I’ve always enjoyed commercials produced by ESPN over the years. The “This Is SportsCenter” series are full of classic, memorable spots. Viewers can appreciate the commercials, even if they aren’t sports fans; even if they aren’t familiar with the particular athlete or team being represented. In recent years, promos for ESPN’s College Game Day have become just as memorable. But what is it about these commercials that are so effective?
Personality. The people on screen are charismatic. They’re captivating. Forget for a moment that the news anchors, athletes, and coaches are celebrities. Think about how they present themselves on camera. They’re relaxed. They’re having fun. They’re natural. They seem friendly. Whatever video project you’re working on, make sure that the people on camera have personality. Your talent needs to connect personally with your audience.
Juxtaposition. The “This is SportsCenter” campaign is a lesson in contrast, and that’s part of the appeal. They take athletes, coaches, and mascots, pull them out of context, and place them within the confines of an ordinary, corporate office environment. Visually, it doesn’t match up, which lends itself to some great comedic moments. At the same time, it perfectly captures what ESPN is all about – they live sports. How can you communicate the core identity of your business or service by meshing two seemingly contradictory ideas or visuals?
Performance. The ESPN commercials are not centered on complex animation, bold graphics, intense music, or a stylized look. They are based on a solid idea, with strong copy, and excellent performances from the on-camera talent. A good video isn’t built on a lot of sizzle and special effects. Those things can certainly enhance a video, but without a creative idea at its core, your message won’t be communicated effectively. Start with the idea. Lean on a video production company to help you develop it into something unique. And rely on the performance(s) of talented individuals to give the video life and personality.
Here is one of the latest ESPN College GameDay commercials:
Okay, I had to post this commercial. One, because I’m an Alabama Alum and big Alabama football fan. Two, because I think ESPN always has awesome commercials. I think any company who is interested in using video to build their brand can learn some valuable lessons from watching these ESPN spots.
First, ESPN understands their demographic. They have narrowly focused their target audience and they know how to speak to that audience. Do you know who you target audience is? Do you understand how they think and how they make purchasing decisions?
Second, the audience can relate to ESPN commercials. If you are a sports fan, you instantly “get” each and every ESPN commercial. They don’t have to bombard you with a lot of facts and dialogue. They don’t have to explain everything to you. Knowing the behaviors and habits of your target audience will make easy for you to create video content that they can relate to. And when your audience understands your message, they feel comfortable with your brand. And when they feel comfortable with your brand, they will have no problem doing business with you.
Third, they rely on the visuals more so than words. This commercial uses very little dialogue. The visuals tell you everything you need to know. When you produce a video and/or TV commercial for your company, are you letting the visuals tell the story? Consider this commercial as another example.
Here’s the ESPN “Roll Tide” commercial. Enjoy. And Roll Tide.
If you love using Foursquare to “check in” at various locations around the city, AND if you love watching TV and discovering new shows, then you will probably enjoy Philo. The goal of Philo is to make television viewing more social. People who install the app tell others in their network when they have “tuned in” to a particular show. Then, they can comment on the show with others in their network in real-time, much like Twitter. It’s a great way to discuss television content and discover new shows. Shows that you watch are shared across the network and on other social sites like Facebook. Check out the article on Mashable about the app where you can read about additional features and view screenshots. Happy viewing.
In 2008 I worked as Director of Photography for the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival’s TV commercial. Filament Artists, a local creative services agency, handled production and post-production. Todd Hornsby was the producer and Sam McDavid was the writer/director. This year, the decision-makers at Sidewalk asked Filament to do it once again, and I had another opportunity to work as Director of Photography for the project. The Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival is now in its 12th year, and will be held in downtown Birmingham September 24-26.
PoshBirmingham.com is a website that features incentives from the finest retailers and restaurants in the Birmingham area. The website should launch in the next week, but to help raise awareness and drive traffic to the site, we were hired to produce a series of commercials. We created four commercials for Posh Birmingham – two :30 spots, one :15 spot, and one :05 spot. Some spots focus on the retailers, while others focus on the restaurants. The :30 spot posted below is one advertising some of the retailers you can find on PoshBirmingham.com.