Madden 21 Introduces The Spokesplayer – A Look Into EA Sports’ Marketing Blitz

We spoke to EJ Schultz over at Ad Age on our new campaign for the release of Madden 21.

Check out the article below: 

There are few more-reliable events on the sports marketing calendar than EA Sports plugging its latest “Madden NFL” video game every August with celebrity-filled, big production campaigns that resemble the flashiest of Super Bowl ads. DJ Khaled, Nicki Minaj, Kevin Hart and Paul Rudd are among the stars that have appeared in ads in recent years, with the brand replicating everything from a mini-musical to a movie trailer.

But this year, the marketer and agency Johannes Leonardo are plotting waves of content—rather than one big splash—in a bid to pump out real-time responses to what could be one of the craziest seasons in National Football League history with the pandemic casting a cloud of uncertainty over the league.

The effort, which kicks off today, stars actor Keraun Harris, a.k.a “King Keraun,” a TikTok and Instagram phenom whose skills at creating quick-hit comedic posts are expected to key a season-long campaign. “We wanted to create something that has a long-lasting effect—a platform more than a campaign or one-hit wonder,” says Omid Amidi, the agency’s creative director on the account.


The video game, whose marketing has long tapped into pop culture, is also seizing on a subtle but noticeable shift in the public persona of the NFL’s top stars. The idea, says Amidi, playing into the idea that today’s athletes are more into “creating highlights than soundbites,” is a departure from the over-the-top antics of previous-generation standouts like Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson and Terrell Owens, who infamously once conducted a press conference in his driveway, shirtless, while doing sit ups.

In Madden’s campaign Harris plays a “spokesplayer,” a made-up label meant to represent a consigliere-type figure to the game’s top stars, who, in the campaign’s point-of-view, are more into their on-field performance than making a splash off of it. “He’s not a PR person, he’s not an agent, he’s more like this generation’s Worldwide Wes,” says Amidi, referring to William Wesley, the uber-connected but somewhat mysterious figure known for his deep relationships with National Basketball Association players.

The first ad shows the spokesplayer taking calls from Cam Newton, Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson—the cover star of “Madden NFL 21”—while explaining that he’s “here to remind you about these boys’ greatness, because they are too busy creating.” (The spot is full of Easter eggs, like a “clams” reference that flicks at Newton’s move to the New England Patriots.)

“This generation of Madden NFL players and NFL superstars, like Lamar Jackson, are defined by an ambition and confidence to ‘Go All Out’ on the field and leave their mark … so much so that they don’t have time for all that talking,” Paul Marr, senior director of creative at EA Sports, said in a statement to Ad Age.

A season of uncertainty

The campaign comes as EA Sports, like all brands affiliated with the NFL, is about to enter a season that could put a premium on marketing agility. The league plans to play a full slate of games—starting with the Sept. 10 opener—but things could quickly deteriorate if there is a significant coronavirus outbreak.

EA Sports, like most video game makers, has benefited from the pandemic, with locked-down consumers upping their game play to cure boredom. Madden NFL 20, released last year, had what EA Sports CEO Andrew Wilson in a July earnings call described as “an incredible Q1, building on what is already the biggest year ever for our Madden franchise.” Marr says “unique players [are] growing by 30 percent year over year,” with “monthly average players reaching an all-time high.”