ESPN is going straight to marketers to produce branded content and other programs. From MediaPost:
For years, ESPN has produced the well-received “This is SportsCenter” campaign — albeit with the help of Wieden + Kennedy — and now it’s forming a sort of in-house agency: ESPN CreativeWorks.
ESPN said Tuesday it will assist clients with developing creative using a tone that dovetails with ESPN’s accent. Among its goals: crafting co-branded vignettes with marketers, as well as spawning promotions that stretch across multiple screens.
CreativeWorks falls under ESPN’s sales organization, although it may call on outside agencies ESPN works with for production help, including Triple Double, Maggie Vision Productions and Phoenix Productions. No word on any Wieden involvement.
I think this could be a really good move for ESPN and other like-minded media organizations. First off, their sales departments obviously need new, non-traditional sources of revenue. But more importantly, going directly to the media source gives marketers more leeway and flexibility in terms of what’s doable. If you’re in a more formally structured ad agency and you want to pursue a cool branded content idea, there’s often an element of “we gotta check and see if we can do it” which slows down the process. Marketers may be smart to cut out the agency middlemen.