The National Football League (NFL) has always been surrounded by rumors and speculation, with fans often questioning the authenticity of its games. Earlier this year, former NFL player Arian Foster claimed that the league was scripted, sparking a wave of memes and conspiracy theories. This prompted the creative minds at 72andSunny, an advertising agency, to consider turning these memes into a sports marketing campaign.
Seizing an Opportunity
Glenn Cole and Zach Hilder, founders of 72andSunny, saw potential in building on the conspiracy theory surrounding scripted NFL games. However, they were unsure about the direction of the campaign. After discussing the idea with the NFL, they decided to frame the league not just as a sports option, but also as a form of entertainment for families.
A Risk Worth Taking
Although the campaign was not exactly on brief, NFL CMO Tim Ellis loved the idea and decided to proceed with it. The campaign, titled “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up,” was launched on Amazon Prime Video during a Thursday Night Football game. It featured actor and comedian Keegan-Michael Key conducting a table read of the 2023 NFL season script, along with several NFL players.
The Essence of the Campaign
The “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up” campaign aimed to highlight key moments and events in the NFL calendar, such as international Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Black Friday matchups. It sought to capture the attention of both casual fans and diehard followers, using humor and the concept of scripted plays to create a sense of shared experience and entertainment.
Building Trust and Collaboration
The NFL has been working closely with 72andSunny for several years, building a foundation of trust and flexibility. This partnership allowed both parties to capitalize on big ideas and work towards their shared objective of attracting more fans, particularly younger and multicultural ones. The NFL’s willingness to trust its creative partners and explore unconventional approaches has been instrumental in the success of their campaigns.
The Script Unveiled
To add an extra layer of intrigue to the campaign, the NFL’s marketers printed a 300-page “script” for the upcoming season. However, the script was 99% redacted, leaving fans and influencers curious about what lies beneath the blacked-out portions. This tactic generated excitement and buzz around the campaign, creating a sense of anticipation for the upcoming NFL season.
Assembling the Cast
Creating a campaign of this magnitude required the collaboration of various NFL players and non-player talent. Stars such as Dexter Lawrence, Jalen Ramsey, Ja’mar Chase, Justin Fields, DK Metcalf, Jason Kelce, Travis Kelce, Patrick Mahomes, and Kirk Cousins were involved in the campaign. Comedian Keegan-Michael Key played a crucial role as the host of the table read, bringing his unique comedic style and familiarity with the NFL to the set.
Finding the Right Tone
Keegan-Michael Key’s involvement in the campaign proved essential in creating a lighthearted and enjoyable atmosphere on set. His ability to connect with the players and make them feel comfortable allowed for authentic and entertaining interactions. Director Aaron Stoller and production company Biscuit brought their expertise to the project, giving the campaign a visually appealing and cinematic quality.
Positioning the NFL as an Escape
The “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up” campaign represents one aspect of the NFL’s marketing strategy over the past five years. While the league positions itself as a force for good and emphasizes community engagement, campaigns like this one focus on highlighting the NFL as an escape from everyday life. With numerous entertainment options available to consumers, the NFL aims to capture the attention of both avid and casual fans by offering a unique and engaging experience.
Maximizing Impact on Key Dates
Launching the campaign during prime NFL viewing dates, such as Thanksgiving, was a strategic move by the NFL’s marketers. According to data and analytics firm EDO, NFL games dominated the list of most effective broadcasts for advertisers, with three games played on Thanksgiving alone. Additionally, airing the campaign during a Thursday Night Football game on Amazon Prime Video proved to be highly effective in driving consumer engagement.
Extending the Reach
In addition to the advertisements, the NFL’s marketing team produced a 300-page season script that was delivered to a select group of fans and influencers. This further fueled the excitement and anticipation surrounding the campaign. The NFL plans to utilize various channels, including social media, linear television, and in-game promotions, to maintain the buzz and excitement throughout the season.
The collaboration between the NFL and 72andSunny on the “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up” campaign exemplifies the power of creativity and innovation in marketing. By embracing a conspiracy theory and turning it into an entertaining and engaging campaign, the NFL successfully captures the attention of fans and brings families together through the shared experience of football. With the support of trusted creative partners and a willingness to think outside the box, the NFL continues to solidify its position as a leading entertainment brand.
See first source: Ad Week
Q1: What is the “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up” NFL campaign?
A: The “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up” campaign is a creative marketing initiative launched by the National Football League (NFL) in collaboration with the advertising agency 72andSunny. It aims to playfully embrace the conspiracy theory that NFL games are scripted while highlighting key moments and events in the NFL calendar.
Q2: What inspired the campaign’s concept?
A: The campaign was inspired by former NFL player Arian Foster’s claim that the league was scripted. The creative minds at 72andSunny saw potential in building on this conspiracy theory and transforming it into an entertaining marketing campaign.
Q3: How does the campaign challenge the conspiracy theory?
A: The campaign does not directly challenge the conspiracy theory but instead embraces it in a lighthearted manner. The campaign features actor and comedian Keegan-Michael Key conducting a table read of the 2023 NFL season “script,” along with several NFL players. This approach allows the NFL to playfully acknowledge the theory while showcasing its entertaining aspects.
Q4: What is the campaign’s goal?
A: The campaign aims to capture the attention of both casual fans and diehard followers by highlighting key moments and events in the NFL calendar, such as international Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Black Friday matchups. It seeks to position the NFL as a form of entertainment for families and create a sense of shared experience.
Q5: How does the campaign utilize influencers and players?
A: The campaign features several NFL players, including Dexter Lawrence, Jalen Ramsey, Ja’mar Chase, Justin Fields, DK Metcalf, Jason Kelce, Travis Kelce, Patrick Mahomes, and Kirk Cousins. Comedian Keegan-Michael Key hosts the table read, bringing his comedic style and familiarity with the NFL to the set.
Q6: How was the campaign launched?
A: The campaign was launched on Amazon Prime Video during a Thursday Night Football game. The NFL strategically chose prime NFL viewing dates, such as Thanksgiving, to maximize its impact. The campaign was also supported by a 300-page season “script” delivered to fans and influencers, creating anticipation for the upcoming NFL season.
Q7: What is the NFL’s overall marketing strategy?
A: The NFL’s marketing strategy combines various approaches, including community engagement and positioning itself as an escape from everyday life. While emphasizing its role as a force for good, campaigns like “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up” focus on providing unique and engaging entertainment experiences for fans.
Q8: How can fans stay engaged with the campaign?
A: The NFL plans to maintain the buzz and excitement throughout the season by utilizing various channels, including social media, linear television, and in-game promotions. Fans can follow the NFL’s official accounts and platforms to stay updated on campaign-related content and events.
Q9: What is the significance of the collaboration between the NFL and 72andSunny?
A: The collaboration exemplifies the power of creativity and innovation in marketing. By embracing a conspiracy theory and turning it into an engaging campaign, the NFL successfully captures the attention of fans and solidifies its position as an entertainment brand that resonates with a wide audience.
Featured Image Credit: Adrian Curiel; Unsplash – Thank you!