Super Bowl Sunday means two things for most Americans: Snacks and Football. EA Sports is hoping to capitalize on the conversation by partnering with Doritos to give fans the chance to choose the cover athlete for the upcoming version of its popular gaming franchise, "Madden NFL 11."
"To associate our brand with Doritos is an honor, and it's a great opportunity to talk about our brand on the product," Chris Erb, senior director of marketing partnerships for EA Sports, tells Marketing Daily. "They're going to sell a lot of chips, and we're going to be a part of that. The timing is perfect."
Beginning this week, promotions on Doritos Cool Ranch and Nacho Cheese bags will encourage people to log on to www.doritoschangethegame.com to vote for one of three nominees to grace the game's cover next year: quarterback Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints); wide receiver Reggie Wayne (Indianapolis Colts) or defensive end Jared Allen (Minnesota Vikings). This is the first time that consumers have been allowed to choose which athlete will grace the cover of the game -- an honor that comes with bragging rights both for the player and fans of his team.
"From a marketing perspective, the Super Bowl is the biggest event for any year, and then football talk dies down," Erb says. "For the Madden brand, we don't really have a lot of say during that time. The fun thing about this program is it's going to build a lot of excitement building up to the program."
In addition to the on-bag promotion, both EA and Doritos will use Facebook and their online gaming communities to promote the contest. The companies are also sponsoring a sweepstakes offering a trip to the NFL 2010 draft, where the cover will be unveiled.
"We really want to give the fans an opportunity to be a part of the process," Erb says. "It doesn't matter who you put on the cover -- there's always going to be people who say what a great decision, and some who say it's a bad decision."
While EA Sports has engaged other companies (such as Pepsi, 7-Eleven and KFC) to expand the reach of Madden beyond the traditional launch window of the game, the Doritos opportunity fits particularly well within the franchise's demographic, Erb says.
"These guys are really into gaming, and they're really into football; they're a perfect partner for us," Erb says. "Doritos gives us a much louder voice. It was important for us to get a partner [with the marketing muscle] that could get the promotion out there."
EA Sports will also engage Doritos for some of its other games throughout the year, Erb says. He would not reveal specifics. "This isn't going to be a one-time thing with Doritos," he says. "This is a full-year deal with EA Sports and Doritos."