ICYMI: The week on Front Row; PLUS How ESPN’s real-time digital billboards kept fans in the know

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With the recent launch of SportsCenter’s DaDaDa DaDaDa ad campaign, which focuses on the iconic sound all fans associate with great sporting moments, ESPN’s marketing team developed outdoor digital billboards that could be updated in real time to drive fans to SportsCenter for breaking news and highlights.

From Sept. 25 to Oct. 13, 261 unique ad “executions” were developed and distributed across 234 billboards throughout New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, each portraying some of the most noteworthy and topical moments in sports as they happened.

Featuring the headlines “That’ll be on SportsCenter” or “DaDaDa DaDaDa,” moments highlighted included the U.S.’s come-from-behind win at the America’s Cup and legendary pitcher Mariano Rivera’s retirement. Each board was updated approximately four times per day and tailored with news specific to each market’s sports teams.

“The idea came from working closely with our media team to further extend the ‘DaDaDa’ campaign in a way that would allow us to be topical around the biggest sports conversations in real time,” said Brian Harmer, associate director of sports marketing at ESPN, involved in the initiative. “Knowing the flexibility of the digital out-of-home medium, unlike traditional out- of-home where you get one message for the duration of the flight as it printed, this execution allowed us to celebrate those unique stories at any time, any day.”

According to Harmer, the process of selecting the topic, developing the visuals and having the billboard up across each market took about one hour, depending on the execution. It would start with ESPN’s branding team, who would monitor all sports news throughout the day to determine the most popular sports stories in the news, with each market in mind.

After a topic was chosen, the same team would create the visuals for the execution and distribute it to the appropriate vendors throughout the country.

“More than 40 people across the branding, media and creative services teams touched the campaign at various stages,” Harmer said. “Everyone really stepped it up and volunteered to work additional hours to cover the different shifts every day.”

One of the most challenging nights of the campaign was Oct. 10, when the Chicago Bears beat the New York Giants, the Minnesota Lynx won the WNBA title and the Detroit Tigers clinched their ALDS series against the Oakland Athletics, all within a 30-minute window.

“It was really exciting for me and many others to see the boards during our commute,” Harmer said.

By Ana Livia Coelho

ICYMI: Highlights from the past week on Front Row

• This week’s Throwback Thursday paid tribute to the art of improvising. See just how far ESPN’s sideline camera set-ups have evolved.

• John Spano, reclusive subject of the new 30 for 30 doc ‘Big Shot,’ explains why he participated in film. Also, ESPN anchors share their takes on the new documentary.

• This past Saturday on ESPN, Chesney McMurphy joined her father, ESPN College Football Insider Brett McMurphy, during his “10 at 10 Of” picks segment for SportsCenter.

John Anderson asks Lindsay Czarniak “Pick 6” questions, a variation on the SportsCenter interview segment she normally conducts weekly with NFL stars.

Row of Four
Our favorites from across ESPN over the past week

• From Rick Reilly: Sam Berns’ story moved us all

• From Christina Kahrl: Sizing up the best World Series Web Gems

• From Ombudsman Robert Lipsyte: ESPN missteps should be teachable moments that help move beyond the “good ol’ boy” days

• Enjoy an array of photos from the ESPN Images’ Images of the Week

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