Los Angeles — What do you get when you are preparing for the biggest sports network launch in history and you’re televising what likely will be the most-watched sports event of the summer? A golden opportunity.
That’s what FOX Sports Co-Presidents and COOs Randy Freer and Eric Shanks saw when they commissioned FOX Sports marketing chief Robert Gottlieb to create a rare 90-second promotional spot that would define for America the essence of FOX Sports 1, the nation’s new sports network, launching on August 17. The spot premieres in-game during FOX Sports’ coverage of the 2013 Major League Baseball All-Star Game on Tuesday, July 16. The MLB All-Star Game is traditionally the highest-rated, most-watched television program in July and August in non-Olympic years. Pregame coverage on FOX begins at 7:30 PM ET.
Enlisting the help of powerhouse HSI Productions and highly sought director Joseph Kahn (http://josephkahn.com/bio), a Grammy Award-winner who has worked with dozens of A-list artists from Lady Gaga to Eminem, as well as directing award-winning commercials, a concept was designed with one solitary goal — define FOX Sports 1.
“This spot really is about introducing FOX Sports 1 to America, and letting fans know what they can expect come August 17,” Gottlieb said. “We recognize that sports ultimately is about the fun of loving your team and hating your rival. It’s about the fun of buzzer beaters, comebacks and huge hits. That is what we, as fans, look for in our favorite sports. Because fourth-and-goal with the game on the line may just be the most fun you have all year. So, this spot is about celebrating what only sports provides. The fun of anticipation … the fun of competition … the fun of celebration.”
Building a production team that includes two-time Academy Award nominee Jeff Cronenweth (The Social Network, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) as director of photography, sports choreographer Mike Fisher (http://www.mikefisheronline.
Major facilities — Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Gillette Stadium, Los Angeles Sports Arena, The Galen Center and Comerica Park — provide the backdrop.
Star athletes and sports personalities who have agreed to participate include Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco; former heavyweight boxing champ Mike Tyson; four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon; U.S. Women’s Soccer Olympic gold medalist Alex Morgan; UFC champion Georges St. Pierre; boxing champ Canelo Alvarez; NFL Pro Bowl linebacker Patrick Willis; USC head football coach Lane Kiffin; Georgetown basketball coach John Thompson III, St. John’s basketball coach Steve Lavin, NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne; and reigning American League MVP Miguel Cabrera.
“Using any measure, this is the most ambitious commercial project we have taken on,” Gottlieb said. “This spot sets the tone for everything.”
The shoot, set to an energized version of the classic tune Happy Days are Here Again, opened in Charlotte, N.C., where Gordon and Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Kasey Kahne, worked with a 150-person production crew, dozens of extras and a few high-tech toys to re-create the intense on-track action of a 200-mph NASCAR race.
“You never know what to expect when doing something like this,” Gordon said of the shoot. “Things come together fast and they can change at the last second … it definitely takes you out of your element. You’ve got to be open-minded to what the director or the script may call for and have fun with it.”
Trailed by a tricked-out black Mercedes SUV equipped with the Ultimate Arm (http://www.ultimatearm.com/) and filmed from above by a high-speed, drone helicopter equipped with a Blackmagic cinema camera, racing action is captured from angles never before seen on race day.
Two days later, the entire production team moved nearly 900 miles north, setting up a shoot at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., with Morgan, who scored the game-winning goal in the 123rd minute against Canada, sending the U.S. team to the gold medal game against Japan at the 2012 London Olympics.
Following Foxboro, production moved to Los Angeles for several days before wrapping in Detroit.
“I’m putting on a different hat today … from being the guy giving the orders, to being the guy receiving the orders,” Thompson said. “I haven’t worn that hat in a while but [Joseph Khan] had control of the situation and it was much like a practice, where we had to run the same scene over and over and over again … he’s a perfectionist and that’s a good thing.”
Added Flacco: “It should be fun, and that’s what it’s all about out here … we’re having fun and we’ll see where it goes.”
An extended behind the scenes look at the making of FOX Sports 1 promotional spot is available on FOX Sports’ YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?
— FOX SPORTS 1 —
About FOX Sports 1
FOX Sports 1 is a new national 24-hour multi-sport channel launching on August 17 in over 90 million homes, marking the largest sports network launch in history. FOX Sports 1, boasting nearly 5,000 hours of live event, news and original programming annually, has seven pillar sports: college basketball and football, MLB (in 2014), NASCAR, NFL (ancillary programs), soccer and UFC. College football is highlighted by regular season coverage of Big 12, Pac-12 and Conference USA games, while the college basketball spotlight shines on the Big East, Big 12, Pac-12 and Conference USA and the Big East men’s basketball tournament. Starting in 2014, select MLB League Championship Series and Division Series games as well as regular season games are coming to the channel. FOX Sports 1 also carries select NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events beginning in 2015; NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races; the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race; and all Speedweeks coverage, including Daytona 500 Qualifying, Sprint Unlimited at Daytona, (2014, 2017-22) the Budweiser Duel, and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NCWTS Practice and Qualifying sessions. Additionally, FOX Sports 1 carries NASCAR RaceDay, NASCAR Victory Lane and Race Hub shows. The channel also carries the world’s most prolific club soccer competitions, like UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and CONCACAF Champions League, along with the world’s oldest soccer competition, the FA Cup; plus CONCACAF Gold Cup; CONCACAF Qualifiers, EURO 2016 Qualifiers; 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers; FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2015 and 2019; FIFA Men’s World Cup in 2018 and 2022. In addition to Saturday pay-per-view preliminary cards, Wednesday nights are home to the UFC with UFC TONIGHT, live events and THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER. FOX SPORTS LIVE is FOX Sports 1’s flagship 24/7 news, opinion and highlights program, providing around the clock coverage through regularly scheduled programs, hourly updates and an information rich ticker. Original programs include: FOX FOOTBALL DAILY, CROWD GOES WILD, a new live sports entertainment talk show hosted by Regis Philbin; and the groundbreaking BEING: documentary franchise. FOX Sports GO, a groundbreaking authenticated mobile sports experience for iPhone, iPad, Android devices and the web, serves as the channel’s digital extension. The app offers more than 1,100 live games and events from cross FOX Sports, FOX Sports 1 and FOX Sports’ 22 regional sports networks, as well as scores, highlights, news, stats and analysis. For more information visit www.FOXSports.com/FOXSports1.