Behind The ScenesESPN

Chris Isenberg of artist collective No Mas on work with WatchESPN’s new ‘The Clutch Way to Watch’ campaign


ESPN introduced its newest brand campaign for WatchESPN across television and digital platforms that focuses on the heart of what WatchESPN delivers: clutch moments in sports fandom.

The campaign titled “The Clutch Way to Watch” — created in collaboration with 72andSunny — introduces viewers to Steve and Vic, avid sports fans not unlike millions of others who live for those big moments in watching sports, no matter where they are. The characters were brought to life by artist collective No Mas, an award-winning creative team that includes James Blagden and Chris Isenberg.

Front Row spoke to Chris Isenberg about their latest work with ESPN.

This actually isn’t your first project with ESPN. Your impressive portfolio of work includes animations and illustrations for the 30 for 30 films as well as Grantland. How did you approach this project differently compared to your other projects with ESPN to visually illustrate WatchESPN as “The Clutch Way to Watch”?
This is our fourth time working with ESPN: Straight Outta LA, Story Time with Jalen Rose: Stealing Patrick Ewing’s TV with VCR attachment, and You Don’t Know Bo which was illustrated by James and our mutual friend Mickey Duzyj — he’s actually the one who originally introduced me to James.

James and I first really connected with ESPN at Sundance a couple of years ago because [the No Mas film] Dock Ellis played as a short in front of [the 30 for 30 film] Winning Time, so we got to meet some great people on the ESPN Films side. We also watched the Jets lose to the Colts in the AFC Championship at the ESPN party, which was profoundly not clutch. “Clutch Way to Watch” is different because the other three projects have been documentary and this is fictional and an ad, so it’s completely different challenge with a lot of freedom. It feels like the characters we are working with, Steve and Vic, have a lot of legs so it’s going to be fun to put them in different situations as the year goes on.

What’s your definition of clutch?
1977 Reggie Jackson: clutch. 1986 Lenny Dykstra: clutch. 1994 Game 7, John Starks: not clutch.

You guys are big sports fans. Can you remember a time when you wanted to watch a game but couldn’t?
The 1996 World Series. I suffered through the Don Slaught and Mel Hall years and this should have been my reward. Instead, I was out of the country and had to watch dots move around a diamond. I didn’t see highlights until the World Series DVD came out. I’ll always regret that I didn’t get to experience that series in real time.

ESPN’s newest brand campaign for WatchESPN launches across television an digital platforms. (Photo courtesy of 72andSunny)
ESPN’s newest brand campaign for WatchESPN launches across television an digital platforms.
(Photo courtesy of 72andSunny)
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