With sporting events canceled across all professional leagues, Sunday night’s broadcast of the ESPN documentary series The Last Dance drew together a huge audience starved for content. Only a few sponsors were allowed in for the event, and with apologies to Reese’s, it’s pretty clear that State Farm won the night.
The insurer took viewers on a quick, wild and head-spinning ride with one of advertising’s best head fakes in recent memory. The spot began with what seemed like archival ESPN SportsCenter footage from 1998, when the Chicago Bulls won their third consecutive championship.
Such footage was to be expected, given that viewers were there to watch the first two episodes of a documentary series about the Bulls’ 1997-98 season. But then things started to get … creepy.
As the ad continues, it becomes increasingly clear that longtime broadcaster Kenny Mayne was not, in fact, one of history’s greatest prognosticators, but was instead simply deepfaking himself by adding new audio onto archival footage. Sometime around “it’s going to be lit,” you realize you’ve been duped.
The promo was developed by ESPN CreativeWorks, in collaboration with Optimum Sports and Translation.
The spot generated quick and copious buzz on social media, with most giving State Farm credit for a cleverly convincing misdirect.
The spot actually debuted via an NBA tweet a day before the documentary began airing:
For those who aren’t completely up to speed on your football vernacular, the “butt fumble” referenced in the spot was a 2012 play during a Thanksgiving Day game between the New York Jets and New England Patriots. Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez slammed into the butt of teammate Brandon Moore, leading to a Patriots fumble recovery and runback for a touchdown.
It’s generally remembered as one of of football’s most embarrassing moments, likely because it came in conjunction with the Jets’ other embarrassing flubs in the same quarter, resulting in three Patriots touchdowns in less than a minute.
Who could have predicted such a bizarre event? Only Kenny Mayne, apparently.
Carrie Brzezinski-Hsu: VP, CreativeWorks and Multimedia Sponsorship Integration
Jay Marrotte: Senior Creative Director
Jamie Overkamp: Creative Director
Andy Truong: Writer
Anthony Nelson: VP, Production
Kyle Wright: Senior Director, Production
Nick Aquilino: Producer
Nicole Gartner: Senior Social Media Branded Content Specialist
Colin Ryan: Disney Ad Sales Manager
Agency: Translation, LLC
Chief Executive Officer and Founder: Steve Stoute
Head of Client Services: Susanna Swartley
Group Creative Director: Alex Kaplan
Group Creative Director: Barry Katz
Art Director: Dupree Bostic
Copywriter: Lucas Kelly
Group Account Director: Julia Farber
Account Executive: Stephen Rich
Assistant Account Executive: Bridget Derraugh
Group Strategy Director: John McBride
Strategy Director: Shani Syphrett
Strategist: Megan Mundo
Group Context Director: Joel Rodriguez
Context Director: Evan Auerbach
Senior Context Strategist: Jay Legaspi
Senior Data Analyst: Jineen Carcamo
Senior Project Manager: Ali Schurz