Disney has had an epic launch to the college football season with ESPN’s most-watched kickoff weekend since 2016 and Disney Advertising collaborated with several sponsors to bring them along for the ride. Starting Labor Day weekend and going through the remainder of the season, sponsors will run unique season long activations that will have a presence within ESPN’s college football content across all platforms. While many sponsors will be returning, Vrbo, DoorDash, and Old Dominion Freight Line will join the action with new integrations customized for their brand. Additionally, thirty-six new advertisers have come on board for this season with the top category growth from automobile insurance, cleaners and cleansers, hotels and resorts, medicines and proprietary remedies and retail.
“Between broadcast, linear, cable, networks and multiple DTC offerings no one can offer what Disney can from a distribution standpoint,” said Jim Minnich, SVP, Disney Advertising Revenue & Yield Management. “We have so many ways for brands to connect with their target consumers – especially college football fans. This makes us an ideal home for all categories. We offer solutions for everyone, making Disney a wonderful place for brands to be.”
Disney started the college football season with what might be one of the best kickoff weekends to date on ESPN and ABC. Week 1 games started Thursday, September 1 and concluded on Monday, September 5 with Allstate, Chick-fil-A, Mercedes-Benz and Xfinity all playing key roles in the action. Allstate kicked off the season in a big way as the new entitlement sponsor of the Allstate Louisiana Kickoff. The game was hosted by the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans and featured two storied programs – LSU and Florida State – on Sunday, Sept. 4, on ABC in primetime. Meanwhile, as the sponsor of ESPN’s Kickoff Week, Xfinify surrounded all the game action on ESPN and ABC from Thursday through Monday.
Chick-fil-A returned as the entitlement sponsor of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Games on Saturday, Sept. 3 and Monday, Sept. 5. Mercedes-Benz returned for its Labor Day Kickoff digital live show, which livestreamed Monday, September 5, connecting with fans across social media on Twitter, YouTube, ESPN.com and the ESPN App. The brand will continue to drive the conversation around CFP throughout the season with a Road to the Championship feature in the Mercedes-Benz sponsored ESPN Saturday Prime Halftime report.
For several other College Football Playoff official sponsors, the road to the College Football Playoff begins now, as season long sponsorship programs launched at the start of the season and will culminate with the highly anticipated College Football Playoff National Championship presented by AT&T. Throughout the season, ESPN and AT&T will bring fans the best viewing experience with the AT&T 5G SkyCam while also keeping fans informed on action across the country with AT&T5G Studio Updates on Saturdays. Capital One returns as the presenting sponsor of ABC’s premier game window, Saturday Night Football, and will keep fans engaged all season long with the Capital One Fan Vote on ESPN’s social platforms.
Goodyear returns as ESPN’s college football aerial coverage sponsor for College GameDay Built by The Home Depot, Saturday Night Football presented by Capital One, and the College Football Playoff, while also highlighting top teams, moments, and fans on the road across linear and digital with their Road Test thematic. Modelo’s Fighting Spirit will return in a big way this season with weekly integrations in-game, a social campaign around Rivalry Week, and a season long promotion with ESPN college football analyst, Desmond Howard, recognizing the Fighting Spirit of college football fans across the nation.
Throughout the season brands such as, Cheez-It, Dr Pepper, RAM Trucks, Taco Bell, and Vrbo – will collaborate with Disney’s award-winning in-house creative agency, Disney CreativeWorks, to develop custom creative. From innovative integrations within live programming, to creatively leveraging ESPN talent across platforms, these brands will reach fans in a highly impactful and organic way all season long.
Several other sponsors will also have a presence for the duration of the season. Arby’s will serve as the presenting sponsor for the ABC afternoon slot for the first half of the season. On ESPN, Marathon will present fans with the noon slot, while Papa Johns will present the game at 3:30pm and Subway will present the primetime showdown that day. Additionally, SONOS returns as the presenting sponsor for the ESPN2 Saturday Prime window and GEICO returns as the presenting sponsor of the ESPN/ESPN2 Saturday late prime window. In addition to game windows, Nissan returns for its Heisman Trophy sponsorship program featuring the legendary Nissan Heisman House.
Kristen Smith | Kristen.T.Smith@Disney.com