How the NFL Quickly Turned Around a PSA Involving Over 50 of the League’s Stars

72andSunny and pro football encourage people to #StayHomeStayStrong

Russell Wilson and Ciara are part of the NFL's COVID-19 PSA, encouraging people to stay home. NFL

In the sports world, several companies are ramping up their fundraising efforts to help with COVID-19 relief. Nike, for example, committed an initial $15 million while also promoting indoor activity through the brand’s app.

Individual athletes continue to donate to various causes, including helping stadium staff manage the lack of income as leagues stay shut down for the foreseeable future. And sports leagues and their partners have started building programs to help various charities and organizations working on relief.

Apparel manufacturer Fanatics, for example, is looking to produce 1 million masks using the same material as MLB jerseys. Hockey brand Bauer is repurposing its facilities to make medical face masks. And the NBA is on its way to a $50 million commitment.

The NFL is also chipping in, with an initial $35 million-plus donation to 10 organizations, including the American Red Cross, Meals on Wheels, Boys & Girls Clubs of America and United Way.

The league also released a five-minute PSA featuring over 50 current and former NFL players and coaches encouraging people to stay home while finding opportunities to make the most of the situation.

Created by 72andSunny, the compelling film narrated by former tight end Tony Gonzalez shows slices of life similar to what others are experiencing: doing puzzles, staying fit, creating TikTok videos and just spending time with family.

According to NFL CMO Tim Ellis, the league did a quick round of research with its fans to understand how they were feeling overall and where sports fit in.

“It became clear to us that there were two things that were important for us from a fan perspective. First was to be responsible and make sure that everyone out there understands what [the NFL is] doing and why,” Ellis said. “And then, secondly, give us some level of escapism. Give us content and something that can take our minds off of all the things that we’re thinking about on a day-to-day basis.”

Creatively, especially with productions shut down around the world, the agency and league knew that they would need to rely on footage sent from players. The brief, according to Ellis and Glenn Cole, 72andSunny co-founder and creative chair, needed to be tighter than usual to ensure quality and the ability to stitch a narrative together.

“We had a very clear brief that we sent them,” Ellis said. “We wanted them to tell us the one thing that [they were] doing at home that is helping everyone in their family stay focused, safe and strong. And then we gave them some ideas on areas to explore as well.”

Cole said they didn’t want to give overcomplicated directions, “whether that’s an NFL athlete filming themselves or a photographer shooting a product independently in their in-home studio.”

“A lot of the work was done in the first couple days just ironing out the brief,” he said. “I think the result is from the very narrow focus or, in this case, video challenge we gave them.”

The ad was done in a highly compressed time line and created from around 90 minutes of footage. Cole and Ellis believe that what they’ve learned as a result of the project could change the way work is done in the future.

“I think that’s going to have a great holdover effect because, in the usual office experience, you can get a little loose on the strategies,” Cole said.

Ellis said they’re “learning things that are going to stick.”

“What we’re learning right now in terms of engaging people and how we’re putting things together in a very practical, efficient and effective way [is essential],” he said. “This will make us stronger, more effective marketers.”


@zanger doug.zanger@adweek.com Doug Zanger is a senior editor, agencies at Adweek, focusing on creativity and agencies.
Publish date: March 27, 2020 https://stage.adweek.com/creativity/how-the-nfl-quickly-turned-around-a-psa-involving-over-50-of-the-leagues-stars/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT
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