Jun 18, 2020

By Kelby Clark
In a new PSA campaign, eight of the network’s personalities invite audiences to join them in a conversation about racism, inequality, and unity in America.

“I can’t recall the last time I weeped so many consecutive days. I’m just so exhausted,” says Brian Jones, CBS Sports college football analyst and former NFL linebacker. He’s speaking directly to the camera, for a minute of unfiltered and uninterrupted honesty on the topic of equality. “I can tell you what it isn’t—it isn’t present.”

Jones’ video is part of a new “8:46” campaign created by CBS Sports to bring awareness to the issues impacting the Black community and address systemic racism. (The name of the campaign and total length of the announcers' messages is a reference to the length of time police officer Derek Chauvin pinned George Floyd to the ground.) It honors Floyd and pays tribute to other victims of racial violence.

The spot features eight of the network’s announcers—James Brown, Nate Burleson, Swin Cash, Charles Davis, Brian Jones, Clark Kellogg, Lisa Leslie, and Brandon Marshall—each sharing one-minute vignettes that encourage audiences to continue the conversation. It ends with longtime CBS broadcaster Brown delivering a message of love and inclusion for the final 46 seconds.

“We felt it was important to bring awareness to the issues impacting the Black community and use our voice to not only move the conversation forward, but to create real, substantive change,” says Harold Bryant, executive producer and SVP of Production for CBS Sports.

 

The conversations were deep, nuanced and demonstrated the Black experience, says Ellis Williams, feature producer and associate director at CBS Sports, who conducted the interviews with the announcers. He did a bit of directing, but mainly stepped back and let the talent speak from their heart.

“I felt pride in contributing and seeing voices of Black professionals amplified to speak their truth outside of the traditional outlets we see them in,” says Williams.

The campaign debuted on social media last Saturday and was broadcast on television last weekend on CBS during 60 Minutes Sports: Timeless Stories and the network’s coverage of the PGA TOUR’s Charles Schwab Challenge.

The spots were created, executed and produced by Mark Grant, Ellis Williams, Jelani Rooks along with Pete Radovich and Harold Bryant. A brainstorming session around how CBS Sports can use its platform to push for progress and change led to the idea for the campaign. It’s the first step in a series of actions the network plans to take to address social and racial justice issues.

This project came together through the vision of Harold Bryant,” says Williams. “He saw this moment we are living in and was called to action to collaborate and create an offering that would contribute to the conversation on race in America.”

“This was a true team effort,” says Bryant. “Mark, Ellis, Jelani, and Pete did an incredible job creating and executing the project, and we received immediate support from [CBS Sports Chairman] Sean McManus and [CBS Sports President] David Berson to get this done and on the air in a short period of time. I am incredibly proud of the entire team and look forward to advancing the conversation and using our voice to push for progress.”

The need for continued effort is echoed in the closing of each vignette. As Brown says at the end of his segment, “My 60 seconds are up but trust me, there’s a lot more work to be done.”

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