Behind The ScenesSportsCenterTISC

PGA star Rickie Fowler teams with anchor John Anderson in colorful new This Is SportsCenter spot

With The Open Championship beginning today, ESPN this week unveiled “Decaf,” its latest spot from the signature This Is SportsCenter franchise. The 30-second spot stars PGA Tour stalwart and Oklahoma State University alum Rickie Fowler, in his eye-catching Sunday-of-a-tournament attire, alongside SportsCenter anchor John Anderson.

Front Row spoke with Angelo J. Mazza, manager, ESPN Marketing, about the concept behind the comical spot, which was produced when Fowler visited the Bristol, Conn. campus in February.

How did your team come up with the idea?
As with all of our This Is SportsCenter spots, our creative agency, Wieden+Kennedy New York, developed the concept. Rickie is one of the most popular golfers on the PGA Tour right now, and we were excited to shoot a script that nodded to his wacky golf attire.

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PGA stars in ‘This Is SportsCenter’ spots:

Tiger Woods (1994)
Rich Beem (2003)
Arnold Palmer (2009)
Phil Mickelson (2012)
Rickie Fowler (2013)
Jesper Parnevik (cameo)

What was Rickie’s first reaction when your team suggested the idea to him?
Rickie was all for it. He expressed that he is a fan of the This Is SportsCenter campaign, so the interest of shooting a spot with him was mutual.

How many takes did it take to nail the final spot, particularly for Rickie’s “spit takes?”
Rickie was a great actor, and that was apparent from the get-go. All in all, it took approximately 15-20 takes — and a lot of orange juice — but Rickie was a great sport and really nailed his part.

Any funny anecdotes from the shooting?
Toward the end of his time on set, [Detroit Lions wide receiver] Calvin Johnson – who was on campus that day as well – came over to say hello. To say that Calvin is a lot bigger than Rickie is quite an understatement, but it was fun to watch the two exchange greetings and pose for a picture together.

Why did you select John Anderson to appear in the ad alongside Rickie?
It’s no secret that John Anderson is a big golf fan, so that was certainly a natural tie-in. We also needed an anchor who naturally has a dry sense of humor, and would complement Rickie’s outrageous behavior in the pantry. While his role didn’t call for many speaking lines, John’s subtle reactions were spot on and hilarious. He did a fantastic job as always.

For more than 18 years, This is SportsCenter has given fans and viewers an inside peek at the Bristol campus with a humorous spin on day-to-day life at ESPN. The network has produced more than 400 advertising spots in this signature franchise in collaboration with Wieden + Kennedy.

Note: Golf News Net assembled several This Is SportsCenter spots featuring golfers.

John Anderson (L) and Rickie Fowler on set during a This is SportsCenter shoot. (Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)
John Anderson (L) and Rickie Fowler on set during a This is SportsCenter shoot. (Joe Faraoni/ESPN Images)
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