With the college football season fast approaching, 128 teams set their sights on reaching the College Football Playoff, taking place this year on New Year’s Eve. To kick off Year 2, ESPN introduced “The Message,” featuring Ohio State’s head coach – and former ESPN analyst – Urban Meyer, whose team arguably has the most at stake as the defending national champion.
Created in collaboration with creative agency Wieden + Kennedy New York, the commercial showcases Meyer delivering an impassioned warning to the Buckeye nation. The video also introduces various traditions, metaphors and mascots representing 30 of the 128 eligible schools.
Front Row spoke with Wieden + Kennedy’s creative Will Binder, who was one of the writers of the spot, on some of the intricacies behind it:
How did your team come up with the concept for this spot?
Every team is building on the legacy of last year. We wanted to capture this new heightened intensity. We thought about some of the classic, iconic school traditions and what those would look like in a heightened world. Ultimately we wanted to take these old standards of college football fandom and portray them in new and exciting ways.
How did you select the schools represented?
We looked at some of the most famous traditions and symbols that the casual fan should be familiar with. We also looked at teams who we thought would be right there in the mix this season, like Baylor [University] and TCU [Texas Christian University]. Of course having Coach Meyer and OSU play a big role was a no-brainer.
How long did it take from start to finish?
We started thinking about the theme of Year 2 as early as February. Once we arrived at this idea of “redemption and revenge,” we spent a lot of time figuring out how to tell this story in a unique way that would get fans excited.
How did the Notre Dame scene work? What did you use to spray the actors’ heads?
We used a special body paint that could easily be wiped off, which was necessary as we did many takes of this scene.
What was the process of creating the chess board?
The director, Joaquin Baca-Asay, and his team did an incredible job melding together miniature models and live action. The chess board was customized for this shoot.