Cannes Lions

EA Sports _Madden 19 Campaign

JOHANNES LEONARDO, New York / EA GAMES / 2019

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Overview

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Credits

Overview

Background

Madden is an iconic football franchise that has faced plateauing sales in recent years. And this year in particular, with the NFL facing challenges ranging from politics to player injuries, we couldn’t count on the same momentum as previous seasons. Madden needed a way to bring the soul back to the franchise, reconnect with culture, and give its fans a compelling reason to embrace the upcoming release.

Idea

There is no greater joy in gaming than pulling off the perfect Madden play. And as NFL plays like the Philly Special were gaining notoriety in culture, we wanted to remind fans that they, too, can achieve gridiron greatness. But we couldn’t just say it. We had to prove it. So we created a never-before-seen play and revealed it in our film as ‘The Greatest Play Call Ever.’ The legend who called it? An everyday gamer named Will who rises to the occasion.Then, we treated him and his play-call like an all-star athlete — giving him endorsements and co-signs from the world’s biggest stars and brands. By proving that you can become famous for making a Madden play call, we reignited our fanbase’s imagination — inviting them all to “MakeYour Play.”

Strategy

Our strategy was to re-engage past Madden gamers by talking to them about what matters most. Not touchdown catches and bone-crunching tackles. But by championing what makesMadden great: strategy and play-calling. That making the perfect play call can lead to euphoric moments that no other game can give you.Seeing how NFL fans rallied behind the ‘Philly Special’ in 2018 and made it part of culture, we knew we had to prove to them that a Madden play call can reach the same heights. Because at its core, Madden is the most strategic sports video game franchise on the market. So we went ahead and reignited our core fanbase’s imagination by reminding them they’re all one play call away from greatness.

Execution

We set out to prove that Madden play calls can be as iconic as the Philly Specials of the world.How? By creating ‘The Greatest Play Call Ever,’ a never-before-seen play which we revealed in the film. Our launch film went on air during the Hall of Fame game, thrusting the legend of Will and his play-call into the spotlight alongside other NFL legends.Then, we collaborated with iconic brands and celebrities to have Will and his play call transcend pop culture. Fans saw Will’s epic play call and said, “I want to do that, too.” So when the NFL season kicked-off, our film’s celebrities urged gamers to submit their own epic play calls. Their response? Too many highlights too count. We turned these user-submitted play calls into weekly social content that celebrated the fans who followed in Will’s footsteps and made their play.

Outcome

The launch of Madden NFL 19, propelled by ‘The Greatest Play Call Ever,’ was the most successful Madden launch in six years. It increased unit sales by 9.7% from the year before, which led it to become the best-selling game in August. Our film’s celebrities challenged ou rfans to send in their own play calling highlights which increased Madden’s user engagement across its social channels.Soon enough, the legend of Will and his play call got so big we had to make a follow-up holiday film that championed his friends making their own epic plays. By the end of the campaign, earned impressions were up 105% over last year. This meant the launch of Madden NFL 19wasn’t just a landmark success, but future releases in the franchises were setup to succeed, too.

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