In his twenty years in the NFL, Brett Favre set a number of records that he’s extremely proud of. He’s got the record for the most passes completed (6,300), the most passes attempted (10,169), the most games started (298, a record that may never be broken), and the most wins (186, a title he now shares with Peyton Manning). He’s also the sole owner of one record that he’s less thrilled with: his 336 career interceptions is the highest in NFL history. And in a campaign that started during the NFL playoffs and which culminates in the Super Bowl, we get a look at exactly why Favre tossed so many picks in his career: It was, as everyone expected, all Buffalo Wild Wings’ fault.
That’s the theory, at least, that Favre settles on in the final spot in the series. In the long-form ad “The Conspiracy,” Favre finds his body under the control of pale, hairless men in black suits who force him to throw the ball to the wrong receiver, fighting to understand what’s happening to him. When it’s revealed to be a nightmare, Favre nonetheless remains steadfast: His conspiracy board has all paths leading back to the hot wing chain. It’s an unusual campaign (few brands position themselves as creepy, eyebrow-less goons ruining the career of an all-American superstar), but it ties into one of the more successful spots in the brand’s history.
We started a campaign many years ago where Buffalo Wild Wings had this force over games to allow them to be extended, to go into overtime, to allow people to have more fun in a restaurant than they were having already,” Bob Ruhland, Buffalo Wild Wings’ VP of Marketing, recalls. “We had taken a hiatus from them to focus on our food and beverages, but it’s something that was popular socially with everyone from professional athletes to our fans–‘Hit the button, make the game go into overtime!’–so we felt that the time was right to talk about it this year, and to resurrect the campaign going into spring.”
Those ads were certainly memorable–when unusual things happen in the middle of a sporting event, search “buffalo wild wings” on Twitter and you’ll see how well they’re remembered–and Favre presented the brand with an opportunity they couldn’t resist.
“Brett is so iconic, and we wanted somebody who had the right to question whether there’s a conspiracy going on here,” Ruhland says. “It had to be somebody who had that gunslinger attitude that Brett has. Brett never felt that his career was over. He felt he could come back and throw another touchdown. He could be the quarterback of another winning drive. Even later in his career, he was confident that he was, like, a mystical force that could drive something to happen. After we did a lot of vetting of other athletes, it became clear to us that Brett was the right person to focus on with his 336 career interceptions, and the fact that he was going into the Hall of Fame last year. We feel that we’re using Brett in a way that’s so much on-point with how Brett should be used. He’s focusing on the fact that this is one of the most iconic quarterbacks in the history of the game. We felt that he was a perfect person who could be stewing about this wondering, and throwing footballs at a scarecrow saying, ‘It wasn’t me, somebody else had to be at fault here.’”
Favre’s an interesting figure; he’s been retired for six seasons now, but he’s still recognizable enough that he can carry campaigns for, say, razors and jeans even after he’s been out of the game long enough to be enshrined in Canton. And it doesn’t hurt that Favre’s career has brought him to the screen in funny ways before–even if his turn in There’s Something About Mary was a while back now, too.
“His acting was fantastic,” says Billy Jurewicz, CEO of Space150 and creative lead for the campaign. “You know Brett and his look, but nobody in advertising has really pushed him into a more whimsical or playful role before. So we wrote that script to be simple lines that got a great visual and performance out of Brett. I think America is really gonna like to see that side of Brett, as well.”