Making Sport of ESPN’s Games

BaylessCronin ex-tends “The next big thing?” campaign for ESPN’s Great Outdoors Games with over-the-top exaggerations of the subject matter.

The Atlanta shop’s three television spots, conceived by creative director Jerry Cronin and partner Tim Bayless, broke last week on ESPN and ESPN2 and will run through mid-July.

The 30-second ads are parodies or “bastardizations,” said Mark Cohen, who co-wrote the spots with Jay Wallace and Brad Scheck.

Last year’s work, which included Cannes’ short-listed “Bath” and “Timber,” was about kids. The current strategy looks at what happens when the games’ contests are treated like overblown pro sports.

“Press Conference” lampoons athletes who cannot form a sentence without help. Swedish timber champion Lars Von Ericsson thanks God for trees and takes it “one log at a time.” He’s not sure what he’s going to do next, but there is talk of a Paul Bunyan movie. The spot ends with a cut to the real games: lumberjacks hacking at trees.

Shot on the Chattahoochee River in Atlanta, “Great Catch” juxtaposes the solitary sport of fly-fishing with a cheering stadium crowd.

“We always whittle the idea down to the simplest thing,” said Cohen. “What happens when, or what would you do if fishing became a sport like Nascar?”

“Lovers” targets the games’ biggest draw. Sporting dogs’ events include agility, fly ball and retrieving. In this spot, the joke is on how far enthusiasts might go to breed a faster dog. A trainer prepares a love nest for his retriever. Strains of Barry White fill the air, candles burn. The barn door is open … in hops a kangaroo.

“There was no love in the air,” said Cohen, describing the shoot. “But the dog had no problem hanging out with the kangaroo.”

The spots were directed by Sam Crawford of mom-o-rama productions in Atlanta.