By Barry Janoff
April 3, 2012: Robinson Cano of the New York Yankees plays a modern day Typhoid Mary in a new spot for ESPN's This is SportsCenter. The commercial helps support ESPN's opening day coverage of the 2012 MLB season and also marks the first Spanish-language ad in the 17 years that This is SportCenter commercials have been airing.
The spot will debut in Spanish on April 4 on ESPN Deportes and on ESPN during Baseball Tonight. Lead agency is Wieden + Kennedy, New York.
In "Handshakes,” the Yankees' All-Star second baseman walks through ESPN's offices in Bristol, Conn., giving his prolonged and intricate handshake greeting to everyone he meets. The problem is that the first person Cano glad-hands, anchor John Anderson, has a cold, the germs of which get passed from Cano to everyone else he touches.
But this is all unknown to the ESPN staffers, themselves.
"In an office like, this, when one of us catches a cold, it's weird, it spreads like crazy," says sports anchor Karl Ravech. "First one person, then two, then ten!"
As we follow Cano, he offers handshakes to the likes of Sage Steele, Kevin Negandhi, John Buccigross, Linda Cohn and Robert Flores in the English-language spot and ESPN Deportes anchors Tony Cherchi, Carolina Guillén, Jorge Eduardo Sánchez, Ricardo Puig, Enrique Rojas and Fernando Alvarez appear in the Spanish-language version.
"We don't know how it happens," Ravech says about the cold epidemic. "Maybe its the ventilation. Nobody knows."
The English-version spot ends with Cohn and Flores on-air struggling to give the news, while the Spanish version ends with their ESPN Deportes on-air counterparts in the same flu-ridden condition.
According to Carol Kruse, svp-marketing for ESPN, "This is a landmark moment for the This is SportsCenter franchise. Reaching the Hispanic sports fans continues to be a priority for the ESPN brand, and this is just another example of our commitment and many efforts to engage with this growing audience.”