Quirky ESPN Ad Campaign Is Back

Syracuse's Otto the Orange joins US women's soccer stars for new 'This Is SportsCenter' ad
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 3, 2023 12:20 PM CST

ESPN's iconic advertising campaign is back, with the first installment of "This Is SportsCenter" in three years. The comical, off-kilter ads routinely feature athletes and mascots in promotion of ESPN's flagship sports news program. This one is no different. The 15-second "Orange Slices" shows US soccer stars Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Sophia Smith finishing off a large pile of orange slices at ESPN headquarters alongside SportsCenter anchor Nicole Briscoe, as Syracuse University mascot Otto the Orange takes in the scene, apparently alarmed. The clip, which debuted during the Dec. 30 Orange Bowl, is reminiscent of a fan-favorite ad from 2011, showing MLB player Jason Heyward explaining how a wood bat is made as the Stanford Tree mascot falls to the ground in horror.

Ad agency Wieden+Kennedy created about 400 of the commercials from the mid-1990s until its partnership with ESPN ended in 2017. ESPN's last "This Is SportsCenter" ads came out in 2019. Last year, the channel announced it would work with Richmond, Virginia-based Arts & Letters to revive what Adweek calls "one of advertising's most prolific campaigns." Several more ads are planned in the coming year "with the best athletes in the world," says Laura Gentile, executive vice president of commercial marketing at ESPN and Disney Networks, per Muse by Clio. ESPN says Olympic track and field gold medalist Sydney McLaughlin will appear, along with more team mascots and ESPN personalities Elle Duncan, Kevin Negandhi, Jay Harris, and Hannah Storm. (More ESPN stories.)

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