NEW YORK – This morning in Broadway’s Minskoff Theater, ESPN is hosting its 2015 Upfront, where an impressive lineup of ESPN executives and talent, mascots and surprise guests will showcase the network’s marquee programming to an audience of 1,300 guests.
This year’s show will be titled “The ESPN Impression,” a culmination of the company’s messaging about the extensive value and scale it provides to advertisers. Attendees will see ESPN’s vision of where the marketplace is going and what it has to offer to better serve sports fans and brands.
“Our goal is to give our attendees an ‘authentic ESPN experience’ during the hour that they share with us,” said Senior Director of Sales Communications, ESPN, Dan Hadel, who has overseen the production of the show for the past nine years.
Front Row spoke with Hadel about his experience being a part of the event and some of the highlights of this year’s presentation:
Which Upfront presentation would you say was your favorite?
In 2007, we put ourselves in a leadership position by moving our presentation to the “Broadway stage.” We also moved our timing to when the biggest [Upfront] presentations occur – the second week of May, which was traditionally reserved for the broadcast networks. We’ve always been a hot ticket since then and every year we’ve raised the bar.
What is the process to develop the show and what are the biggest challenges?
The process starts in December, with production meetings to determine the overall show approach, its thematic and tone. Crunch time hits in mid-March, as we get heavily immersed in writing, talent decisions, and production.
The biggest challenge is keeping track of all the tiny details that can have a big impact if forgotten. That said, we’ve got a fantastic team that makes sure nothing falls through the cracks. We look forward to this collaboration every year as it taps into the deep knowledge and creativity of all these teams. It makes the process both an exciting and rewarding.
SportsCenter anchor Kenny Mayne has always been a comical part of the show throughout the years. How did the idea for this year’s video (see above) come about?
Kenny has been with us for eight years — he’s almost like a part of the core [Upfront] team. Kenny is fantastic to work with from both a personality and creative standpoint. Once we give him a theme, he comes to the table with tons of ideas. This year his conceit was poking fun at all the buzz around Big Data. He wanted to take this often confusing and complex topic and see what kids would make of it. The shoot was great fun and he fit right in with the kids.