For nearly two decades, ESPN has been extending its flagship brand, SportsCenter, beyond the studio, giving us a peek inside the offices where the proverbial magic happens. Merging the world of sports with cubicle life, “This is SportsCenter” has something for everyone – mascots, athletes, TV personalities, retired athletes, other mascots and so on. The series has become nearly as recognizable as the name it is promoting, and with Wieden+Kennedy New York at the helm, its popularity should come as no surprise. (W+K is, of course, unstoppable.)
With all of the crazy stories coming out of Bristol recently (Connecticut, not Palin. Heyo!), it has become difficult to distinguish whether the fictionalized version of the Worldwide Leader is more entertaining than the real one. Nonetheless, not even the creeped out, nauseous feeling you may experience from being exposed to Chris Berman, Tony Kornheiser and Stuart Scott can diminish the greatness of TiSC; mainly because those network puppets don’t show up in the commercials. Whether through a TV screen or book screen, life at ESPN appears more interesting than your typical office (because it is).
Since the campaign is filled with memorable spots, along with the fact that the Internet doesn’t need another “Best of” list, let’s imagine what “This is SportsCenter” might look like translated into a setting resembling Initech.
LT’s Mail Room
What would this look like in the real world? Sorting parcels in the mail room of Average Corporation, Incorporated, poor old Gil needs glasses. But no company-provided health insurance means Gil doesn’t see very well. Meanwhile, Peggy uses her address at ACI to receive her illegal weight loss pills from Mexico, and with Gil struggling to see straight, they have not been reaching her inbox lately. Miss Peggy blames Gil for this, of course, and soon tells her friend, the CEO, that he is incompetent. Next thing we know, Gil finds a pink slip in his inbox. Unfortunately for him, he does not have an NFL career to fall back on. He retaliates by stealing a stapler. And Peggy’s bifocals.
LeBron’s Comfy Chair
Real world office translation? Lebron quickly decides he can’t handle the pressure of winning in Miami (and the derision that comes when he does not), so he takes a desk job in sales. He even brings his own chair to replace the one provided – which he believes to be somewhat beneath his status. Lebron also doesn’t show up to the office during certain times of his choosing – frequently in May and June. On one of these absentee days, the guy who sits next to him switches their chairs, partly because Lebron’s is more comfortable and partly because his self-anointed “King of Leads” nickname is getting on everyone’s nerves.
Real world translation? I think this already happened. They took Kenny Mayne with them to a foreign land and, perhaps due to an international incident, he hasn’t been allowed back on American SportsCenter. We miss Kenny.
The Duck Pond
First off, you probably won’t see a TiSC better cast than this one. Obviously, the Duck would make the perfect addition to any office. Even if all of his emails have the subject line, “asdkjfhaskhg.” And his spreadsheets resemble a Jackson Pollock painting in Excel form. And he doesn’t like to wear pants.
The real life translation here? Stanley has no window in his cubicle space. He stares at the tropical backdrop of his “Life’s a Beach” poster hanging on the temporary wall, wishing for something more. Slouching his way into the break room, he opens up the fridge. Someone has a package of “Paradise Blend” fruit cups sitting inside, with an image of palm trees on the tab. Stanley gets lost in the palm trees for a moment and decides to eat one of the cups. His yearning now satisfied, Stanley goes back to work at his desk, but returns to the fridge every now and then to find the Paradise Blends restocked. He takes another. Yeah, life is alllright.
Real world translation? Nothing happens.
Elevator to Hell
Real world translation? A low-wage, immigrant contractor is hired to service the furnace in the basement of an office building. He is a bit of an intimidating fellow, and as a result, no one wants to ride in the elevator with him. Once alone in the basement, he discovers a dire problem with the furnace but doesn’t know who to go to with the news, since everyone is avoiding him. Out of frustration he kicks the furnace, which coincidentally – or not – explodes and the worker perishes. His ghost remains to haunt the building after it is remodeled, certainly not coincidentally, without a furnace. Actually, this might be The Simpsons translation.
What other great “This is SportsCenter” versions did I leave out?