SBD/April 26, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

Calvin Johnson Lands "Madden NFL 13" Cover, Defeating Cam Newton In Finals

Johnson's selection is announced during "SportsNation" special in Times Square
Lions WR Calvin Johnson was named the cover athlete for EA Sports' "Madden NFL 13," capturing the fan vote in a 52%-48% final against Panthers QB Cam Newton. Johnson's selection was announced during a special on-site production of ESPN's "SportsNation" in Times Square, with Johnson's photo shoot taking place immediately after. The fan vote for the "Madden" video game cover, expanded this year to a 64-player field, drew 19.6 million votes, 54% higher than the 12.7 million last year, and nearly 652,000 votes in the Johnson-Newton final alone. Beyond the cover shoot last night, Johnson will participate in a frenetic promotional schedule this week. He will announce the Lions' first-round selection tonight at the NFL Draft, participate in the league's annual pre-draft luncheon and appear tomorrow night on CBS' "Late Show." For EA Sports, the third iteration of the "Madden" fan vote marked another success of the program that has since been expanded to several other titles in its portfolio. "This year's cover voting campaign had more rounds, more players and more votes than ever before, generating great conversations and debates amongst the fans and NFL players across multiple ESPN platforms and throughout social media," said EA Sports Dir of Marketing Anthony Stevenson. "Madden NFL 13" will be released Aug. 28 (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).

COVER MATERIAL: As the cover was unveiled, Johnson said he was “shocked" to see himself on the game cover. Johnson: “Everybody’s going to want the game, so I need EA to supply me with dozens of games” (“SportsNation,” ESPN2, 4/25). In Charlotte, Scott Fowler notes Newton "looked totally surprised when Johnson won, then recovered quickly." Newton joked to the audience, "I thought you guys loved me!" But Newton "cared about losing," as he has "played the various incarnations of the Madden NFL franchise for years and believed" that he was the "ideal candidate for the cover." Newton had "Cam-paigned" for the cover with a homemade video that has been viewed more than 154,000 times on YouTube (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/26).

AVOIDING THE CURSE? ESPN's Colin Cowherd referenced the "Madden curse" before unveiling the cover yesterday, saying, "Through the years, there has been this sort of cover jinx. ... Do you buy into jinxes?” Newton: “No. You do what you got to do, there won’t be no jinx” ("SportsNation," ESPN2, 4/25). 
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