
At a time when the NFL is inundated with negativity caused by “Bounty-gate,” player safety concerns and a referee strike, it’s good to see the organization take itself just a bit less seriously. The lesson here? Sometimes, even the most well-known, respected brands need to revisit their message – As we learned years ago from ESPN, it never hurts to have a little fun.