‘Fanwich’: A tasty promotion

NEW YORK — There are many highly creative people at ESPN, but not everyone can be named to Fast Company magazine’s list of the Most Creative People in Business.

In 2010, the honor went to John Skipper, Executive Vice President of Content, whom Fast Company recognized as the driving force behind ESPN’s coverage of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

This year, Carol Kruse, ESPN’s Senior Vice President of Marketing, was named to the list.

What did Carol receive as a 2011 creative honoree?

Not much, really, except an invitation to show just how creative she is at the magazine’s Most Creative People in Business event in SoHo onThursday.

In true ESPN style, Carol took the team approach and described to the crowd the creative process her marketing group took to develop “Fanwich,” the latest installment of ESPN’s “It’s Not Crazy, It’s Sports” brand campaign, which taps into the powerful combination of sports and food.

Carol outlined the strategy behind the “Fanwich” commercial and the integrated social media campaign that inspired culinary creativity among sports fans across the Internet and at eateries throughout the county.

What’s with the capicola, man?

No doubt you’ve seen the commercial, which shows deli workers and patrons discussing the merits of capicola for a sandwich named after Boston Red Sox star Dustin Pedroia.

And if you’re among the more than 350,000 people who “liked” the ESPN Facebook page over the last month, you’ve seen TheFanwiches.com contest.

Nearly 200 Fanwiches were entered by fans in 39 different states, garnering more than 41,000 votes in just four weeks. The winning entry will be announced Monday on ESPN’s Facebook page, with more details to come on Front Row.

The Fanwich promotion is a successful social media campaign by any measure. But more than just numbers, the contest highlights the incredible creativity among sports fans who also have a passion for good food.

To capture an example of the creativity sparked by the Fanwiches context, Carol invited Carmine Gangone of Carmine’s Pizzeria in Brooklyn to join her on stage.

Carmine told the Fast Company audience about his Fanwich entry, the “Classico Rizzuto Gold Glove,” made with imported mortadella, genoa salami, hot soppressata, fresh mozzarella and basil, roasted cherry tomatoes, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar on a homemade French baguette. Yum!

“When I was a kid, Phil Rizzuto would be broadcasting the Yankees games, and he would always talk about going home after the game to eat good Italian food,” said Carmine while waiting to join Carol.

“My sandwich is what I imagine Scooter eating after a Yankees game. It’s the perfect summer sandwich.”

While on-stage with Carol, Carmine assembled his “Classico Rizzuto” as mouths in the audience watered.

“This ESPN contest brought together sports and food, and they made it fun,” he said. “There isn’t anything better than that.”

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