As ESPN prepared to launch its new miniseries, SneakerCenter, director Bobbito García and Hock Films turned to New York City-based Block & Tackle to bring its eccentric, colorful theme to life.
That spans the show’s logo, animated opening and all custom graphics that appear throughout the show. The direction for the show’s visual identity was clear from the start with heavy influence from “sneakerhead” culture.
“Not only did it need to reflect ‘90s hip-hop and NYC street basketball culture, but also the diverse, global trends pioneered by current influencers,” said Adam Gault, partner and creative director at Block & Tackle. “The show is a celebration of all-things sneaker and an education on the history of design and innovation behind today’s sneaker culture. As one of the world’s foremost authorities on these subjects, Bobbito continually emphasized the need for authenticity, positivity, and high energy.”
The creative studio started by designing for mobile to ensure the imagery was clean and engaging across all platforms, said Block & Tackle producer Megan Anderson in a statement. Then, they created the show’s open, which serves as a freeform timeline through sneaker history courtesy of García’s “encyclopedic knowledge.”
The open, dubbed “Laced Up,” shows animated shoelaces crisscrossing upward as different images appear. It ends with the laces tying the knot before the logo appears on the sneaker’s tongue.
“That structure really grounds the open and also sets a reverent but playful tone for the rest of the show,” partner and creative director Ted Kotsaftis said.
The minimalist logo draws further inspiration from sneaker details such as stitching, treads and laces. It also features varying font weights, which adds playfulness to the overall image.
“From that mark, we expanded to include an icon that could be used across social platforms and other marketing verticals,” Anderson says.
Block & Tackle also created more than 40 illustrations of seminal sneaker silhouettes that appear throughout the graphics package (slideshow above). These illustrations—paired with other design elements such as customizable title card templates, lower-third graphics and animated transitions —were compiled into customizable toolkits for ESPN to use down the road.
”SneakerCenter is exactly the kind of collaborative project we love: a hot topic, forward-thinking clients, and a touch of mischievousness,” Gault said. “The team at Hock had a clear vision of where to take the show, and their counterparts at ESPN were wonderfully supportive. We can’t wait to expand the package over subsequent episodes.”