As I read the news this week that Wieden and Kennedy and ESPN were parting ways after a 25 year partnership, I kept thinking, “follow me, follow me to freedom”. W+K was responsible for the long running “This is SportsCenter” campaign, among other great work for ESPN. The campaign, which began in 1994, mixed sports, celebrity, and a behind-the-scenes look at the high-rated sports news program.
“Follow me to freedom” comes from one of my favorite spots in the campaign. In this spot, SportsCenter’s production team engages in a Y2K test. Things don’t go well, and in seconds, alarms sound, the lights go out, athletes loot the place. Mark McGwire takes a baseball bat to a computer. Jonathan, the University of Connecticut mascot, a dog, absconds with some awards. The show’s announcers read highlights by candlelight.
When Arnold Palmer died on Sunday at the age of 87, he left behind a rich legacy. He was a successful golfer, a charismatic ambassador of the sport, and a pioneer in the field of sports marketing and endorsements, a man with an eponymous drink.
Fellow golfers called him the King. From 1958 to 1964, he was an incredibly dominant player, and the face of golf in the US. He won seven majors and had 62 total victories on the PGA tour. His good looks, charming personality, and success on the course grew the game’s popularity immensely in that time. He was locked in a three way rivalry with Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player in most of that era, but tended to have the crowds supporting him. The legions were called Arnie’s Army.