CLIENT: ESPN AMERICA

ESPN America is a well known brand name for anyone who has either actively played or been a fan of American football, basketball, hockey or baseball.

This British based European sports network focuses on professional and collegiate sports in the United States and Canada, and in the Czech Republic, in particular, it is known for broadcasting the ever popular National Hockey League (NHL). Although JWA is not a diehard follower of these particular sports (except for our Managing Director having a number of friends amongst the Czech hockey elite and another member of the team being a basketball nut), when ESPN approached us to help with the promotion of their coverage of a special NHL event in Prague, we were, of course, delighted to get creative and give it our best shot! Our brief was comprised of just one single goal: to ensure that the ESPN America brand received maximum exposure during the 2010 Compuware NHL Premiere event, which saw the NHL’s Boston Bruins and Phoenix Coyotes match-up against each other during two regular-season games at the O2 Arena in Prague. Whilst ESPN America is the official broadcasting partner of the NHL in Europe, the overwhelming media and public attention that the games attracted, particularly in view of the Czech hockey stars taking part and the organizers’ own promotion, could have left ESPN America a bit in the shade. JWA’s role was to look for ways to ensure that ESPN America received “its share of the pie” with regards to the attention of the national media, and, overall, to raise its awareness amongst the Czech public. JWA carried out a variety of activities, including a targeted PR campaign and promotional events that directly addressed potential ESPN America viewers and provoked a fun interaction with the brand, which overall, helped to spread the key message. For its PR campaign, JWA targeted a selection of the main national, sports, and television media. Each press release was tailored according to the type of media and all contained the key message of ESPN America as the main broadcasting partner of the event and in addition, that hockey fans could look forward to the most comprehensive coverage of the whole NHL season. The most exciting part, which also required the most work and preparation, was the coordination of a number of promotional events on the days leading up to the games. Those who go along with the saying that “bigger is better” would definitely not argue that a 2-meter ESPN America hockey puck, rolled through the streets of Prague by two bulky hockey players and accompanied by a group of charming ESPN America cheerleaders, was a pretty good way to turn a few heads. The puck rolling route was organized so that it covered most of the commercial areas around the city centre, particularly during rush hour, thereby generating the biggest amount of interaction and, of course, visibility of the ESPN America channel. This was even further aided with the distribution of promotional leaflets and Polaroid snapshot photos, which the team captured for passersby interested in posing for a picture with the puck. At the O2 arena where the games were held, JWA organized the placement of a custom designed ESPN America stand with cut out walls for fans to pose for Polaroid pictures as real NHL players. The stand invited thousands of fans present at the games to be part of the action with ESPN America. The project for ESPN America is an example of one of the less conventional activities that JWA is often approached to organise. It was, however, a challenge that we happily accepted and we would like to believe that the interest that we generated will result in the channel’s higher viewership for its broadcasting in the Czech Republic. If this is the case, then you need to prepare your cameras and be on the lookout for giant pucks during the next NHL event in Prague…