Ea Sports Promo, Case study SUPPORT MADDEN NFL 12 by Fleishman Hillard

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Industry TV Channels/Radio Stations and Programmes
Media Promo & PR, Case study
Market United States
Agency Fleishman Hillard
Producer Gabe Goodwin
Editor Zach Benabid
Released April 2011

Credits & Description

Category: Technology and Manufacturing
Advertiser: EA SPORTS/ESPN
Product/Service: MADDEN NFL 12
Director Of Marketing: Anthony Stevenson (EA Sports)
Director Pro Athlete Relations: Sandy Sandoval (EA Sports)
Vice President Of Marketing: Tom Goedde (EA Sports)
Assistant Product Manager: Moya Nickodem (EA Sports)
Assistant Product Manager: Jennica Pearson (EA Sports)
Communications Manager: Julie Foster (EA Sports)
Social Communications Manager: Justin Dewiel (EA Sports)
Senior Sports Marketing Manager: Gary Treangen (EA Sports)
Assistant Manager/Consumer Marketing: Adam Dempsky (EA Sports)
Senior Vice President/Partner: Steve Hickok (Fleishman-Hillard)
Integration Manager: Michael Bucklin (ESPN)
Integration Specialist: Jeff Ghiringhelli (ESPN)
Producer: Gabe Goodwin (ESPN)
Editor: Zach Benabid (ESPN)
Senior Editor: Daniel Dodd (ESPN)
Media placement: Consumer PR - Wall Street Journal - March 21, 2011
Media placement: Consumer PR - Late Night Show With David Letterman - April 28, 2011

Summary of the Campaign
In 2011, a National Football League (NFL) strike threatened America’s number 1 sport. Players and owners disputed salaries, players’ safety benefits and revenue sharing. Constant negative press turned off loyal fans and hurt the marketability of products like Madden NFL 12, EA Sports' award-winning videogame franchise.

Fans anticipate the annual videogame launch and its NFL cover athlete reveal as much as season kick-off. Named after Hall-of-Fame coach John Madden, the franchise has sold 90m lifetime units in its 23 years. With the threat of a strike looming, EA Sports had a potential crisis on its hands: keep fans engaged in the sport to help drive videogame sales at launch in August 2011.

To ensure consumers knew Madden NFL 12 would release, regardless of a strike, and to keep fans interested, EA Sports leveraged one of its most valuable assets: the Madden NFL cover. To players, the cover is an honour: To fans, it’s an accolade only the best athletes deserve. Debated by fans, players and media, EA Sports knew the debate would reignite around the 2012 athlete and used that interest to turn a 1 day announcement into a 6-week integrated campaign, giving fans the power to vote for the Madden NFL 12 cover athlete.

Through a multi-layered partnership with ESPN, media relations, social media, and a live stunt, the campaign generated nearly 13m votes, and increased pre-sell targets by 3% year-over-year. EA’s COO, Peter Moore, called it “the best-executed promotional campaign in video game history.”

The Situation
EA Sports faced the challenge of marketing a mass football product during a league strike, which could affect fan interest and purchase of the forthcoming Madden NFL 12 launch in August 2011. Fans and media wondered if the game would be released. Challenges included:
• Ensure EVERYONE knows Madden NFL 12 will be released as usual;
• Keep fans interested and engaged;
• Facilitate positive conversation, when dialogue around the strike was negative.

The result: A multi-channel campaign that gave fans the power to choose the cover athlete of Madden NFL 12.

The Goal
EA Sports allow football fans of all 32 NFL teams to campaign for their favourite players. Creating a multi-week initiative, EA Sports knew it would engage fans like never before. Objectives included:

1. Generate widespread media coverage, creating buzz and anticipation for Madden NFL 12;
2. Drive fan voting on ESPN.com and fan engagement on social media channels;
3. Leverage mass awareness and interest from the cover vote as a platform to market new game features;
4. Maintain last year's pre-sell levels.

The Strategy
EAEA Sports developed a 32-player tournament style bracket where NFL players vied for the cover of Madden NFL 12 and fans voted for the player they thought deserved this honour. Tactics included:
• Partnership with ESPN.com and ESPN’s SportsNation daily TV show to provide a voting platform across multiple channels (online, TV, mobile, social media, radio), extending the reach of the campaign.
• Use weekly voting results and cover athlete candidates (social media, appearances on ESPN, media interviews, etc.) to generate consistent stream of media coverage.
• Provide updates and exclusive content via Madden NFL-branded social media channels to reinforce key franchise and title messages.
• Leverage interest around NFL Draft to announce cover campaign winner and kick-off season of Madden NFL 12 through a large consumer-facing event in Times Square.

• Distributed weekly voting results, customized pitches of key players/matchups, and secured NFL player interviews.
• Conducted a media tour and released the 'Madden NFL 12 Playbook' to define new game features for previews.

• Posted voting results across social media channels, hosted live Facebook chats with NFL contenders and posted campaign videos from professional athletes.
• ESPN’s SportsNation produced original social media content featuring its host, Michelle Beadle and created an interactive webpage where fans voted, watched Madden NFL videos, accessed athlete chats and expert blogs.

A Times Square-takeover celebrated the winner, Cleveland Brown’s running back Peyton Hillis, and gave fans and media a 'first look' at the game. Hundreds watched an expansive photo shoot with Hillis on a replica football field. The Facebook page streamed the event and fans Tweeted poses for Hillis to replicate during the shoot, with one photo appearing on the game cover.

Documented Results
Objective 1:
• Secured 1,555+ stories (548% increase YOY), accounting for 136.4m+ daily impressions (241% increase YOY).
• Buzz and Nielsen metrics doubled YOY.

Objective 2:
• Nearly 13m votes were logged.
• The Facebook page generated 200,000+ new fans (50% fan base increase); 33m+ post views of content.
• Dozens of athletes from professional sports leagues (NFL, NBA, etc) via social media channels provided their opinions on the voting campaign.

Objective 3:
• 40 reporters/photographers attended the Madden NFL 12 Kick-off in Times Square; Hillis was featured on 'Late Night with David Letterman'.
• Through 'Madden NFL 12 Playbook', community sentiment around game features increased 17% YOY.

Objective 4:
• Pre-sell target increased by 3% year-over-year; week 1 game sales were over 1.4m units, a 10% increase year-over-year.