COLUMBIA - Katherine Boidy had high expectations as she settled in before kickoff of South Carolina's game against Florida last fall.
A South Carolina alumnus, Boidy experienced the magic of "Sandstorm" many times. She has seen Williams-Brice Stadium illuminate at night. She basked in the raw exuberance of more than 80,000 Gamecocks fans welcoming their team to the field.
It's why Boidy, ESPN's associate director of marketing, thought a commercial showcasing the "Sandstorm" music was a perfect addition to the SEC Network's 14 ads depicting a tradition from every league school. She returned to campus last fall along with a film crew, determined to capture the magic.
Boidy wanted the scoreboard to light up with the crowd. Instead, the crew was greeted by South Carolina's 19-14 win, the lowest-scoring game of the season.
"That made me nervous," Boidy said. "We were hoping to have a lot of instances to shoot 'Sandstorm.' There were only three or four moments, and it can easily be double that."
The low score put more pressure on maximizing each playing of the song that seems to work the Gamecock crowd into a frenzy. Boidy believes the crew accomplished its goal. The final product was unveiled Tuesday when ESPN released all 14 television ads for the new SEC Network, which launches in August.
Each ad pulls one intimate trait from each SEC school and shares it with the public. From Rocky Top to M-I-Z-Z-O-U, Mike the Tiger to Reveille, Gator Chomp to Woo Pig Sooie, Bear Bryant to Herschel Walker, the ads serve as windows into each campus' soul.
A "Sandstorm" feature was the first pitch ESPN heard from the North Carolina-based advertising agency McKinney, which partnered on the project. For Boidy, a 2008 graduate of the Moore School of Business, it was the perfect idea.
"'Sandstorm' is just a moment in time at each Carolina game that really captures the energy of the fans," she said.
Several cameras were set up inside Williams-Brice Stadium, poised for the perfect shot. Boidy relied on her own experience, letting the crew know which areas of the stadium would provide the best images. The challenge, she said, was portraying the story of what "Sandstorm" meant in just 30 seconds.
The ad opens as a volunteer places white towels on Williams-Brice Stadium's bleachers. It then shows many characteristics that comprise "Sandstorm" - South Carolina's school flag waving, fans twirling towels as they cheer, the mic man pumping up the crowd. Finally, the ad closes with a Gamecock resting on the goal posts as the slogan "Take it all in" flashes on screen.
Boidy said she's pleased with the final product. She also was impressed to see what "Sandstorm" had become.
"It's great to see," Boidy said. "As a fan myself, when I was in school 'Sandstorm' was just starting. It wasn't the moment it is now, where they play it after every touchdown or kickoff. It was a little bit different, but it was just beginning to turn into what it is now."
The ad will be available to South Carolina for use on multiple platforms, including online and in stadiums. It will regularly run along with the 13 other ads when the network launches this summer.
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