By Barry Janoff
August 30, 2013: What happens when you put 13 Heisman Trophy winners together in one house and turn the cameras on?
Not quite the prefabricated nastiness of TV-scripted reality shows, but something that shows off the playful spirit of the athletes and ex-athletes involved.
Nissan and ESPN are giving fans and viewers the opportunity to interact with 13 winners of the Heisman Trophy, all of whom are being brought together at a dedicated Web site that is home to The Nissan Heisman House.
The third season of the The Nissan Heisman House brings back Robert Griffin III (Baylor, 2011), Barry Sanders (Oklahoma State, 1988), Ty Detmer (BYU, 1990), Ron Dayne (Wisconsin, 1999), Matt Leinart (USC, 2004), Troy Smith (Ohio State, 2006), Tim Brown (Notre Dame, 1987), Carson Palmer (USC, 2002) and Desmond Howard (Michigan, 1991).
Being added to the mix are Sam Bradford (Oklahoma, 2008), Earl Campbell (Texas, 1977), Tony Dorsett (Pittsburgh, 1977) and Mike Rozier (Nebraska, 1983).
The effort supports Nissan’s sponsorship of the Heisman Memorial Trophy Award. This season, for the first time, a Heisman House Tour will travel to college campuses throughout the season.
The Web site also enables fans to cast a vote for whom they think should be the next Heisman Trophy winner.
Other marketing partners of the Heisman Trophy include Aflac and Wendy's.
TV spots featuring the participants debuts Aug. 31 prior to ESPN’s "Saturday Night Football" game on ABC. The commercials will then go into regular rotation on ESPN platforms throughout the season.
Visitors to the Web site can tour the house, learn about current members, track the progress of potential Heisman Trophy candidates and watch each of the TV spots. Nissan vehicles, including the 2014 Altima, Sentra and Versa Note, are integrated into the site and the campaign.
“The sustainability of the original concept with fresh scripts, new athletes and ability to the showcase new vehicles year over year is a tremendous creative story, which is a testament to the power of the idea,” Sean Hanrahan, svp-marketing solutions for ESPN, said in a statement.
The Nissan Heisman House was developed in collaboration with TBWA\Chiat\Day, OMD and ESPN’s in-house creative team, CreativeWorks.
The first Nissan Heisman House spot, "Flashback," has debuted on YouTube, featuring RG3, Bradford, Howard, Sanders, Dorsett and Campbell. As in all of the spots, it shows each of the players wearing jerseys from their respective colleges.
"Flashback" opens with RG3 and Bradford arriving at the Heisman House in a new Nissan, with a loud music beat coming from the car. Sanders and Howard are on the front porch drinking lemonade.
"Lemonade on the front porch!" Griffin says in a condescending voice. "What are you guys, 80?!"
RG3 and Bradford then fist-bump and laugh. "Kids these days," Howard sighs.
We then are sent via flashback to Sanders and Howard as younger men arriving at the house in a Nissan. Here, Dorsett and Campbell are on the front porch. "Lemonade on the front porch," Howard says to them in a condescending tone. "What are you guys, 80!?"
"Kids these days," sighs Dorsett as Campbell agrees. (See the full spot here.)
Among the other spots that are scheudled to run:
• Car Alarm: RG3 and Palmer are competing to see which one can throw a football the farthest. Palmer throws his over the Nissan Heisman House, where it lands in a parking lot next to Howard and Dorsett, who are looking at a new Nissan. RG3 throws his football through the house, hitting the Nissan and setting off the alarm, which is playing the "Fight Song" from Dorsett's Pittsburgh alma mater. (See it here.)
• Coordinated: Finds Rozier dressed in a custom-made suit that has been designed to match his Nissan, which comes with unique exterior and interiors. "What day is it," Rozier asks four of the other guys who are playing catch with a football on the front lawn. "Tuesday," one of them replies. Rozier was getting into a car that had "Monday" license plates on it. He walks over to his "Tuesday" car, which has a completely different custom design and realizes he needs to change his suit. Rozier then calls someone on his cell phone. "I'm gong to need another hour. I need to change." (See it here.)
• Quickdraw: Barry Sanders is driven to beat the other residents of the Nissan Heisman House, where here includes getting the best parking spot, the newest shoes first, being first into the bathroom and even listing the most uses for corn "(Corn bread, corn chowder, corn pudding, corn salsa . . . "). "Man, he's quick," one of the other Heisman House residents observes. (See it here.)
• Rivalry: Pits Oklahoma alumnus Bradford against Oklahoma State alumnus Campbell in an on-hoping game of oneupmanship. Campbell thinks he's won when he fills Bradford's closet with Oklahoma-branded footballs and hits him with an Oklahoma water balloon. But when a gloating Campbell turns around, we see that Bradford has shaved the Oklahoma State logo into his hair. (See it here.)