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Year Two of ESPN’s College Football Playoff “Who’s In?” Campaign Launches with Spot Featuring Ohio State University’s Urban Meyer


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The college football season is fast approaching and 128 teams again set their sights on reaching the College Football Playoff – taking place this year on New Year’s Eve. ESPN introduces “The Message” to kick off the second year of the College Football Playoff. The spot features Ohio State University’s head coach Urban Meyer, whose team has the most at stake as the defending National Champion. 

In the commercial, Meyer delivers an impassioned message, warning Buckeye nation that the entire college football community is preparing to dethrone them. The vignettes showcase a wide array of traditions, metaphors and mascots representing 30 of the 128 eligible schools as they prepare for another playoff season.

“Year two of the ‘Who’s In?’ campaign builds on year one, tapping into the fervor of 127 schools to unseat the Buckeyes,” said Aaron Taylor, senior vice president of marketing. “The Playoff introduced a new era in American sports. This year the campaign builds towards a new destination for the semi-finals — New Year’s Eve — which will become a new sports holiday.”

The schools and symbolism represented in the spot include, in order of appearance:

  • A real “crimson tide,” symbolizing the University of Alabama.
  • The University of Oregon Duck hosting a dinner party alongside several other mascots, with an “Eat Your Enemies” neon sign, a replica of one that hangs in Oregon’s athlete cafeteria.
  • Texas Christian University and Baylor University’s rivalry is symbolized in a long road of TCU-branded bear traps ready to intercept the Baylor Bears. The Fort Worth sign notes the short distance between the two schools.
  • The Michigan State Spartan phrenology bust symbolizes the obsession with winning and the plot to reverse last season’s losses against Oregon and Ohio State.
  • The Auburn University War Eagle makes an appearance in an animated scene which combines the school’s mascot with the tradition of papering Toomer’s Corner, dropping rolls on Texas A&M University’s Kyle Field, where the team hopes to avenge last year’s loss.
  • Louisiana State University’s popular tiger mascot, Mike VI, appears with his sights set on the National Championship Trophy.
  • A chess board painted with the University of Tennessee’s iconic end zone design has them facing off against longtime rivals, the University of Georgia.
  • University of Southern California’s fans drag a massive Trojan horse to Rose Bowl stadium – a nod to the long standing cross-town rivalry with University of California, Los Angeles.
  • A khaki army represents Jim Harbaugh’s inaugural season as the head coach at his alma mater, the University of Michigan, and his quest to prove himself on a new playing field.
  • A wall of Mississippi State cowbells denotes the ubiquitous and distinctive sound heard at every MSU game.
  • The University of Notre Dame is represented by fans painting their shaved heads gold to mimic the signature golden dome as well as the team’s iconic helmets.

The final scene showcases several mascots lurking in the shadows, ready to make their move.  They include:   University of Arkansas’ Big Red, The Baylor Bear, Boise State University’s Buster Bronco, Clemson University’s Tiger, University of Florida’s Albert, Mississippi State’s Bully, University of Georgia’s Hairy Dawg, Georgia Institute of Technology’s Buzz, University of Kentucky’s Wildcat, University of Missouri’s Truman the Tiger, University of Nebraska-Lincoln’ s Herbie Husker, University of Oklahoma’s Boomer, The Oregon Duck, University of Mississippi’s Rebel Black Bear, University of South Carolina’s Cocky, UCLA’s Joe Bruin, Vanderbilt University’s Mr. Commodore and University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Bucky the Badger.

“Who’s In?” is created in collaboration with creative agency Wieden + Kennedy New York. Several more spots as well as digital, print and social elements will run through the crowning of the National Champion in January 2016.

ESPN will have exclusive coverage of the College Football Playoff beginning with the 2015-2016 season and featuring the four top teams as selected by the College Football Playoff Selection Committee.



TV SPOT:  ESPN – College Football Playoff – The Message (:60/:30/:15)


SYNOPSIS OF SPOT Year 2 of the CFP era is here, and everyone has their sights set on the champs, the Ohio State Buckeyes, but their head coach has a message for the OSU faithful.
CLIENT CONTACT Aaron Taylor, Scott Parker, Emeka Ofodile, Ryan Anderson, Erin Thornton, Willis Hulings, Maggie Davis


Executive Creative Directors David Kolbusz, Jaime Robinson
Creative Directors Brandon Henderson, Caleb Jensen, Erwin Federizo
Creatives Will Binder, Andy Dao
Executive Producer Temma Shoaf
Producer Luiza Naritomi
Head of Integrated Production Nick Setounski
Account Team Mike Welch, Joe Morelli
Project Manager Kristin Daly
Business Affairs Manager Keri Rommel
Head of Business Affairs Sara Jagielski
Traffic Sonia Bisono, Rylee Millerd


Production Company MJZ
Director Joaquin Baca-Asay
Executive Producer Emma Wilcockson
Producer Lalou Dammond


Editorial Company Bikini Editorial
Editor Avi Oron
Assistant Editor Gus Roman
Post Producer Ruganzu Howard
Post Executive Producer Gina Pagano
End Card Animation Inti Martinez


VFX Company The Mill
Executive Producer Jeremy Moore
Producer Andrew Hamill
Creative Director Mike Schaeffer
2D Lead and Flame artist Chris Sonia
Nuke Artist Rob Meade
VFX Supervisor Tony Robins
Designer Lizzi Akana, Sean Latrell, Clemens Den Exter
3D Tracking Katie Schiffer, Paul Liaw, Kevin Ives


Music Co Original Music by Human
Sound Designer Kip Smedley
Creative Director Stephen Dewey
Executive Producer Patty Chow Dewey


Mix Company Sonic Union
Mixer Steve Rosen
Managing Director Adam Barone
Producer Melissa Tanzer


Color Company The Mill
Colorist Fergus McCall
Color Producer Liz Hurd