by Lauren Festa
I love GIFs. We both were kismet-ly conceived in the same year (1987) and I was pronouncing it the correct way, long before CNN confirmed it. (hint: the G is more like a J). So when I had the chance to play a round of EA Sports Madden GIFERATOR, I could see why it was the winner of both Gold and Silver cubes at the 94th ADC Annual Awards, six Cannes Lions and many more from D&AD, the One Show, Game Marketing Awards, Webbys, ADDYs, and Shorties among others.
The highly addictive GIFERATOR has been widely recognized for its use of real-time marketing, social engagement, and ad innovation. More simply, I am not the only one who loves a GIF. Many a sports fan love GIFs too. If you’ve ever watched a basketball, baseball or football match, you know that the only thing better than a home team win is the Meme’s that flood the internet after the buzzer sounds. (If you know who LeBron James is, you’ve seen this Vine). That’s just the kind of engagement that the folks over at digital agency Grow were interested in when tackling the brief with Google, Heat and EA Games.
Despite the fact that NFL ratings are higher than ever, the reality is that fewer people are playing Madden than they once did. So, to launch Madden NFL ’15 with a culturally relevant bang, EA Games needed to connect with a new generation of football fans – i.e, those fans making and sharing those post-game meme’s and GIFs – and they could to do it in real time. Imagine, being able to really stick it to your rival team with a GIF.
Eric Lohman, Grow’s Associate Creative Director, explains that the magic of the The Madden GIFERATOR lies in its technology. “It’s a real-time NFL GIF engine that generates a live stream of animated GIFs triggered by the action on TV. Fans could also take control on any device and create their own GIFs to zing their rivals. With every brag-worthy play, GIFERATOR dynamically combines relevant game footage, stinging headlines, and dynamic stats for real-time delivery at the height of conversation.”
It sounds a little complex, but rest assured it’s completely user friendly. Simply click on your favorite team, select a live action, and choose from a gallery of backgrounds, ranging from a galaxy of stars to the Star Spangled Banner, and finally a witty headline to overlap it. With incredibly funny results and endless combinations, the GIFERATOR is social media fire.
The whole project was incredibly fun. It’s rare that you get to build GIFs of bacon or volcanoes and get paid for it, but it was just right for the campaign and for the audience. The copywriting was done by EA Games’ agency Heat. And yes, those guys are hilarious.
Experience and brains combined, it’s not their first rodeo. As Drew Ungvarsky, Grow’s ECD and CEO of Grow tells us “GIFERATOR is our fourth Art, Copy & Code project. We’ve also done Nike Phenomenal Shot, Burberry Kisses, and VW SmileDrive. With each of those engagements, we’ve come in early with Google to explore new ways to push the boundaries of creative technology. We then help drive through shared concepting and lead execution.”
But GIFERATOR is arguably their most buzzed about project. The media was all over GIFERATOR from every angle with more than 160 press articles and 14 million impressions. The Washington Post, Buzzfeed, Fox Sports, College Humor, Fast Company and Maxim, all shared the creative, crazy and unintuitive ways people found to use it. Adweek called it ‘one of the year’s most innovative digital ad products.’
Launching for the NFL’s kickoff weekend, by the following Monday, Madden GIFERATOR was used to create over 200,000 GIFs. NFL teams, players, and fans quickly adopted it as a megaphone for everything football. It became a part of pop culture and began to trend on Tumblr as one of the most reblogged memes of the year. It even spawned its own subreddit, and exploded on Twitter. It became the #4 most-searched GIF on Google for 2014.
We generated more than 2,300 GIFs in real-time across all 256 NFL games, helping keep Madden relevant all season long. Fans went on to create over 417,000 GIFs of their own, sharing and re-sharing them to every corner of the internet. Most importantly, Madden NFL 15 was the top selling game for its launch month.
Quan Hoang, Creative Director at Grow, shows us that you can have a lot of fun while making good work. “The campaign was hugely successful for Madden, and for partners EA Games and Google.” he says. “And yes, real-time marketing, when done right, can help brands join a conversation and create incredible engagement. The challenge is to do it in a way that’s highly relevant and valuable to the audience. It’s easy to create noise.”
Let’s hear it for the home team.
Special thanks to Rachel Reagan.