Madden NFL 10: An Ad Campaign That Fights to Win

San Francisco — Freestyle Interactive President Julian Aldridge says an interruptive ad typically works under limited scenarios: when it’s entertaining or unexpected.

And Freestyle, a digital agency, set out to do both when it teamed up with Heat, a full-service agency, to create an ad campaign for Electronic Arts’ “Madden NFL 10” football video game.

The most prominent ad that delivers on the game’s slogan, “Fight for every yard,” was a masthead banner depicting an image of a football player in a YouTube video. When the ad was activated, the football player began to run across the home page, moving along with the video window and “crushing” other elements on the page before he’s tackled. That custom ad appeared on YouTube’s homepage for 24 hours on Friday, Aug. 14, timed to coincide with the release of the video game at 12:01 that day.

“The biggest competitor to this year’s Madden is last year’s Madden,” Aldridge said an e-mail that he wrote to his colleagues and shared with ClickZ News. So the campaign aimed to get existing fans of Madden and potentially new fans to upgrade to the latest edition of Madden.

To win over existing fans, the ads had to bring attention to new features in “Madden NFL 10” in an engaging and creative way, said Mike Denzler, VP, operations and business development at Freestyle.

A new feature is called “Pro-Tak,” animation technology that allows for three-to-nine man pile-ups, fumble pile-ups, and a new blocking system. Offensive players, for instance, can “push” the pile forward as they work to move a yard or more down the field to make a first down — or better yet, a touch down.

According to Aldridge, the masthead banner ad on YouTube was a first because YouTube had never before allowed an advertiser to interact with “copy” on its home page. Because the National Football League’s logo was “crushed” in the ad, Freestyle Interactive had to get the league’s permission in advance.

The execution is reminiscent of an earlier YouTube ad promoting 2008 Wii release “Wario Land: Shake It!” In that ad, viewable here, the video jostles and shakes the YouTube video player and surrounding page elements, seeming to wreak havoc on the whole Web site.

The campaign for “Madden NFL 10” also included a home page takeover ad on ESPN.com and a “push over” expandable unit that appeared on IGN.com.

Scott Redick is the campaign’s senior planner; Chris Gatewood is creative director, and Andy Slopsema is art director.

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