Behind The Scenes

Texas mascot Bevo won’t lie down on job for Nissan Heisman House ad

Former University of Texas Longhorn and 1998 Heisman Trophy Award-winner Ricky Williams appears in the latest Nissan Heisman House spot set to debut on TV tomorrow. In the spot, Williams shares a bonding moment with Texas mascot, Bevo.

To produce the ad, ESPN traveled to Bevo’s home ranch in Austin, Texas back in June. ESPN Front Row caught up with Ashley Smith, senior director, ESPN CreativeWorks to learn more about Bevo’s starring role.

University of Texas mascot, Bevo

How did the shoot with Bevo come together?
We collaborated with the Nissan creative agency Chiat on the Heisman House campaign and one of the ideas centered on Bevo. Rather than travel Bevo across the country to our Heisman House location, we decided it would be easier to go to his ranch outside Austin, Texas and shoot on a green screen. Our partners at the University of Texas and our colleagues at the Longhorn Network were instrumental in providing access to this iconic collegiate mascot.

How long did the shoot take?
The shoot was scheduled to take about an hour, but it ended up lasting over eight hours. As it turns out, Bevo doesn’t take to lying down on command. It’s definitely a challenge to work with a live animal. We were completely at his whim.

What were some of the funniest moments from the experience?
We had a film crew of around 25 people sitting in a barn — watching Bevo and waiting. The handlers felt silence would lull Bevo into a comfortable state so that he might lie down. For more than 45 minutes at a given time, it was completely silent. We all just watched as he chewed grain and looked back at us with a blank stare. Ultimately, we reworked the script allowing him to stand throughout the spot.

What’s been your reaction to the overall reception of the Nissan Heisman House campaign?
We have been thrilled with how ESPN fans are enjoying a look into how Heisman winners would live together. Several have trended nationally on Twitter when they’ve debuted, so we’re pleased with the way fans have responded.

Bevo on the set. (Ashley Smith/ESPN)
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