AdAge has an exclusive interview with William Morris Agency co-CEO Ari Emanuel in which he defends ESPN’s controversial and much-crtiticized one-hour LeBron James special, which he helped put together.”For me it was about doing the event, getting the advertisers to participate and doing it for charity,” Emanuel told AdAge’s Rich Thomaselli. “This was a major success for advertisers.”
The special generated $6 million in ad revenue, with chunks of that going to various charities, including $2.5 million to the Boys & Girls Club.
Now here’s the story of how it came together:
It began when Mr. Emanuel was sitting with media mogul David Geffen at an NBA Finals game in Los Angeles last month and was approached by Mr. James’ business manager, Maverick Carter, and Mr. grey. The group talked about how best to announce Mr. James’ team choice and settled on the concept of a TV show. Mr. Emanuel looped in William Morris endeavour partner Mark Dowley, the former McCann Erickson vice chairman.
Mr. Dowley and Mr. Carter began contacting advertisers and looking for a home for a show, with the idea that the proceeds from ad revenue would go to charity. Originally, discussions were with ESPN’s Walt Disney Co. sibling ABC, but a date could not be found.
The plan was then to have Mr. James make his announcement in a special on ESPN on July 14, prior to the network’s annual ESPY awards show. After the announcement of where he would play next season and the conclusion of the one-hour show, Mr. James would then walk onstage during the live telecast of the 18th annual event from Los Angeles and present the night’s first award
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