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EA SPORTS “Madden NFL Ratings Hotline”

160OVER90, New York / EA GAMES / 2023

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Overview

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Overview

Background

Fans almost always have mixed sentiment around their favorite player's ratings when new Madden games come out, and often ask themselves – and EA SPORTS – the following questions: Who decides the “Madden NFL 23” ratings? And how can I reach them with suggestions or, more likely, complaints? Because of this, EA SPORTS collaborated with us to develop a global creator campaign that drives conversation and excitement around the release of Madden NFL 23’s ratings, with the aim of creating pre-release hype among fans.

Idea

We leveraged the ratings conversation that was undoubtedly coming and set up a fake phone number for the person responsible for ratings, “leaking” it to players, influencers and fans, and sat back as fans called in to speak their piece. We came up with the creative idea for the campaign to launch a Madden NFL Ratings Hotline with the voice of new Madden Ratings Adjustor, Chad “OchoCinco” Johnson and identified athletes, talent and influencers who could authentically support Madden fans calling in.

Strategy

Gen Z and Millennial sports fans are increasingly not watching full games and matches, choosing instead to follow along with social media. However, 95% of sports fans are watching sports related video content, and sports stars are increasingly also social media stars. Creating unique video content with sports influencers is an effective way to own and extend major conversation moments, such as the release of Madden ratings, for sports related brands.

We tapped into the frustrations and opinions of the Madden fans on the ratings and these conversations are extremely common around the release of the game. The hotline reflected the true, unfiltered, and raw opinions of many fans that wanted to see their favorite players or teams’ ratings adjusted. After the hotline launched, Madden’s owned social pages showcased weekly which team or players’ ratings had changed which resulted in even more callers and noise from fans.

Execution

To generate excitement for the hotline launch, we identified athletes, talent and influencers who could authentically support Madden fans calling. We created hero videos to release the number on EA SPORTS Madden social channels while leveraging talent to promote the number including former NFL athlete and now Ratings Adjustor, Chad “OchoCinco” Johnson, NFL athletes including D'Andre Swift, Kyle Pitts and Micah Parsons along with influencer Taylor Rooks and WWE superstar, Seth Rollins.

Influencers were leveraged to drive calls to the hotline during cultural moments by partnering with comedian Trey Kennedy ahead of the Madden NFL 23 launch. Before NFL Kickoff, we partnered with sports and comedy influencer Scooter Magruder and comedian Joey Mulinaro to encourage fans to call the hotline. For Black Friday, we partnered with comedian LeJuan James to excite fans and promote the hotline. Ahead of the Super Bowl, we collaborated with comedian and sports creator Chris Ashley.

Outcome

Armchair GMs from all over the world generated over 1,000 voicemails in the first 24 hours leading to pick up by ESPN (including sports writer and reporter Adam Schefter), Sports Illustrated and Bleacher Report. The hotline amassed over 15,000 voicemails and garnered an estimated reach of over 217.8 million fans with 205.9 million estimated impressions.

We have shared the hilarious, inventive, passionate, questionable and memorable content via Madden accounts and continued to promote the number via influencers and NFL athletes through the Super Bowl. Calls came from a wide variety of fans and some more well-known callers. NFL Athletes including Kayvon Thibodeaux, Ja’Marr Chase and Derek Carr called in to have ratings adjusted along with sports analyst Adam Rank and ESPN Radio.

95% positive/neutral sentiment after 24 hours of the hotline being live.

26%+ conversation volume YoY in July and August.

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