In its fourth year as an NFL sponsor Lenovo is opening its football season marketing with a comic campaign focusing on Fantasy Football and starring some of the sports’ biggest names.
At a time of year when many are heading off to college, the Chinese computer maker has launched an online video series based around its (fictional) Fantasy Online College (FOC).
The campaign, developed in partnership with agency Digitas, focuses on a comedy college dedicated to teaching students about fantasy football where Def Jam comedian JB Smoove is the chancellor and the faculty includes the New York Giants’ Odell Beckham, Jr and the Chicago Bears’ Matt Forte.
Running back Forte teaches ‘Chicago History’ and compares himself to other notable Chicagoans such as Barack Obama, while wide receiver Beckham Jr. is senior professor of aeronautic miracles.
Other NFL stars who teach at the university are Demaryius Thomas, Matt Forte, Jamaal Charles and Eddie Lacy.
Professor Beckham’s jokes in the late August launch spot include the line that the school can’t give you a degree because ‘Taylor Swift doesn’t have one. Why should you?’
Indeed, all you need to get into FOC is to: ‘Demonstrate a passion for learning and growth regardless of your skill level. The most important criteria we use for recruiting new students is their potential to buy laptops. Actually, that’s the only criteria’.
The first two films are ‘Recruitment’ (which introduces the series via a campus-visit sales video),
and ‘Fantasy Hero’ (in which a student falls asleep in class and dreams of joining the players in an 80’s -style band)
These are followed by a series of spots led by ‘Larry’ (Fantasy Football’s Most Selfish Player’’.
The entire FOC series features Lenovo product and branding throughout and spans comic videos, mock public service announcements and fake product ads airing throughout the NFL season.
These are supported by social posts (Facebook and Twitter) from Lenovo, the players themselves and media partners SB Nation and Vox Creative.
Indeed, partnerships forma key p[art of the campaign planning with content running not only on Lenovo and NFL platforms, but also across SB Nation and Vox Media with targeted banner ads, homepage and content takeovers and pre-roll media.
Indeed, the initiative includes native SB Nation placements and SB Nation bi-weekly fantasy football blog posts that will promote the content.
Lenovo is also rolling out a product and experiential giveaway component to the FOC campaign which includes a Pro-Bowl ticket sweepstakes and merchandising giveaways.
The ‘Get Schooled’ (http://lenovo.com/NFL) campaign is part of Lenovo’s ongoing objective of increasing brand recognition amongst millennials – especially promoting its Yoga line of laptop and tablet hybrids.
Beckham, Forte and Dallas running back Demarco Murray all also encourage fantasy owners to tweet them on game day when their performance is lacking.
‘Talking with my fantasy owners is the most important thing in my life … Feel free to contact me any time, with foul language in all caps — we know that’s just passion,’ say the three NFL stars before giving out their Twitter handles.
‘We look at things like video views, retweets and reposts as an increase in overall fan awareness,’ explains Lenovo consumer marketing director Kevin Berman.
‘We think of millennials as those who have had tech at their fingertips since the day they were born, or who have had internet for most of their lives.’
‘As a brand, we are not taking ourselves too seriously. Lenovo products are tools for fun, and the brand is intentionally minimized by the on-screen talent,m’ says Berman about the campaign’s comic tone.
‘We wanted to play off the fact that while fantasy football is a serious business these days, in the end, it’s still a game, one that’s become integral to promoting the league to a new, younger group of fans in every NFL city.’
The campaign is running during the final weeks of NFL pre-season – when most fantasy football players tune in to watch in order to finalise their fantasy draft line-ups for the season.
Indeed, the timing of this campaign neatly links the start of the new NFL season and the ‘back-to-school/college’ computer buying period.
In addition to agency DigitasLBi, Lenovo worked on the campaign with Vox Creative and Above Average’s ‘The Kicker’, while the lead spot was directed by Heath Cullens.
Indeed the company’s own data suggests that since becoming an NFL sponsor in 2012, Lenovo has increased its brand awareness among fantasy football players by 32%.
Lenovo, formerly IBM’s computer boxmaker business, has been the official laptop, notebook, desktop and workstation sponsor of the NFL since 2012
It may now be a Chinese owned brand, but this campaign certainly sees Lenovo demonstrate a thorough understanding of the cultural craziness of US fantasy football culture.
Understanding a sport’s culture is, of course, vital for any sponsor.
As is activating rights through this kind of highly shareable content.
This year’s Lenovo NFL season work follows last year’s award-winning ‘Tough Season’ mockumentary series with The Onion – which generated 20 million YouTube views and scooped a Sports Clio award.
In addition to its official NFL league partnership, Lenovo is also a sponsor of several teams including the New York Giants, Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers.
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