With the college football season yet to start, ESPN is hyping the inaugural NCAA football playoffs and championship game among the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) teams. It has just launched the “Who’s In” ad.
Created by longtime partner Wieden+Kennedy, the ad hopes to receive one of four available playoff spots reaching fans of 23 of the 126 BCS teams. While Duke, Tulane and Georgia State merit less attention than Ohio State and Louisiana State, the message is that everyone who follows college football should be paying attention. The network needs them to.
ESPN is paying $470 million to the NCAA each year through 2025 for the exclusive television, radio, streaming and international rights to the year-end bowl games that will decide the top college football team. Recouping that $7 billion investment requires attracting advertisers who are willing to pay well to reach large audiences of college graduates and young adults.
Now in preseason hype mode, ESPN actually began educating viewers in June about the coming BCS Championship.
An earlier W+K spot featured actor Sean Astin reprising his Rudy character to inform and inspire fictional Notre Dame teammates about the football playoff selection process and game schedule. A W+K representative told AdFreak, “Our campaign is all about fans’ excitement for the inaugural college football playoff season. Rudy is not only one of the biggest icons of college football, but he’s also one of the sport’s biggest fans. His passion for the game is representative of the passion of all college football fans.”