APRIL 6, 2022 - Disney’s unrivaled audience and sports rights draw advertisers from every industry looking to tap into the power of live sports. At the intersection of technology and creativity, Disney is empowering brands to execute unique and custom campaigns while aligning their stories with pivotal game moments.
"Innovation is the foundation of everything Disney does and our sports offerings for brands are no exception,” said Sean Hanrahan, SVP, Sports Brand Solutions, Disney Advertising. “Whether it’s through customized ad experiences surrounding ESPN studio shows or providing exclusive access across our social media platforms – the opportunity to connect fans with brands and drive engagement wherever and whenever they’re viewing is limitless.”
Over the past four years, ESPN has not only introduced, but evolved and enhanced capabilities for live commercials, direct connect integrations, and tapped into the reach and fan engagement on social media to create custom opportunities for sponsors.
In December, Duluth Trading Company returned for its third Live Commercial sponsorship with ESPN starring Elle Duncan and Michael Eaves. The relationship between ESPN and Duluth Trading dates back to 2018 when ESPN incorporated live commercials into a SportsCenter telecast for the first time ever. The continuation of this relationship aimed to re-imagine how Duluth Trading integrated more organically into the world of sports. Through witty banter between Duncan and Eaves, the pair authentically highlighted Duluth Trading products while channeling the humor and creativity that ESPN fans know and love.
Earlier this year, ESPN Creative Studio collaborated with financial services company Ally to introduce Direct Connect – a live split screen execution designed to create a more connected message to the viewer, featuring SportsCenter anchor Kevin Negandhi. This technological innovation connects a brand’s message to the live game, a first for ESPN, and for the sports entertainment industry.
Changing the game for sponsorship activations, Disney amplifies traditional TV moments into more real-time alignment and conversation across social media. As the most followed brand on social media, ESPN has developed one of the most engaged communities with diverse and customizable offerings and branded content.
Brands have the opportunity to align with key tentpole moments through custom integrations, as well as by leveraging digital, programmatic and social media to help sports buyers tap into unexpected wins and upsets using advanced automation.
Since joining TikTok in 2019, ESPN has become one of the topmost-engaged brands on the platform. With 23 million followers and counting, ESPN’s organic, loyal fan base has propelled brand extensions including College GameDay, ESPNFC, and espnW. The company’s all-star talent roster brings unique voices and social footprints to electrify sponsorship opportunities. ESPN personalities like Omar Raja, Chiney Ogwumike and Gary Striewski garner over 3.8 million followers combined and provide an all-access look into some of the biggest events in the sports world. During the College Football Playoff, Striewski gave his followers a look behind the scenes at Goodyear’s tire art mascots, creating connections to fans beyond the live event.
Through Disney’s award-winning in-house creative studio, Disney CreativeWorks, sponsors also have the opportunity to collaborate on branded content. To kick off the 2021 College Football season, the RAM Truck brand worked with Disney CreativeWorks to launch its advertising campaign, “Built for Tailgating.” The campaign included broadcast video featuring custom content with ESPN personalities Marty Smith, in addition to Jason Fitz & Gary Striewski across broadcast, linear, digital and social, including RAM brand, ESPN and Smith’s respective social media channels.
ESPN has only scratched the surface of what these opportunities can look like for brands and Disney will continue to push the envelope creatively to ensure an unrivaled advertising experience for sponsors.
Kristen Smith | Kristen.T.Smith@Disney.com