- The NFL is calling out pop-culture speculation about its games being scripted with a new campaign, “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up.” Launched Aug. 24, the tongue-and-cheek effort stars comedian Keegan-Michael Key alongside a slew of the league’s icons.
- Two debut spots are based around a fictitious table read with comedian Key playing the role of a director while players like Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce pitch potential plot twists from the upcoming season. The integrated effort will span social, digital and TV.
- The campaign will run through the season with an additional 16 pieces of content slated to arrive around key moments in the year. The move arrives as major brands, like Bud Light, similarly begin rolling out NFL-related marketing ahead of the new season.
The NFL is playfully letting football fans know they’ve been paying attention, pulling inspiration for its latest campaign from memes and pop-culture buzz debating whether or not the league's memorable moments were planned ahead of time. The cheeky move is meant to spin the league as a hub for entertainment that’s “better than fiction,” per the release, while also helping to get fans hyped for the upcoming season, which begins Sept. 7.
In attempting to grow excitement for the ‘23 season, the star-studded roster for the NFL’s campaign could help provide a major lift. Included in campaign materials are players Patrick Mahomes, Justin Fields, Kirk Cousins, DK Metcalf, Dexter Lawrence, Ja’marr Chase, Jalen Ramsey and brothers Travis and Jason Kelce.
Two 60-second campaign spots serve as the launching point for the campaign, with both featuring comedian Key as a director on a table read of the “script” for the league’s 104th season. The first, “The Table Read” opens with an optimistic Key ready to craft moments worthy of besting notable events from the ‘22 season, sitting around a table with the NFL “actors” as they begin pitching ideas. Quickly, the session gets out of hand with outlandish ideas, like Chase making a “no-handed catch,” to which Metcalf suggests he make a catch using only his abs.
A second spot, “The Last Page,” carries the same plot, with Key opening by suggesting that they need something “juicy” for mid-season, with players like Lawrence quickly chiming in to pitch a new dance and Chase — wide-receiver for the Bengals — suggesting that he ride a Bengal tiger. Later on, Donna Kelce, mother to Travis and Jason, joins the conversation via video call to suggest a forbidden-love plot that sees Jimmy Garoppolo, quarterback for the Los Angeles Raiders, fall in love with her “character.”
“You Can’t Make This Stuff Up” was produced by agency 72andSunny and directed by Aaron Stoller with support from production company Biscuit. In addition to two live video ads, 16 additional pieces of content will be released throughout the season timed to key moments including Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Christmas and international games, per the release.
The campaign first aired on Aug. 24 during the Thursday Night Football broadcast, which is now hosted on Amazon’s Prime Video streaming platform after the league and Amazon reached an agreement and 10-year pact in 2021. Following the deal, Amazon and Nielsen signed a three-year measurement agreement as the embattled measurement service tries to adapt to new consumer viewing behaviors. In an Aug. 23 development of that partnership, Nielsen announced that it will be incorporating data from Prime Video in its ratings reporting — the first time the measurement service has paired its independent research with a company’s data to report ratings.
As the NFL attempts to grow excitement for the 2023 season, brands have also begun rolling out marketing around the occasion. Last week, Bud Light launched one of its biggest NFL campaigns to date, “Easy to Sunday,” per details shared with Marketing Dive. The same week, Guinness debuted a new campaign playfully pitting NFL stars Joe Burrow and Joe Montana against one another.