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NFL Goes Off Script For Season-Long Campaign

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For generations, the mutterings of fans who witnessed improbable on-field moments fueled the myth that National Football League Games were scripted. When former NFL player Arian Foster claimed earlier this year that he was handed such a script, that myth metastasized into memes.

Within about an hour of Foster’s statement, 72andSunny agency founder Glenn Cole and executive creative director Zach Hilder thought about turning those memes into a sports marketing campaign. 

“He and I had a chat about it, like, ‘That would be an amazing mythology—building on the conspiracy theory would be really fantastic,’” Cole said. “But we didn’t know what our brief would or should be, so we just put it aside.”

By midsummer, however, 72andSunny began talking with their longtime partners at the NFL about framing the NFL not simply as a sports option for fans, but as an entertainment option for families. For casual fans less invested in the plays and players and diehards who knew the league inside and out, labeling far-fetched plays or feats “scripted” was a bit of fun, memeworthy common ground. If NFL commissioner Roger Goodell could joke about it in the offseason, there was no reason for 72andSunny not to pitch it to league marketers.

“If I’m being perfectly candid, it wasn’t exactly on brief,” said NFL CMO Tim Ellis. “When we saw it, my immediate feedback was like, ‘Alright, guys, we’re not on brief, but I frickin’ love this campaign, so we’re gonna do it anyway.’”

After being teased out on the NFL’s social media, the “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up” campaign launched on Amazon Prime Video during a Thursday Night Football game.

Featuring actor and comedian Keegan-Michael Key at a table read of the 2023 NFL season script—along with NFL players Travis and Jason Kelce, Patrick Mahomes, Kirk Cousins, DK Metcalf, Jalen Ramsey and Dexter Lawrence—the campaign will feature 16 different spots throughout the season. 

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