ESPN Consumer Marketing puts much thought and creativity into its weekly Monday Night Football topical spots. These are the 15 and 30-second ads that air throughout each week promoting the upcoming game.
While ESPN uses NFL Films footage of the teams and notable players who will be part of the matchup, each ad has a distinct theme and tone. Key storylines are often highlighted with the use of popular music, secured by the ESPN Music department.
This week’s Houston Texans-Denver Broncos game (Monday: 8:15 p.m. ET) features a key storyline – quarterback Brock Osweiler returning to Denver to face the team he won a Super Bowl with a year ago as Peyton Manning’s back-up. When Manning retired, Osweiler turned down a free agent contract offer from the Broncos and signed with Houston.
Coordinator Claire Miller discusses how ESPN Marketing incorporated that storyline into this week’s MNF spot and how her team prepares for each week’s game.
How did Brock Osweiler’s return to Denver shape your approach for this week’s MNF promo?
We knew we wanted to reference this in some way within our promotion for the game, and ultimately decided it was deserving of its own TV spot. Given the storyline, we wanted to tap into the construct of a break-up video and try and have some fun with it.
What made you choose Third Eye Blind’s “How’s It Going to Be” as the music?
It’s a breakup song that we thought tied in nicely. The fun sentimentality of the song pairs perfectly with the footage we used and the lyrics literally help pose the question: “How’s it going to be” for the Broncos and the Texans in this game now that Brock is the QB on a new team?
How does ESPN Marketing create the weekly MNF spots?
When the MNF schedule comes out in April, we immediately start thinking of storylines to include in our spots. We’ve had this idea for a while – it was then a matter of picking a song that would work well with it.
In season, every Wednesday we meet with our creative team to review a rough cut that promotes the following week’s game. During that meeting, we’ll make final decisions on music and the shot selection.
There are actually two spots this week. How common is that?
We usually only have one TV spot per week, unless we feel there is a second storyline deserving of its own spot. Last year we had success with this strategy using two Bills-Patriots MNF promos. We used the song “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” to highlight the Rex Ryan-Bill Belichick rivalry and a more football-centric spot about the division rivalry.
In addition to Brock’s return to Denver, the Broncos are the defending Super Bowl champs and, as a result, each team they face gives them their best game. We felt like it was also important to tee up the game in this way to help get fans even more excited to watch MNF. Featuring stars on the two teams, like [Broncos linebacker] Von Miller, and pairing that footage with a great track – “Nobody Speak” by DJ Shadow featuring Run the Jewels – felt like the best way to accomplish this [see video below].
Can you tease some of the other ideas you have in the weeks ahead?
The Bills-Seahawks MNF game on Nov. 7 is the night before the election. With that in mind, we have something special in store for those promos. That spot starts airing during the Vikings-Bears game on Halloween.