ESPN’s Silly Ode to Football’s Return; What Customers Expect of Brands: Tuesday’s First Things First

Plus, play Kentucky Derby Horse or Ad Agency

Headshot of Jess Zafarris


Welcome to First Things First, Adweek’s daily resource for marketers. We’ll be publishing the content to First Things First on Adweek.com each morning (like this post), but if you prefer that it come straight to your inbox, you can sign up for the email here.

ESPN and Celine Dion Capture the Mood of a Nation Yearning for Football

To ring in the return of the NFL season on Sept. 10, ESPN and agency Arts & Letters Creative Co. created a celebratory ad set to the tune of Celine Dion’s sweeping, inspiring and contextually silly song “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now.” Athletes, coaches, TV characters and stars mourn the long sports reprieve we’ve all been enduring before launching into a cathartic and joyful montage.

Experience the joy here.

Kentucky Derby Horse or Ad Agency: Can You Tell the Difference?

And speaking of sports, Adweek enjoyed a special celebration of our own this past weekend with our annual game, Kentucky Derby Horse or Ad Agency. Instead of taking to the streets of NYC this year, Adweek’s Jameson Fleming challenged marketing and advertising professionals to play the game via Zoom. Authentic won the Run for the Roses on Saturday, but could our participants correctly identify it as a horse?

Test your knowledge: Guess whether each of these is a Derby horse or an ad agency.

Road to Brandweek: General Mills’ Brad Hiranaga Says Consumers Have Higher Expectations of Brands Now

The role of brands has shifted, with the public expecting them to focus on “solving real, human problems and offering joy-filled solutions.” That’s what General Mills’ chief brand officer, North America Brad Hiranaga had to say when we caught up with him ahead of Brandweek. The word “authenticity” may seem overused these days, but being human, authentic and addressing challenges that consumers face enables them to build lasting connections during a stressful time when everyone needs support.

Learn what questions brands should be asking to develop a more authentic and personal marketing strategy that lends a hand.

Learn from Ryan Reynolds, Andrea Brimmer, Sadira Furlow, Dwyane Wade, Marc Pritchard, Brad Hiranaga, Julian Duncan, Katie Puris, Janey Whiteside and more during Brandweek, a fully imagined virtual experience on Sept. 14-17. Take 20% off with code FTFEDIT.

Tourism Brands Join Forces to Get People Traveling Again

It’s no surprise that the tourism industry has been on hold for the majority of this summer, which is why 70 companies that are part of the U.S. Travel Association have united to create a campaign called “Let’s Go There” that asks people to plan and book a vacation, even if it’s not immediately. The message is meant to support the industry and those who work in it following massive layoffs and the increasing risk to nearly 12.1 million jobs.

Go there: Watch the ad and learn who all is involved in the effort.

The Latest Job Moves News

  • Mary Alderete, a veteran of Gap Inc., has taken on the CMO role Alegra O’Hare departed earlier this year. She’s also rolling out her first campaign with the brand, “Stand United,” which focuses on voter participation.
  • Formerly a marketing exec at Freshly and Spotify, Mayur Gupta has been appointed as Gannett’s first chief marketing and strategy officer. In this role, Gupta will lead marketing and growth as well as building communities.
  • After almost five years with eBay, first as chief marketing officer for North America and then as vp and global CMO, Suzy Deering is leaving the ecommerce platform.
  • Target has appointed Maurice Cooper, who is formerly the executive vice president and chief growth and experience officer of Wingstop, as its newest senior vice president of marketing.
  • TV measurement company VideoAmp has hired Jonathan Steuer, former chief research officer of Omnicom Media Group, to help bring audience-based buying to television.


@JessZafarris jessica.farris@adweek.com Jess Zafarris (née Jessica Farris) is an audience engagement editor at Adweek.
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