ESPN’s College Basketball Championship Week is the cherry on top to ESPN’s college basketball regular season coverage. The 12-day flurry results in 46 teams punching their tickets to the men’s and women’s NCAA Tournaments, respectively.
At ESPN on Feb. 19, numerous employees collaborated on a photo shoot which would serve as Championship Week’s theme to be used as teases and bumps, both during studio programming and in game telecasts.
“The campaign goal was to transcend all men’s and women’s conference tournaments for event, studio and SportsCenter productions, unifying the Championship Week coverage and tying the themed programming together,” said coordinating producer Julie McGlone.
“The challenge was to find a campaign that was big enough to define an event, but elusive enough not to identify players, teams or colors,” senior associate producer Bryan Rourke added.
With that mindset, a think tank of 11 employees gathered and concluded Rebecca Ferguson’s “Glitter and Gold” and Parade of Lights’ “Golden” were perfect theme songs. It was also decided to cast the entire shoot – needing both basketball players and cheerleaders – with ESPN employees.
“We wanted to find people that were authentic, so all the employees we used played college basketball and the cheerleaders were all former cheerleaders at big colleges,” said post producer John Bartmon. “The beauty of that was they understood what we were trying to do. We didn’t have to explain the TV side to them.”
ESPN’s Kid Center was picked as the location, making the entire process virtually in-house. It was a one-day, 14-hour shoot. The crew finished around 2 a.m. ET.
“We got a lot done, in very little time, with a tireless and hardworking team,” Bartmon said.
As Championship Week began, the spots rolled out, allowing for all involved to see the finished product.
“Watching the first elements make air were very satisfying, knowing that a good plan, and an even better execution, looks so good on television,” Bartmon said.
ESPN’s Championship Week coverage continues through Sunday, March 15.