May 15, 2007 6:30 PM
On Disney day at the upfront, ESPN decided to do its own “High School Musical.”
At the Nokia Theater on Broadway, the worldwide leader in sports put on a show to not-so-subtly show how the multiple platforms of ESPN can provide a marketing push to a brand. The upfront show may have marked a first, with the sport of curling being rapped about as part of a skit telling the story of a basketball phenom who risks millions of sneaker sales to pursue his dream of grabbing a broom and getting into full-contact curling.
At one point in the show, the action stopped as a sports agent character had to be re-named. Donna Wolfe chief negotiation officer of Universal McCann, sitting courtside, provided a business card, and became branded herself.
It was a bit much, even for the folks at ESPN.
“We’re looking to break new ground in pandering,” said John Skipper, ESPN’s executive VP for content. “Ed Erhardt leads the way,” he said, referring to ESPN’s president of consumer marketing and sales.
Also taking part in the production were tennis star Venus Williams and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNab.