ESPN’s ‘This Is SportsCenter’ Is Back, and All but Unchanged, Post Wieden + Kennedy

Aaron Judge stars in a pair of spots timed to Opening Day

Headshot of Tim Nudd

Those who were wondering how the iconic “This Is SportsCenter” ad campaign might change or evolve after its longtime architect, Wieden + Kennedy New York, parted ways with ESPN last year, we now have our answer.

Not much.

The sports cable network on Thursday unveiled its first new “This Is SportsCenter” spots in more than a year. Created in-house by ESPN’s internal agency CreativeWorks, the ads, which star New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge, are notable mostly for how closely they hew to the campaign’s longtime formula—featuring wryly comic scenarios starring athletes, in uniform, hanging around ESPN’s Bristol headquarters.

Judge gets not one ad but two—a :30 and a :15. The :30 is set at the ESPN gym, while the :15 takes place in an office setting. See the spots here:

CreativeWorks used Hungry Man director Hank Perlman for the spots, which is a change. W+K had used Bryan Buckley and Frank Todaro, and later David Shane, over the 20-plus years for most of the approximately 400 “This Is SportsCenter” spots it made.

The gym spot is the stronger of the two new ones, with its small comic insight staying more true to the campaign’s legacy, versus the rather obvious pun in the other commercial. As far as it goes, it’s a decent return for the campaign—if surely too early to know whether ESPN will manage to keep the writing at a W+K level consistently.

We would suggest, however, that they not telegraph the jokes of the spots in the titles of the YouTube videos. It’s better not to know, for example, that a “Home Run Trot” is on the way in the gym execution.

“Home Run Trot,” which also stars ESPN anchors Elle Duncan and Scott Van Pelt, premiered in the late-night edition of SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt. Duncan will introduce “All Rise” during the Thursday edition of SportsCenter on Snapchat, a version of the show produced exclusively for the social platform.

“‘This is SportsCenter’ has always featured today’s most interesting athletes and pop-culture personalities, and Judge certainly fits that bill. Between his stellar rookie season and his natural charisma, he’s a perfect fit for this moment in time,” said Wanda Young, ESPN’s svp of marketing and consumer engagement. “While the general conceit of the campaign hasn’t changed, utilizing new platforms to get it out to our fans is an exciting shift in our approach. TISC holds a special place in fans’ hearts, and we’re looking forward to treating them to several new spots in the months ahead.”

For much more on the history of “This Is SportsCenter,” check out our lengthy piece from 2012, in which W+K’s creatives picked their 10 favorite executions from the campaign up to that point.


Carrie Brzezinski – VP, CreativeWorks
Samira Zebian – Sr. Director, Marketing Strategy
David Kraft – Director of CreativeWorks Production
Courtney Budenholzer – Production Coordinator
Jay Marrotte – Sr. Director of Creative Development
Jamie Overkamp – Creative Director
Kevin Sullivan – Senior Writer
Curtis Friends – Director of Sports Marketing
Amanda Marcotullio – Associate Manager of Sports Marketing
Chantre Camack – Director of Event Talent
Sharee Stephens – Associate Director of Event Talent
Azim Lateef – Coordinator of Event Talent
Melanie Adelberg – Director of Project Management
Summer Czajak – Assoc Director Project Management
Amy Phillips – VP of Communications
David Scott – Sr. Director of Communications
Tomas Casabal – Creative Sr. Manager International
Andre Quadra – Sr. Director International Marketing

Hungry Man:
Hank Perlman – Director
Caleb Dewart – Executive Producer
Julie Hershan – Producer
Mike Feldman – Editor
Meredith Bergman – Head of Sales / East Coast

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