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Buck Naked Truth: SportsCenter’s Mayne Shoots Duluth Spot In His Backyard

How did Duluth Trading and Disney Creativeworks decide to shoot new spots in this unusual location? And who's in the bear suit?

The impact of the pandemic has forced many to work from home and stay outdoors for gatherings. When it came time for ESPN and Duluth Trading to develop its latest campaign, both concepts rose to the forefront in the form of literally shooting the single-shot spots from SportsCenter anchor Kenny Mayne’s home outside in his backyard. It is just the latest example of how the Disney CreativeWorks team has turned the challenges of this unprecedented year into opportunities to deliver innovative solutions for brands.

Ricker Schlecht (SVP of Product, Visual & Creative, Duluth Trading), Jessica Weiss (Account Executive, Disney Ad Sales), Ira Fritz (Assoc. Creative Director, Disney CreativeWorks), and Mayne share details about the experience during filming, the collaboration and the creative process behind the spots.

What makes the relationship with ESPN unique from other partners and what makes the brand solutions from the CreativeWorks team so impactful?
Schlecht: Over the last three years, we have enjoyed collaborating with the ESPN team to create unique content that seamlessly integrates Duluth Trading products and our brand’s well-known sense of humor. This partnership is a great example of how we can stay true to who we are and promote key initiatives while having some fun along the way.

When did conversations start with Duluth on this particular creative and how did it adapt and evolve given the challenges of the pandemic?
Weiss: We began initial conversations in June, and it was truly a collaborative experience with Duluth, their media agency, Palisades, and our internal teams. Everyone went into the kickoff call with an open mind and an understanding that this was an unprecedented year. The team successfully navigated the hurdles of a closed set with limited personnel by coordinating virtual live feeds for in the moment client feedback as if they were on-set themselves! We are thrilled we were able to film five spots amidst the world of COVID-19. It took a great deal of flexibility, patience, and trust across all parties to get this job done and the final product was truly best in class.

Was shooting this outside always part of the plan? What goes into a single-shot production that makes it more or less challenging?
Fritz: We were transparent that the studio had production restrictions due to COVID-19, so we recommended filming these outside at Kenny’s house, which we felt aligned perfectly with their brand and took the partnership to the next level. Given the trust that the clients had developed in our team over the past few years, they leaned into this. Kenny loved the “home field advantage” you just don’t get in the studio. And, as always, he ad-libbed from take to take.

The toughest part for us is the same each time – try not to audibly laugh and screw up the take. Add on top of that a single-shot production that has its own challenges – the main one being you know right off the bat that there can be no reliance on “saving it in post.” There is no post. The best straight take wins. So that means lots of takes to make sure we have at least a few successful ones for us to choose from. It takes an enormous amount of pre-production and pre-troubleshoot planning to get what we need and to nail it.

What was the experience like doing these from home? Did you add any personal touches that made it into the spots?
Mayne: It was great working with Duluth again. They don’t seem to have any concern about us completely clowning around in these things. Just mention Duluth now and then. I decided to waive the location fee because of our deep relationship. And I put my dog in one of the spots. He gave a rich and nuanced performance. My stepdaughter played the bear role. She got $20 and free Duluth sweats – a way more lucrative deal than my dog, who did get 40 treats that night.

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