March 31, 2023

Campaign Watch: ESPN’s “Go With Your Gut”

March Madness bracket-season is upon us, and who better than ESPN to kick things off with a catchy campaign that encourages fantasy contestants to “go with your gut”. Created with independent agency BSSP, it kicked off late-February of this year across broadcast, streaming, digital, audio, and social, and is centered around three 15-second spots that poke fun at intuition-guided decision making in a charmingly human way:

  • One has a man feeling ‘Husky’ in a shirt that’s a few sizes too small.
  • Another shows a woman choosing the Fighting Irish as she’s arguing with an Irish man.
  • The third features a birdwatcher spotting a blue jay, leading her to choose the Creighton Bluejays.

With a record breaking 19 million brackets created last year and expecting 20 million this year, the brains behind this campaign are doing the opposite of what it’s tagline suggests by using actual analytics to target the ads. Their research reveals that most fan brackets are filled with these ‘from-the-gut’ hunchy feelings rather than digging through the data.

The main KPI of the campaign is measuring new-user signups and the number of brackets filled out for both the men’s and women’s tournaments year over year. Users who fill out a bracket and correctly pick the champion will be entered for a chance to win cash prizes.

ESPN is quoted to have used a few extra dollars on live-action advertising this year because of their strong brand growth and brand health metrics, and we like to hear it.   


What we like most about this campaign:

Short, 15 second spots get the concept across quickly and effectively.

The simple, gutsy tagline.

The messaging is silly and relatable, but targets a researched audience that do actually play this way.

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