ESPN: Promoting 'Face' Value

Launches social campaign with Twitter, returns popular '30 for 30' series
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ESPN wants to see its viewers' "Game Face." That will be a big part of the network's collaboration with Twitter on a social media campaign set to begin in June. The partnership will develop interactive programs -- co-created by ESPN and Twitter -- to be promoted across Twitter, ESPN networks and ABC and ESPN's digital assets, including ESPN.com and ESPN Mobile.

The first program, titled "GameFace," will kick off during next month's NBA Finals. Integrated throughout the live broadcasts on ABC and ESPN's NBA studio program NBA Tonight, the initiative will ask fans to tweet their "game face" (using the #gameface hashtag), and NBA Tonight will ultimately unveil their favorites. At the conclusion of the Finals, analyst Jalen Rose will tweet his top five faces, with the best one receiving a tour of ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn.

"Working together, ESPN and Twitter are giving marketers a clear and powerful way to link on-air and online social conversations around sports," said Joel Lunenfeld, Twitter VP of global brand strategy. "It's the first time advertisers can engage the audience around ESPN's premier content across screens, and where the conversation is happening on Twitter."

The social media campaign will also include the Global X Games, the road to the BCS NCAA football championship, the Super Bowl, World Series and NCAA's men's basketball tournament.

ESPN also said last week that ESPN Films will return the popular 30 for 30 series of documentaries. The first iteration featured collaborations with directors including Peter Berg, Berry Levinson and Ice Cube; 30 for 30 Vol. II will premiere in October.

"30 for 30 was conceived as a finite collection, and when the original series ended in December of 2010 with Pony Excess, we had underestimated the strength of the connection fans had made between sports documentaries and the 30 for 30 brand," said Connor Schell, VP of ESPN Films. "We're proud to have created a brand that has become synonymous with quality sports storytelling, and we see value in bringing back a second collection of 30 films."

In addition, a series of digital short films, under the title 30 for 30 Shorts, will run on the network's offshoot Website, Grantland.com. A new short film will debut each month, beginning in September. Grantland editor-in-chief Bill Simmons who serves as executive producer for the 30 for 30 series will host podcasts with each of the filmmakers as well.

Grantland will also launch a YouTube channel this summer.

In celebration of the 40th anniversary of Title IX, ESPN Films will premiere Nine for IX, a series of docu-films about women in sports. Films will air on ESPN in primetime and ABC on Saturdays beginning in summer 2013. Last week, the network started another weekly series in honor of Title IX, In the Game With Robin Roberts, which will feature the ABC Good Mornning America anchor interviewing prominent female athletes. The series will air Thursdays inside SportsCenter during the 9 a.m.-12 p.m. ET hours. The series will also run across espnW.com and ABCNews.com.

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