The NFL game between the Atlanta Falcons and Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday 1st October made itself toy-sized. Viewers at home had a choice between traditionally watching the game from Wembley Stadium, or a new option – watching a fully animated version, live from the floor of Andy’s room in the Toy Story universe.
ESPN, dubbing the broadcast as ‘Toy Story Funday Football’, intended to inspire younger viewers, as well as reaching older audiences through nostalgia marketing. And, it appears to have worked – Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Slinky Dog, and other familiar characters took to the screens of many children and adults alike.
With the players’ movements animated in real-time, through player-tracking data enabled by the NFL’s Next Gen Stats system and Beyond Sports, viewers could watch the game invaded moment-for-moment with imagination. Aliens coming down from the sky, dropping the ball into the line of scrimmage, animated announcers, Slinky Dog as the down and distance marker, a daredevil half-time motorcycle jump from Duke Caboom; the game was weird, wacky, and wonderful. Not without glitches, however, leading to NFL fans having differing opinions on the broadcast.
Why did ESPN choose to take their game to the Toy Story universe?
As a marketing strategy, it was a great move. Getting people talking on social media – even if it’s in debate – is a foolproof way to expand your audience. Nostalgia marketing is an incredibly effective marketing tool, forging emotional connections through familiar concepts from previous decades. ESPN successfully reached new viewers, and fingers crossed, Toy Story lovers might enjoy a newfound football passion.
At Puddle, we’re marketing experts, and we know how to take your business to the next level. Whether it’s through animated aliens or more traditional marketing methods, we’ll get your target audience talking.
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