As New Orleans celebrates Mardi Gras this week, Front Row reflects on one of ESPN’s more memorable This is SportsCenter commercials.
Stuck featured New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees riding a custom-build Mardi Gras float through the ESPN parking lots. “Angry” anchors Stan Verrett and Chris McKendry were stuck in the bumper-to-bumper traffic.
“The whole time we were shooting the spot, Stan and I kept asking, ‘Why would we be in a car together?’ It is so random that it adds to the humor,” McKendry said.
“I’ve heard so much about the eye roll I gave Stan as he kept honking, but the truth is, I didn’t remember doing it until I saw the finished commercial!”
ESPN’s Marketing team approached its creative agency, Wieden+Kennedy, with the idea of using Brees to highlight the Mardi Gras celebration. The agency ran with that central idea, deciding ultimately to have Brees block traffic with an enormous, authentic parade float.
“I don’t recall anything out of the ordinary, except for the obvious preposterousness of a Mardi Gras float attempting to get through the gates on the Bristol campus,” said Seth Ader, Senior Director of Sports Marketing.
In the spirit of full disclosure, the crew actually filmed near the hill leading to Buildings 11, 12 and 13 — not the main gate to the ESPN campus.
The spot kicked off the opening of the NFL season in 2007 — years before Brees strolled through New Orleans on a Mardi Gras float of his own to celebrate a Super Bowl victory for the Saints.