This time last year, Kevin Hart and Dave Franco illustrated the full power of their gaming rivalry to launch EA Sports’ Madden 15 with a wacky musical number that included flagrant vehicular vandalism, a bit of physical violence, some light stalking, and an epic party that ended with Franco’s house on fire. Now, after a couple of 15-second teasers for Madden 16, the brand turns the batsh*t crazy up to 11 with an action movie trailer that makes The Expendables look like The English Patient.
Madden: The Movie, from agency Heat, VFX shop MPC LA, and directed by Wayne McClammy, stars a returning Dave Franco–now looking like an extra from The Warriors–and reunites him with frequent comedy collaborator Christopher Mintz-Plasse, as well as a laundry list of NFL stars, including Rob Gronkowski, Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, Colin Kaepernick and Bills head coach Rex Ryan, and former WWE wrestler AJ Brooks. Mere words may be unable to do what transpires justice, so just watch it and know that it will do nothing to dispel any notion that Madden is every stoner’s favorite sport.
Vice president of EA Sports’ global creative team Dana Marineau says Madden: The Movie is a natural extension of last year’s film. “This just takes things to another over-the-top level,” she says. “Our goal is always to create something fans will love and want to be a part of, and this is just a reflection of who our audience is and the world we live in. Madden has the swagger and cultural relevance in football that allows us to have fun with the brand and put this kind of content out into the world.”
Not every brand could pull off Kaepernick as Al Pacino from Scent of a Woman (“Hoo-aahh!“), Gronkowski using a football cannon, gratuitous neck punching from Julio Jones, and a T-rex. But here we are.
It’s now customary for game franchises to launch with a marquee web film, with genre games often reaching out of their subject comfort zone using laughs to make the proverbial tent bigger. Marineau says this ad was custom built for sharing on the Internet. “Not only is there this long-form story, but also very specific pieces of creative for every type of distribution channel,” she says. “Whether that’s autoplay ads for Facebook, no-skip ads for YouTube, video for Instagram, Vine, Twitter–the idea was to create a piece of culture around Madden that is right where our fans live and on all the platforms they consume content.”
There are edited versions of the original trailer for a 30-second TV spot, GIFs, and short-form stuff shot specifically for other platforms, like Gronk dancing for six seconds and Rex Ryan doing the Bollywood sequence specifically for his own and the Buffalo Bills’ Instagram channel. “We want to make a story people want to talk about, be a part of, relate to, then break it down into pieces where they can share it in different places,” says Marineau.
Another component will be unveiled at the start of the NFL season that Marineau says is “absolutely related to the Madden movie” and will allow fans to interact with Madden in a very real-time manner.
“Madden Season” was the most viewed piece of content in EA history, and won eight Cannes Lions, including a Gold Lion for Branded Content and Entertainment. But just as it surpasses its level of adrenaline-rush absurdity, don’t be surprised if Madden: The Movie beats out its predecessor in every other category as well.