Seventeen years after his untimely death from cancer at age 52, it's nice to see TV painter Bob Ross back on television, if briefly, in this amusing new ESPN commercial from Wieden + Kennedy in New York.
Not that Ross's teachings have exactly turned the woman in the spot into Picasso. As evidenced by her creations, which litter the wood-paneled walls, she is very much a work in progress—but she's determined, if nothing else, and thus is hogging the TV with her painting shows. This is where ESPN comes in. Her long-suffering husband, unable to watch his cherished SportsCenter, has discovered, from the comfort of his brown suede recliner, a wondrous invention called WatchESPN—a website that lets him watch ESPN live from his laptop. So, he doesn't need the TV after all.
Wife: "ESPN. Isn't that on TV?" Husband: "Uh, yeah, but you're always taking the TV to watch your painting shows." Wife: "Well, would you rather have all of this amazing art, or be able to watch TV?" Husband (long pause): "The art."
Ross, speaking pleasantly from the TV during the pause, takes the optimistic view. "Maybe there's a happy little cloud floating around," he says. The spot is its own happy little cloud—hilariously envisioned and nicely executed (what's the dog doing at the window?). In lesser hands, it would have had the woman watching a soap opera, or reality TV. It also manages to seem sweet despite being mildly insulting to the woman—a balance W+K strikes quite often in male-targeted ESPN work where it could easily get meatheady. Likewise the use of Ross, which could have seemed mean-spirited but instead feels almost affectionate.
With just a few brushstrokes on the canvas, W+K, like Ross, makes it look easy.
Wieden + Kennedy, New York
Creative Directors: Stuart Jennings, Brandon Henderson
Copywriter: Charles Hodges
Art Director: Gary Van Dzura
Producer: Alison Hill
Account Team: Brandon Pracht, Matthew Mauriello, Katie Jensen
Executive Creative Directors: Scott Vitrone, Ian Reichenthal
Agency Executive Producer: Temma Shoaf
Agency Head of Production: Lora Schulson
Agency Strategic Planner: Jason Gingold
Production Company: @Radical Media
Director: Steve Miller
Executive Producers: Maya Brewster, Gregg Carlesimo
Line Producer: Barbara Benson
Director of Photography: Eric Schmidt
Production Designer: Brock Houghton
Editorial Company: Mackenzie Cutler
Editor: Gavin Cutler
Post Producer: Sasha Hirschfeld
Assistant Editor: Ryan Steele
Colorist: Tom Poole
Post/Visual Effects (VFX)
VFX Company: Jimmy Hayhow
VFX Artist: Schmigital
Artist: Jimmy Hayhow
Song (if applicable): Ole! (APM Music)
Mix Company: Heard City
Mixer: Philip Loeb
Producer: Gloria Pitagorsky