ESPN honors fans to celebrate 25th year

BRISTOL, CT: ESPN has been celebrating its 25th anniversary with a multifaceted marketing and PR campaign aimed at consumers, employees, and media and TV reporters and critics.

BRISTOL, CT: ESPN has been celebrating its 25th anniversary with a multifaceted marketing and PR campaign aimed at consumers, employees, and media and TV reporters and critics.

ESPN 25 is not the first time the sports TV network has commemorated an anniversary, but it is the biggest such program, said Rosa Gatti, the network's SVP for communications and corporate outreach.

"Our challenge is not to be repetitive and not to be self-serving," she said.

The answer has been for ESPN to commemorate its own anniversary with a celebration of fans both on air and in off-air promotions.

Gatti's department has been supporting a massive marketing effort called The Season of the Fan, which kicked off in November with its Fan Utility Vehicles recording sports enthusiasts talking about what their passions are.

Last month, the network launched ESPN25.com, a website devoted to sports fanaticism. In addition, the department will conduct more than 20 events to support the program.

"Our huge challenge is capturing the totality of the ESPN brand," Gatti said.

Since 1979, ESPN has grown up to become a sports television empire, with 40 business entities, two channels, and a magazine. ESPN and ESPN2 have won 87 Emmy Awards and two Peabody Awards. And it's estimated that each week 94 million Americans consume ESPN-branded media.

The ESPN 25 effort is headed by Mike Soltys, VP of communications. The network is working with a few freelance PR practitioners and a few agencies, but, Gatti said, it is company policy not to disclose the names of the agencies.

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