Verizon’s Live #TheCall Sees NFL Draft Dreams Come True

Verizon, the presenting sponsor of NFL Network’s three-day Draft coverage, streamed the league’s live coverage to its mobile users and, while this rights package gave it on-air signage throughout the coverage, the most compelling strand of its activation (and the one with most synergy to its services) was its streaming service promo ‘#TheCall’.


This initiative was simple – essentially a set of real time clips and supporting short films – yet powerfully emotional.


Verizon streamed online film in real time of players receiving that crucial phone call finally telling them their dream has come true and they have been drafted into the NFL.


The initiative was promoted via a pre-Draft TV spot,



The campaign followed three hopeful draftees – Jarvis Landry, Bruce Ellington and Terrance West – in their pursuit of The Call and each short stream showing #TheCall itself was actually preceded by a supporting, lead-in background film charting each player’s journey to the draft which had been posted on Verizon’s YouTube channel.


Then Verizon streamed Jarvis Landry as he gets ‘#TheCall’ from the Miami Dolphins,



which brought a closing moment to the brand’s documentary webfilm about Landry’s ‘Journey to #TheCall’.



Similarly, West got #TheCall from the Cleveland Browns,



which also followed his supporting online video,



and Ellington got that good news call too from the San Francisco 49ers,



after a four-minute movie was made of his journey to the NFL.



In addition to its position as co-presenting sponsor on NFL.com (which saw it activate around mock drafts), the NFL telecoms partner Verizon’s ‘Draft Dream’ activation is essentially a nationwide sweepstakes promotion which engages fans by offering three winners a chance to announce third round picks for their team.


See NFL online film of Verizon sweepstakes winner and redskins fan announce a pick here.




The 2014 Draft saw more NFL commercial partners activate than ever before – from Verizon Wireless’ ‘Draft Dream’  to Bud Light’s ‘Draft Blue Room’  – partly because the move to prime-time TV (which happened three years back) has attracted bigger audiences and sold more tickets to the Radio City Music hall three-day extravaganza.


‘We’re at historic levels of activation and that’s because the draft is now more open and accessible than ever to sponsors and fans,’ says NFL VP Of Fan Strategy & Marketing Peter O’Reilly.


‘The draft used to feel like just another meeting, and we always wanted to get to the point where you couldn’t get a ticket,’ explains NFL VP of Entertainment Marketing and Promotions Tracy Perlman.


‘People are asking, but I don’t have any tickets, and that’s because we’ve made it something fans and sponsors want to be part of.’


The entire second round of the draft is sponsored by NFL beer partner Bud Light, which also runs on-premises Draft party promotions in bars around the US and also is the presenting sponsor of ESPN’s draft coverage and its activation spans draft crawls, fan questions from the Bud Light Facebook page and interviews from the branded Bud Light ‘Blue Room’ (a branded green room where college players hoping to be drafted sit and await their fate amidst intense media scrutiny.


Other ESPN draft sponsors include  GM, Nike, AT&T, Axe, Fiat, Geico, Jim Beam and Samsung.


While Verizon activated around the third round, franchise commercial partners get their own chance to activate in the fourth round – with 24 of the 32 teams sending guests (many chosen via local sponsor activation competitions) to announce selections.


As well as practically wrapping the Draft venue, New York’s Radio City Music hall, in NFL and sponsor branded signage, the activation spreads right across the city from taxi top ads, to subway signage, street pole banners and bus-side ads.


On-field official NFL licensees Nike and New Era are also integrated into the event.


Nike named team jerseys are front and centre of the PR picture opportunities for each player and their apparel is showcased and sold in the NFL’s 12,000-square-foot pop-up store which opened for the month prior to the Draft and which hosts a red carpet Draft Day in-store event.


A series of experiential initiatives and events also run through the lead-up to the Draft – from the NFL ‘Play 60 Youth Football Festival’,



plus Nike’s annual youth football leadership conference and the launch of Electronic Arts’ ‘Madden NFL 15’ cover athlete vote campaign.


On Draft day EA, the league’s official gaming partner, rolls out its marketing for the fans and gamers vote for the cover star for the next edition of ‘Madden NFL’.


The competition sees 16 of the season’s best and brightest players square off in a bracket to determine who will front the new game’s cover and packaging.


Fans can discuss, debate and vote at ESPN.com/maddenvote and on social platforms using @ESPNNFL, #MaddenCover and on the NFL on ESPN Facebook page.


There are also round-by-round NFL Live and ESPN #MaddenCover programmes with expert analysis and conversation and the overall winner will be announced live in LA on 6 June.




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