Anyone who watches even a little ESPN knows that the network’s catchphrase is “clutch,” as in, LeBron hit that jumper in the final three seconds: “clutch.”

Over the past year, ESPN has made much marketing ado of that one simple word. Last February, the network launched its “Clutch Way to Watch” campaign to support its WatchESPN app, which live streams ESPN’s family of networks to computers and mobile devices.

The campaign features two super-fans who appear in animated black-and-white line drawings and “live to celebrate all things clutch and watch big sports moments on the go,” according to ESPN.

Now, the network has unveiled “Get Clutch,” a fan-centric interactive extension of WatchESPN’s animated “Clutch Way to Watch” brand campaign.

A dedicated website allows visitors to submit sports-related story lines explaining how WatchESPN “saved the day.” Participants can submit their WatchESPN “clutch moments” via webcam, microphone or text message.

ESPN plans to select at least 10 fan-sourced ideas and turn them into shorts created by the “Clutch Way to Watch” animators. Each will be voiced-over by the fan who came up with the respective idea. The shorts will then run on the website and YouTube, with a new one scheduled to appear each month.

According to the website, these are the “greatest clutch moments in watching as told by real people. Check out [the] video and bask in the clutchness.”

The first animated film, which ESPN said was sourced from Twitter, features Jennifer F, a senior at the University of North Carolina. In her own voice, Jennifer relates how she saved the day for herself and other UNC students.

During a spring break cruise, on-board TVs were not showing a Tar Heels-Duke basketball game. But she was able to access it via WatchESPN. UNC won, which, explained Jennifer, sent the bevy of Tar Heels’ fans into an on-deck frenzy.

Another option enables visitors to design an illustrated self-portrait using the website’s customized portrait builder, which resembles a cross between an Etch-A-Sketch and a police sketch artist’s portfolio of face options. After designing their face, wannabe Rembrandts are able to record a voice message to animate their portrait, which can then be shared with friends via social media.

According to Adriana Rizzo, senior director of marketing at ESPN, “The inspiration for this campaign came from real WatchESPN usage occasions shared by fans via Instagram and Twitter. The stories our fans have shared so far have been great, so it was only natural to get them involved in the campaign they essentially helped create.”

Brief Take: ESPN is turning its fans’ real experiences with its WatchESPN app into a clever marketing campaign that brings fans into the action.


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