X Games

X Games and Austin, Texas: Kindred spirits as evidenced in new promotional spots

EDITOR’S NOTE: Andrew Barge, the author of this post, is a brand marketing manager at ESPN.

The X Games runs June 5-8 in its new summer home of Austin, Texas. X Games Austin represents an invasion of the biggest event in action sports into one of America’s most unique cities.

It’s a defining moment for X Games as the event is transformed into a four-day festival of action sports, music, gaming and youth culture.


Excitement around this inaugural year in Texas stems from obvious parallels between X Games in Los Angeles and its new host city. Austin, much like action sports, takes significant pride in its distinct, alternative personality. It’s fun, artistic, and outspokenly embraces its own weirdness.

Working with Wieden + Kennedy New York, ESPN Marketing embraced this notion and saw an exciting creative opportunity for marketing spots. The result is evident in the two-minute trailer above, parts of which will be seen on ESPN TV Networks as 15- and 30-second spots beginning May 26.

“Let the best athletes in the world turn Austin into their playground,” said Vice President of Consumer Marketing Scott Parker. “We want to offer fans a glimpse of the creativity and entertainment they can expect starting June 5.”

Effectively conveying X Games and Austin as kindred spirits would require an ambitious production, one that showcased the broad range of athletes and local sites available.

For athletes, ESPN Marketing landed on nine total:

  • Four skateboarders (Nyjah Huston, Ishod Wair, Curren Caples, Mitchie Brusco);
  • two BMX riders (Ryan Nyquist, Chase Hawk);
  • two Moto X riders (Nate Adams, Josh Hansen); and
  • one Rally Car driver (Ken Block).

With this roster, the spot was shot at several iconic Austin locations to ensure an authentic campaign feel. Notable locations included the iconic “Greetings from Austin” mural, the Congress Avenue Bridge, Gourdough’s Big Fat Donuts, Franklin Barbecue, the 9th Street dirt jumps, and the Bullock Texas State History Museum.

Covering nine athletes and over seven locations made this shoot very unique. ESPN’s creative friends at W+K NY mapped out a few crazy ideas associated with each place, including Adams riding a wheelie across an entire bridge and Ken Block burning “doughnuts” around a giant prop doughnut.

And since X Games athletes tend to be up for anything, each was willing and excited to give us his best effort.

The campaign served as one of the biggest, most ambitious productions in the brand’s lengthy history. And the end result showcases Austin as the perfect new home for the X Games.

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