Ad of the Day: ESPN

W+K paints a great little comic portrait of WatchESPN, with a cameo by Bob Ross

Headshot of Tim Nudd

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.


Client: ESPN


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

Telecine/Color Correction

Colorist: Tom Poole

Company: CO3

Post/Visual Effects (VFX)

VFX Company: Jimmy Hayhow

VFX Artist: Schmigital


Artist: Jimmy Hayhow

Company: Schmigital


Song (if applicable): Ole! (APM Music)


Mix Company: Heard City

Mixer: Philip Loeb

Producer: Gloria Pitagorsky

@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.