How to make a thrilling sports promo

Sky Creative’s Simon Cole explains the process behind making sports promos, including how to appeal to younger audiences and why he takes parodies on the chin

Of all the sketches in That Mitchell and Webb Look, the comedy show from Peep Show stars David Mitchell and Robert Webb, one of the most memorable is Football. In it, Mitchell assumes the role of a supercharged Sky Sports presenter, storming and spluttering around the pitch to gear viewers up for the upcoming fixtures and growing increasingly flustered by how overwhelmingly epic it all is.

The skit derides the match day hype that underpins a lot of sports coverage, but that’s not to say people within the world of sport can’t laugh about it. Two years ago, the Bundesliga lifted the script for a Twitter thread promoting the weekend’s match fixtures, while Manchester City’s meta promotion for its clash with Manchester United this March involved a video called How to Make a Derby Promo with slides indicating where to insert elements like drone footage, soundbites and choir.

“The amount of times we’ve pitched David Mitchell to do this for real,” laughs Simon Cole, lead creative on sports promos at Sky Creative. While football might get the most eyeballs (and jibes), the team also works across a vast array of other sports, from high end boxing promos starring Anthony Joshua to high speed Formula 1 ads.

Each creative on the team brings their own speciality to the table, which helps with the enormous amount of leg work involved in sourcing clips for promos. “If you don’t have a passion for sport, it’s very hard to find what you’re looking for. There’s hours and hours and hours of footage. One Premier League game comes back with probably around 36 or 37 hours of footage and we sit and trawl through it all, so having a passion definitely helps in the world of sports,” Cole explains. When live sport was first disrupted during the pandemic and creatives were pulled onto other projects such as trailers for movies or TV programmes, there was a temporary relief in only having to scour through a few hours of footage.