Pop Heroes Keep It Fresh at ‘SportsCenter’

NEW YORK A slew of cultural icons will be part of ESPN SportsCenter‘s next TV campaign, including tennis star Andy Roddick, spelling bee champion David Tidmarsh and beings from a galaxy far, far away.

The campaign, via Wieden + Kennedy, New York, continues the mocumentary-style attitude that has defined ESPN’s SportsCenter efforts, with neither athlete nor in-house talent taking themselves too seriously. There will be seven new spots in all, which will begin to break this week and run through year’s end on ESPN and sibling networks, including ABC.

ESPN spent about $10 million on ads during the fourth quarter last year, per TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

Roddick is featured in two spots. In “Nickname,” he tries to find out why SportsCenter anchors no longer call him “A-Rod,” which is also an alias of New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez. In “Idle Hands,” Roddick passes time outside an office on the client’s campus with a few friends, among them ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt and the University of Massachusetts’ Minuteman mascot.

SportsCenter‘s new high-definition TV technology is the focus of “Space Anchors,” which sees ESPN hiring a more tech-oriented staff to run the programming, including Star Wars‘ R2D2, Darth Vader, Chewbacca and a Storm Trooper. Van Pelt needs help in “Spelling Bee” when he gets stumped on an athlete’s name. Fortunately, National Spelling Bee champ David Tidmarsh is there to save the day.

Other spots include “Accent,” in which soccer star Heather Mitts and SportsCenter‘s Linda Cohn are enthralled with boxer Lennox Lewis’ British accent; and “Expansion Team,” which finds the cable network putting some of its anchors into an expansion draft to help recent arrival ESPN Deportes add to a talent roster of Fernando Palomo, Michele LaFountain and Ciro Procuna.

“This campaign will always have life because it lives off the changes that are happening around us,” said Lee Ann Daly, executive vice president of marketing. “The coolest thing is that we have this incredible cast of cultural heroes helping to keep it fresh and creative.”