ESPN Welcomes Back the NFL, With a Little Help From Céline Dion

Arts & Letters calls a power (ballad) play

NFL football is returning to ESPN. That's big. Céline Dion big!

So, it's fitting that Dion's epic 1996 take on Jim Steinman's power ballad "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" drives a new spot celebrating the league's much-anticipated return to the cable network.

Developed with Arts & Letters Creative Co. and Superprime directors The Molloys, the 90-second film dropped Friday morning. It features appearances by gridiron stars, fans and coaches, DJ Khaled, along with characters from films and series produced by ESPN parent Disney, such as Remember the Titans, Family Guy and The Lion King:

NFL on ESPN: Ready for Football - It's All Coming Back to Us Now

"When you go out and ask NFL players or DJ Khaled to record themselves lip synching to Céline Dion, you don't really know what you're going to get," Arts & Letters creative director Molly Jamison tells Muse. "These guys went above and beyond, each taking their own creative liberties, and sent us stuff that went above and beyond what we were expecting."

"By widening our aperture for who and what is ready for this season of football, to include pop culture and beyond, we had the ability to tap into all kinds of footage, allowing us to build a far and wide celebration of football's return," she says.

Fusing scenes from sports and entertainment with Dion's triple-octave attack (last unleashed in this spot for Instagram Shopping) underscores the NFL's exalted standing in popular culture. For millions, the games are a transcendent experience. Arts & Letters reasoned that only a blow-out montage featuring the Seahawks' twin phenoms Shaquem and Shaquill Griffin and Family Guy's Peter Griffin could do justice to the league's impending comeback, especially after months with most sports sidelined thanks to Covid-19.

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"Our creative reflects how we are all—now more than ever—feeling, as we crave football and show fans, players, coaches, teams and ESPN all coming together to rejoice, reflect and exhale," says Laura Gentile, svp of marketing at the network.

If it feels gaudy, loud or a touch overblown, well, that's what the NFL and pro sports, at their best, are all about. Hollywood, too, sometimes. And that's exactly how most of us like it.

"The readiness for football this year goes beyond normal fandom," Jamieson says, "The visuals had to feel like they were from everywhere, but all saying the same thing—we're all so happy football is coming back to everyone!"

Other cameos in the spot include Titans' Derrick Henry, Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew, and Saints defensive end Cam Jordan (nice PJs, dude).


Laura Gentile: CMO, ESPN
Emeka Ofodile: VP, ESPN Marketing
Curtis Friends: Senior Director, ESPN Marketing
David Dessau: Manager, ESPN Marketing
Lauren Gorajek: Manager, ESPN Marketing
Carly Rotatori: Coordinator, ESPN Marketing: 
Chantre Camack: Director, Event Talent
Sharee Stephens: Associate Director, Event Talent

Charles Hodges: Executive Creative Director
Molly Jamison: Creative Director
Scott Hayes: Creative 
Eric Steele: Creative
Tanner McColl: Creative
Dixon Muller: Creative
Letitia Jacobs: Director of Production
Keith Jamerson: Executive Producer
Rebecca Wilmer: Executive Producer
Griffin Morrow: Assistant Producer
Rich Weinstein: Managing Director
Theo Abel: Business Director
Martin Madriaga: Business Manager
Andy Grayson: Director of Strategy
Zach Wootton: Strategist
Lenora Cushing: Director of Business Affairs
Jennifer Kmetzsch: Business Affairs

Pat Blumer: Editor
Matt Doe: Editor
Sho Kellam: Assistant Editor
Whitney Green: Executive Producer
Libbie Crane: Producer
Ryan Dunstan: Assistant Producer

The Malloys: Director
Rebecca Skinner: Managing Director / EP
Michelle Ross: Managing Director / Head of Sales
Charlotte Woodhead: Executive Producer 
Matt Sanders: Head of Production 
Alexandra Lisee: Line Producer

Matthew West : Colorist
Macy West: Producer

AUDIO MIX:: Overcoast Music + Sound
Matt Whitworth: Audio Mixer
J.L. Hodges: Producer

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