Friday, September 13, 2013

How ESPN anchors its network

ESPN is clearly holding its own in the new battle over 24-hour sports television. They have the NFL, MLB, NBA and other important live sports properties. But they have something else. An incredibly strong brand in SportsCenter, their nightly wrap up show that has been a staple of the network almost since its inception.

Why is SportsCenter so strong?

Not because they show scores and highlights, you can get most of those on your local news sports segment. Not because of all the high-tech wizardry they use on their set. Not even because it's on one of ESPN's networks almost every hour of the day.

What makes SportsCenter so strong is its cast of anchors and the personalities each member has created for him or herself. If you watch the show regularly you know who likes which sports, their catchphrases and the idiosyncrasies that make their presentation of sports news interesting.

But one way the network helps bring those personalities to life and demonstrate how inside sports ESPN is, is the This is SportCenter campaign, of which this is just the latest excellent execution.

If Fox, NBC or CBS ever get into the conversation of 24-hour sports broadcasting, it will be because they don't just deliver sports news and but because of the strong brands of the people who deliver that news.

That's the only way to truly differentiate their networks in the long run.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A moment of silence

Twelve years is a long time. But when you're dealing with an event where thousands lost their lives and was the impetus for a war that cost thousands more, it might as well be twelve seconds.

Like the attack on Pearl Harbor or the Battle of Gettysburg, the Twin Towers falling is a permanent marker in the history of our nation. The last thing anyone needs is an advertiser telling us to "never forget."

As if we ever could.

364 days a year the mantra "Do good and take credit" make sense in PR. Help out veterans, donate to first responders groups, give to the food bank, build affordable housing, then promote your largesse to build goodwill.

On 9/11 do something because it's the right thing to do and if people find out, they'll give you credit. Self serving promotion on this day that has so many emotions attached to it by everyone in the nation has very little upside and a whole lot of downside as AT&T and Tumbledown Trails found out.

Frankly, even though this "tribute" is beautifully shot, edited and scored, it's still an ad for beer no matter how loudly the folks at Budweiser say it's not.

Next year please, if you must commemorate 9/11, do so like most Americans, in a moment of self-reflective silence.

Thinly veiled attempts to connect with consumers through their grief is just a little more than I can take.