The Games Begin for ESPN

LOS ANGELES ESPN has unveiled a campaign to promote its College GameDay football program, the company said.

The effort for the Bristol, Conn.-based cable network, created by Ground Zero in Marina del Rey, Calif., is intended to celebrate the passion and pageantry of college football. It features the line, “You gotta step it up.”

The campaign, which breaks next week, is based on the premise that universities are doing whatever they can to gain attention from the program. Five 30-second TV spots show unorthodox examples of the events that could occur leading up to a Saturday game. “Band” features the University of Southern California marching band incorporating flaming instruments into its routine. “Drills” shows the University of Georgia demonstrating that blocking dummies and tires are not enough for practices; it adds alligator wrestling. And “Van” presents college students kidnapping the opposing football team’s offensive coordinator since making off with the mascot is not enough.

The spots will run on ESPN and EPSN2. Print ads will also appear in ESPN The Magazine and radio will air on ESPN Radio.

Overall, ESPN spent $35 million on ads in 2002 and $20 million through May of this year, per TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

Ground Zero copywriter Tom O’Connor and art director Jeff Lable created the campaign. Tom De Cerchio of Incubator directed the TV spots.

GameDay will present its first road show this season on Aug. 30 from Columbus, Ohio. The program runs every Saturday during football season.