This year, Madden Season promises to be epic.
Moving into its second year of promoting a new game’s launch as “Madden Season,” actor Dave Franco returns to play the role of “Blade Johnson” in a trailer for “Madden: the Movie.” Moving forward from last year (when Franco took on rival/frenemy Kevin Hart’s challenge to the game), Franco plays a mustachioed and wavy-haired 70’s-era action hero who is challenged to take on a kidnapper in Madden to rescue his girlfriend. (“Their season was innocent,” says a voiceover. “But one day, everything changed. Forever.”) The four-minute preview builds from there, playing on different movie styles (Bollywood, coming-of-age tropes, over-the-top training montages, CGI dinosaurs, and massive explosions are all represented).
“It wasn’t our intent to be super reference heavy,” Warren Cockrel, creative director at EA Sports’ agency Heat, tells Marketing Daily. “But we freed ourselves to look at how we could make the sequences better.”
Included in the preview are actor Christopher Mintz-Plasse (of “Superbad,” playing “Janet”), NFL stars Rob Gronkowski (“Half-top”), Julio Jones (“Trick Montalban”), Antonio Brown (“Sticky Bun”), Colin Kaepernick (“Al Pacino from ‘Scent of a Woman’”) and coach Rex Ryan (“Lil’ Pepper”). The addition of NFL notables in character roles (as opposed to in cameos) is one of the big changes from last year.
“We think it’s a simple tale of Dave Franco, assembling a bunch of help to take on a new rival,” Dana Marineau, vice president of the global creative team at Electronic Arts, tells Marketing Daily. “We’re really proud of the leap this has taken from the rap parody of last year.”
Introduced last fall, EA and Heat created “Madden Season” as a celebration of a time when friends become rivals to challenge in a head-to-head sports game. The campaign won Gold and Silver Lions at the Cannes Advertising Festival last year.
“We felt like we’d done something different and set the bar high last year,” says Anna Rowland, creative director at Heat. “[We kept] the core elements, which is about rivalry and about things things people want to share virally and be entertained.”
This year’s task was to make the campaign bigger and more epic, Marineau says. Thus, the over-the-top action movie trailer and CGI effects. “This definitely takes Madden to a new and exciting level,”. “[As a brand], Madden has the swagger and awareness to take it to fun new places.”
The four-minute commercial will also be broken down into shorter elements (showing off some of the different styles), to run in different areas to attract more attention, Marineau says.