From Start-up To Superstar: The ESPN Story

When CEO/Executive Producer Vaughn Halyard of StoryLounge Media Group was asked by Mediacom Regional VP Doug Frank to co-produce a major event for Cedar Rapids business and community leaders featuring George Bodenheimer, Co-Chairman of Disney Media Networks and President of ESPN and ABC Sports, there was no question where he would turn for help designing and producing the event.

“Doug had access to George and wanted to know what we could do to really make an impact,” Halyard says. “To bring someone of Bodenheimer’s stature in town, we needed top-notch image consulting and branding, as well as someone who knows how we operate, so we brought FUEL in. It was a matter of confidence. We are very demanding when it comes to branding and imaging, and I know they are as well.”

”The “Big Idea from a Small Town: A Discussion with George Bodenheimer,” event was an opportunity for Corridor thought leaders to share in a first hand recounting of the evolution of ESPN from a small start-up network operating out of an unfinished building in Bristol, Connecticut — a post-industrial town of 60,000 — to a worldwide media juggernaut that has redefined branding, broadcasting and business.

“It provided access to a CEO who would not normally come to Cedar Rapids and who runs a company that would be a great prototype for Cedar Rapids — whether it’s doing flood recovery or competing in a global market,” Halyard explains. “If they can do it out of tiny Bristol, Connecticut, imagine what can be done here.”

Once the content and messaging was determined, the Story Lounge, Entrepreneurial Development Center (EDC), and Mediacom team relied on FUEL to develop the look, feel and style that would convey a sense of ESPN’s story from its early roots to its current stature and power. FUEL designed the event invitation, online presence, program and e-invites.

FUEL designer Matt Kempel says the objective was to make a powerful impact on the broadcasting executives and community leaders who were invited to the event, which was held at the Cedar Rapids Country Club. “We developed an entrepreneurial theme with a red, energetic ESPN tone to stimulate enthusiasm and support the notion of bigger thinking for the community.”

“The message and look and feel needed to be globally compelling and appropriate for something done in conjunction with Mediacom, ESPN and Disney. The materials were also circulated within ESPN and Disney, so I couldn’t take any chances on the caliber of the work.”

— Bill Bollman

Produced by StoryLounge and Mediacom in association with the EDC, ESPN and Disney, the event was also backed by a number of local sponsors whose branding had to be represented in the promotional materials.

“We worked with FUEL to make sure all the things we needed were included, but free of clutter,” says Halyard. “The message and look and feel needed to be globally compelling and appropriate for something done in conjunction with Mediacom, ESPN and Disney. The materials were also circulated within ESPN and Disney, so I couldn’t take any chances on the caliber of the work.”

The event drew more than 160 community leaders and clearly hit the target in terms of the excitement it generated. “It was tremendously well received both locally and by the broadcasting people,” says Halyard. “The ESPN executives were very impressed and quite complimentary.”

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Bill Bollman
Creative Director

Bill Bollman is FUEL’s Creative Director. Before co-founding FUEL in 2001, he worked for Horizon Communications, JW Morton and Basler Design Group. Bill studied Illustration at Hawkeye Tech in Waterloo, Iowa. An expert in the “old ways” of hands-on print production, these skills influence his work in the digital world to this day. His work throughout his career has been featured in international publications including Graphis, How International Design, Communication Arts, and The One Book as well as numerous design annuals and reference books.

Hometown: West Union, Iowa
Involved in Design and Marketing since 1988
Interests: Fitness, Travel, Movies