NBC Hoping Viral EPL Ad Helps Draw New Fans As Net Prepares To Kick Off Coverage
NBC Sports Group’s comedic EPL ad featuring actor Jason Sudeikis has gone viral since it debuted two weeks ago, and the men behind the creative are confident it will attract new viewers to the sport. The ad, which was broken into two 30-second spots and a five-minute piece, was crafted by Brooklyn Brothers, N.Y., and now has well over 4 million YouTube views. It launched online Aug. 2. before debuting on NBC during its broadcast of the Dolphins-Cowboys Pro Football HOF game the next day and will run at least through the end of the month. Brooklyn Brothers Founder & Creative Dir Guy Barnett said that the idea to utilize Sudeikis came about after he saw an "SNL" sketch. Barnett thought the tongue-in-cheek concept of Sudeikis playing an American football coach named Ted Lasso would be a good fit for NBC as it prepared for its first year broadcasting the league. When NBC approached Sudeikis about being in the ad, he was into the idea from the start. Barnett: "We knew he had played a similar character on 'Saturday Night Live' that was similar to Ted, so we knew he would be perfect for it." However, NBC Sports Senior VP/Marketing Bill Bergofin said the network and agency treaded carefully with just how light-hearted the ad became because they wanted hardcore fans of the EPL to embrace it as well. "We wanted to be authentic to the sport, and while this was geared to (new fans), it had to be relatable to the core fan and work for everybody," Bergofin said. "One of the real things for me was that the core fan embraced it as much as people who we were trying to bring in from the periphery."
AD DRAWS EYES IN ENGLAND: The spot features Lasso thinking he is being sent across the pond to coach an American football team, only to learn he has been placed in charge of EPL club Tottenham Hotspur. The buzz over Lasso has been so considerable -- particularly in the U.K. -- that the BBC jokingly asked the fictional character to predict the weekend's games on one of its regular online segments. When asked whether the spot was meant to highlight NBC’s entrance into the soccer realm, Barnett said, "It’s more about the fan’s journey than it is NBC’s journey. I think what we we’re trying to demonstrate was coming to the sport and showing the nuances and differences between the two kinds of football." Bergofin said of the rationale behind the ad, "We can’t just make people watch sports; we have to make people love the sport and love the game. So it’s a broader challenge, and to see the palpable buzz for the Premier League, and to see (the ad) continue have that kind of impact, is really rewarding.” However, both men acknowledged that, despite the ad's seemingly successful run thus far, the ultimate proof of whether it served its purpose or not will be borne out in the form of ratings. "You go into these things with high hopes of ... growing the sport. I think we achieved that," Barnett said.