ESPN has launched a new brand campaign, “Life Needs Sports,” designed to celebrate the powerful role sports play in fans’ lives.
Marking the first collaboration with Droga5, the agency hired to handle integrated strategic and creative duties for the brand, the campaign aims to acknowledge that all fans are unique, with their own vernacular, sense of humor, styles and traditions.
From the inspirational to the emotional, to the offbeat and beyond, the creative executions tap into universal sports truths and forge genuine connections with distinct fan groups, according to ESPN.
“Sports give us what we need, when we need it—inspiration, connection, escape,” Sean Hanrahan, SVP of brand and marketing solutions at ESPN, said in a statement. “[Sports] also provide relatable metaphors that help us better understand the world around us. Through the ‘Life Needs Sports’ campaign, ESPN will surprise and delight fans with unique observations and insights about sports.”
It debuted with two spots that do just that.
“Smaller” pays tribute to the many basketball players on the court who are more vertically challenged compared to some of their peers, who shine through their own unique skills. It reworks Skee-Lo’s 1995 smash hit “I Wish,” changing the lyrics from “I wish I was a little bit taller” to “I wish I was a little bit smaller,” and ends with the line “Life measures height. Sports measures heart.”
Skee-Lo performs in the video—which channels the original—along with “small ball” players such as Steph Curry, Chris Paul, Kyle Lowry and Terry Rozier, who “have defied conventional NBA height standards and inspired an entire generation of young ballers to play the game differently,” says ESPN.
“We feel now is the right time to remind people just how integral a role sports plays in our lives,” said Wanda Young, SVP, marketing and consumer engagement, in a statement. “‘Life Needs Sports’ is a sentiment that resonates with fans and will facilitate an ongoing dialogue. Only ESPN can have this authentic conversation with fans in real time across our platform. Throughout this campaign we’ll champion the collective experience and emotion of sports.”
Those strong feelings come through in ESPN’s second spot, “True Love” which shows the deep relationships MLB players have with their bats:
Additional creative will roll out in the coming weeks and months, including the WNBA focused “Bossy,” which shares a powerful message about unapologetic leadership. It will also hone in on culturally relevant moments across a variety of sports, including creative executions tied to the NBA, MLB and WNBA, as well as the Scripps National Spelling Bee, among others.
The campaign rollout includes television, digital, social, audio, print, and outdoor platforms, and it will be activated in ESPN territories around the world, including Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Caribbean, Central America, Colombia, India, South Africa and the United Kingdom.
“Life Needs Sports” is more than just a tagline, said David Droga, creative chairman and founder at Droga5.
“It’s an articulation of ESPN’s unwavering belief and underscores the brand’s purpose. This campaign connects with fans during their sports’ peak moments in a way that’s genuine and authentic.”