ESPN Fantasy

ESPN fantasy football campaign suggests the perils of not running a league of your own

We all have that one friend who has no business running a fantasy football league: That person is hotheaded, too sensitive or too dramatic to direct matters.

With the NFL season right around the corner, it might be time to get started on your own league before that friend takes charge instead.

That’s the premise of ESPN’s fantasy football campaign, which debuted two weeks ago with three 30-second comical commercials.

The spots introduce the Commercial Actors Fantasy League, a fictional circuit featuring three cliché TV commercial personalities: Trevor, the smooth shampoo user; Roger, the sensitive allergy medicine patient; and Jeremy, the overly enthusiastic restaurant customer.

Filmed in Los Angeles during the first week of June, the ads get inside the heads of these characters. Each believes he has what it takes to be the commissioner.

“We wanted to explore the dynamics within a league as it’s just starting, but we wanted it to be a unique group,” said Howard Finkelstein, copywriter at Wieden + Kennedy New York, the ad agency that helped create the campaign. “We had fun with the notion that all the actors we see in TV commercials know one another and play fantasy together, and each guy has zero confidence in their buddies’ abilities to run the league. We all have friends we want along for the ride, but we just don’t want them driving.”

“It felt important to get all the spots out on the same day, so you could see each character’s story at the start. It’s a truly connected campaign in the way that each of the spots references the other and weaves the story between these three characters,” said Alexander Green, director of marketing at ESPN.

One of the challenges was to ensure a seamless transition between the “fake” ad and the actual fantasy football league commercial. It wasn’t a simple task when there are two filming sets to manage.

“We had two crews and two sets of equipment – so it was a little confusing to have a commercial inside a commercial, a crew shooting another crew,” Green explained. “It would get confusing whenever the actual director would talk – we would always wonder if he was speaking to the actor portraying a crew member or with someone from his actual team.”

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