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Executive Voice: What Drives RAM Trucks’ “Built For Tailgating” Campaign In ESPN’s CFB Coverage?

Andrew Messina, SVP, Disney Advertising Sales, explores the strategy behind and success of spots featuring ESPN commentators Marty Smith, Jason Fitz and Gary Striewski

As we reach the end of college football season, fans have geared up to cheer on their favorite teams in the College Football Playoff. Their game-day rituals have included everything from watch parties to tailgating.

In a relatable, innovative and fun way, Disney CreativeWorks collaborated with RAM Truck to be in on the action as an official sponsor of college football on ESPN. Disney’s creative touch combined with special appearances from ESPN talent made for a successful campaign.

Front Row asked Andrew Messina, Senior Vice President, Disney Advertising Sales, about the storied relationship between college football on ESPN and RAM Truck.

Andrew Messina (TWDC)

When did conversations start with RAM Truck Brand on the “Built for Tailgating Creative?” 
Messina: For Disney and ESPN, “Built for Tailgating” is by far the largest single partnership we’ve executed with RAM to date. Conversations and collaboration started back in September 2020. Disney CreativeWorks is truly amazing at what they do.

Through numerous meetings, we were able to make sure the vision of both brands was executed. At Disney, we pride ourselves on innovation, and from a creative standpoint, continuing to find fresh and entertaining ways to highlight the relationship between the two brands was very important. This campaign is just another example of the quality work we can produce in-house.

What was the importance of bringing in ESPN commentators Marty Smith, Jason Fitz and Gary Striewski for the “Built for Tailgating” campaign?
Marty, Jason and Gary are all RAM Truck brand fans. Marty and Gary both own a RAM truck and were able to speak about the brand from a genuine place. They are able to take fans behind the scenes and — with a touch of humor — showcase how every RAM Truck is equipped to own the tailgate by being “game day ready.” Having the opportunity to work with talent with a personal connection to the brand adds authenticity, which resonates with college football fans allowing them to form deeper connections.

ESPN commentator Marty Smith stars in and narrates the RAM truck spots that appear in ESPN’s college football presentations this season. (ESPN)

What has been the impact on social media since the release of the “Built for Tailgating” campaign?
The “Built for Tailgating” campaign had a presence on broadcast television, and there were several social media posts from both RAM and ESPN. The success of these posts, paired with the presence of the broadcast creative, truly boosted campaign performance. Since August, RAM has seen a daily average of 54 new Twitter followers, up +64 percent from the daily average for the four months prior, a daily average of 149 shares, up +44 percent from the daily average from the four months prior, and a daily average of 9,048 Engagements, up +22 percent from the daily average from the four months prior.

Why is the RAM brand so compatible with the college football audience?
RAM needed a mass reach platform with the opportunity to grow in the automotive category. After sharing the opportunities available within college football and ESPN, the alignment quickly became a priority. Tailgating is the epicenter of the college football experience. As the worldwide leaders in sports, we aim to enhance the game-day experience in every way. This particular campaign demonstrates to fans that RAM trucks are not only built to serve, they are also a game day essential.

ESPN commentators Gary Striewski (L) and Jason Fitz make cameos in the spot. (ESPN)
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