Lenovo Ups NFL Fantasy Stakes

With drafts, trades, injuries, win-loss percentages and teams’ fates hanging on every play, Fantasy Football coaches can feel like their professional counterparts throughout a season. This year, with help from Lenovo and NFL.com, one winner will get to show off his or her stuff in real life. (Sort of.)

Expanding upon its ultimate Fantasy Coach contest from last year (which awarded one winner with the chance to attend the NFL draft, combines, Pro Bowl and Super Bowls), Lenovo is upping the ante by hosting a “Fantasy Coach of the Year” contest, through which one coach will get the chance to not only attend this year’s Pro Bowl in Hawaii, but also help select one of the teams in the Pro Bowl draft, and watch the first quarter from the sidelines. The winner will also attend this year’s Super Bowl in New York and be crowned at the NFL Honors ceremony that takes place the night before the game. 

“It’s a true fantasy coach experience,” Kevin Berman, Lenovo’s director of North American advertising and marketing services, tells Marketing Daily. “The way our products are used in the football space is very much for fantasy football.”

Just as it has expanded the experience for the Fantasy Football winner, Lenovo has also expanded the promotional effort surrounding the program. Working with The Onion this year, the company has created a mockumentary Web series that follows one fantasy football coach through a “Tough Season.”

The series, which launched this week, will feature seven NFL players, including Matt Forte, Andrew Luck, Alfred Morris and Larry Fitzgerald. Running over eight episodes, the story follows fantasy coach Brad Blevins (of “Brad’s Awesome Team”) -- who has been at the bottom of his league for years -- in his quest to win the National Fantasy Athletics Association title. 

The Onion is the ideal partner because they bring the audience we [desire] with a sense of humor and approach that appeals to Millennials,” Berman says. “As opposed to last year, which was a bunch of related videos, this is a connected story.”

Unlike last year, when Lenovo launched its fantasy promotion in December, this year’s program takes advantage of the whole season, with the eight episodes parceled out over the course of the fall. The company (and its agency, DigitasLBi) has mapped out the season and predicted scenarios that may take advantage of happenings in the season to be communicated on via social media channels. (One possibility: Blevins using Twitter to communicate with Forte after a game, Berman says.)

“We’re filling an entire season of engagement,” he says. “We fantasy football players think we are real coaches.”

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