ESPN Doubles Down on the Transcendence of Sports in New Ad

Second round of work from Arts & Letters

Sometimes, events that transpire on and off the field of play transcend sports and reveal deeper facets of the human spirit. 

Recent examples include the "Pink Out" that University of Georgia fans staged in September to show their support for Arkansas State football coach Blake Anderson after his wife Wendy succumbed to breast cancer, and the stirring speech by Notre Dame basketball coach Muffet McGraw during last year's Final Four, in which she championed women's role models in sports. 

ESPN captures those special moments, and many more, in the minute-long spot below. It represents the second round of work in the cable network's "There's No Place Like Sports" campaign, developed by Arts & Letters Creative Co.

There's No Place Like Sports

ESPN views "There's No Place Like Sports," launched last summer, as "an ever-evolving stage to showcase the timeless themes of human potential and connection," Rachel Epstein, the network's senior marketing director, tells Muse. The work targets a broad audience, not just hardcore fans, reminding viewers that ESPN's coverage and content delver "a bigger story beyond the X's and O's," she says. 

In terms of campaign development, "this is really a job of getting out of the way and letting the platform elevate the stories that are already there," says Arts & Letters funder and creative chief Charles Hodges. "As a result, we had a lot of great conversations about what would connect to a larger cultural conversation."

The "Pink Out" made the cut for because it "truly exemplified the humanity, compassion and respect that is at the heart of sports," Hodges says.

As for McGraw's impromptu press-conference address, "Imagine how many women—young or old, athletes or not—heard her and felt empowered?" he says.

Simone Biles kicks off the clip because her stature as a competitor and cultural role model exemplify the campaign's overall mission. "Beyond being the best in the world, she's a survivor and an important example for young girls everywhere of the power of confidence and courage," says Hodges. "She is someone who is actively the greatest of all time in their sport, but also redefining the definition of greatness." 

Moving forward, Hodges hopes "There's No Place Like Sports" scores as more than just another marketing campaign.

"You don't have to look very far these days to see there's a lot out there trying to tell us can't agree on much," he says. "The world of sports is a great reminder that we have so much more in common than we think, that maybe there's more that unites than divides us. Even if we're playing against each other, we can still treat each other with respect and dignity and remember that at the end of the day we're all on the same human team." 

The film features these athletes, coaches and personalities (in order of appearance):

Simone Biles – Olympic and World Champion Gymnast
Jake Olson – University of Southern California, Long Snapper
Muffett McGraw – University of Notre Dame, Women's Basketball Head Coach
Kevin Love – Cleveland Cavaliers, Power Forward
Blake & Wendy Anderson – Arkansas State Head Coach and his wife
Dabo Swinney (Head Coach) with David Saville (Equipment Manager) – Clemson University Football
Black Ferns – New Zealand Women's Rugby Team performing the Haka
Bianca Andreescu – US Open Champion Tennis Player
University of Colorado  
Kyle Guy (Guard) & Tony Bennett (Head Coach) – 2019 NCAA Champion Univ. of Virginia Men's Basketball Team
Lamar Jackson – Baltimore Ravens Quarterback  
Carlos Vera – Los Angeles Galaxy Football Club  
Lindsey Vonn – Olympic and World Champion Downhill Skier
Anthony Rotich – University of Texas at El Paso, NCAA Champion, Track  
Daniel Hudson – World Champion Washington Nationals, Pitcher
Jennifer Kupcho – Inaugural Augusta National Women's Amateur Winner  
Elena Delle Donne & Natasha Cloud –Washington Mystics, WNBA Champions
Colton Parayko (Defenseman) with Laila Anderson (Superfan) – Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues

CREDITS

Client: ESPN
SVP, Marketing: Laura Gentile
Senior Director: Rachel Epstein
Marketing Manager: Amanda Marcotullio
Associate Marketing Manager: Grace Bowes
Associate Marketing Manager: Faith McCarthy
Contributor, Writer, Producer: Stacey Pressman

Agency: Arts & Letters Creative Co.
Founder, Executive Creative Director: Charles Hodges
Director of Strategy: Andy Grayson
Director of Production: Letitia Jacobs
Managing Director: Rich Weinstein
Creative: Whitney Repole  
Creative: Albert Song  
Executive Producer: Rebecca Wilmer  
Assistant Producer: Griffin Morrow  
Head of Business: Affairs: Lenora Cushing
Business Affairs: Jennifer Kmetzsch
Business Director: Theo Abel
Business Manager: Mary Stuart Smart  
Strategist: Jessica Sartoretto  
Music Producer: Cam DiNunzio

Editorial Company: XYZ Editorial
Editor: Ryan Quinn  
Assistant Editor: Dallas Simms  
Assistant Editor: Shannon Lowe

Color: Madbox Made  
Colorist: Matthew West  
Color Producer: Macy West  

Audio Mix: Overcoast Music + Sound
Audio Mixer: Matt Whitworth
Producer: J.L. Hodges
Track: "Love the Game"

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David Gianatasio
David Gianatasio is senior editor at Clio Awards.

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