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Friday, April 12, 2024
The Observer

Extra football ads to showcase ND


Many members of the Notre Dame community feel our University has five times as much to offer as any other, and during the NBC broadcast of each home football game, Notre Dame gets five times the commercial air time of other universities with which to attempt to prove this true.

Beth Grisoli, director of multimedia services, said the University's working relationship with NBC gives the University the chance to air a two-minute and a 30-second institutional message during home football games. In total, this is quintuple the air time typically allotted to other universities during national broadcasts of sporting events.

"We have a unique opportunity with NBC," Grisoli said. "It's hard to say everything you want to say about your university in 30 seconds, so we're delighted to have these two-minute segments."

The University uses these extra two minutes to broadcast its "fighting for" campaign, which is now in its seventh year, Grisoli said. Each year, Notre Dame produces six new segments for broadcast and rebroadcasts one previous year's segment. NBC airs one segment during each of the seven home games. 

The campaign's goal is to show the inspiring work of students and professors, and at the same to capture the human element and the motivations behind the efforts, Grisoli said. "We select topics that showcase how members of the Notre Dame family are advancing the University's vision domestically and globally through scholarship, research and service," she said. "We have extremely impressive and motivated students, and our faculty are doing incredible things in their work. These two minutes allow us to tell a story and to show the breadth of research, the undergraduate achievements and the deep Catholic faith of our University."

Grisoli said this season's first segment aired during the Temple game and featured the University's enFocus program, which partners entrepreneurship students with the City of South Bend to develop innovative ideas for the city's many programs. 

Another of this year's segments, which has yet to air, will feature the ND SEED program, Grisoli said. ND SEED is a group for engineering students that raises funds to build bridges in rural South American communities.

 The segment explores the motivations of one student whose father was an engineer in Columbia but then could not find work as an engineer in the United States. 

Grisoli said the segment that airs during a particular game is chosen based on association with the opposing university whenever possible.

"Sometimes we look at the university we're playing and see if one of our segments ties in with that institution," she said. "For instance, this year we're playing Navy at home and we have a story that touches on research we're doing with the Navy."

The "fighting for" campaign airs to over four million viewers each game and is popular with fans and alumni, Grisoli said.

"We've built a tremendous following with this campaign, and people look forward to it every year," she said. "We get a surprising number of responses from alumni, and 99.9 percent of it is positive, which is very rewarding. We've even had stories where students say they saw one of these segments and it made them choose this University over another school."

Grisoli said the development process takes almost a full year and begins as soon as the football season ends.

"When the season is over, we exhale, and then we regroup and begin planning the next campaign," she said.

At the beginning of this process, she and her partner, assistant director of marketing communications Ann Hastings, collaborate with an NBC production team to solicit ideas from the University community and then select from the best potential topics, Grisoli said.

"We welcome ideas from anyone, and we specifically reach out to deans from each college, the Office of the Provost and various institutes and centers," she said. "We seriously consider a few dozen stories each year based on rigorous criteria."

Grisoli said once the next season's six stories are selected, a great deal of work and travel goes into filming each two-minute segment.

"For each story we hone in on the storyline, interview lots of people and consider lots of locations," she said. "We interviewed Archbishop Desmond Tutu once and he appeared in a segment.

"It's always an adventure and it takes resourcefulness. We fly all over the world, and it's not unusual to have two crews in different parts of the world doing two things at the same time."

This past summer, the NBC team had to film part of a segment with one small camera because they couldn't get the rest of the equipment through customs in Nicaragua, Grisoli said.

Grisoli said working on the "fighting for" campaigns is difficult, but she finds it rewarding to tell the stories of students.

"These segments require a tremendous amount of work, but every day I am just blown away by Notre Dame students and what they can accomplish," she said. "I find them remarkable, and it's a privilege to tell their stories."

All previously aired "fighting for" segments are available at fightingfor.nd.ed

Contact Christian Myers at