Brands should overcome their fears and take smart risks in real time

NEW YORK -- At Advertising Week, Electronic Arts' Dana Marineau said that sometimes marketers have to throw a Hail Mary pass to keep brands relevant.

EA's Dana Marineau (left) joined thinkers from Google, Heat and Grow to talk about risk-taking in sports marketing.
EA's Dana Marineau (left) joined thinkers from Google, Heat and Grow to talk about risk-taking in sports marketing.

Marketers should take smart risks with brands that matter, even though it can be scary, according to Dana Marineau, vice president, advertising and design at Electronic Arts.

Speaking Advertising Week here Tuesday, Marineau discussed EA's recent "GIFerator" campaign for its National Football League (NFL) franchise game Madden, created in collaboration with Google as well as agencies Grow and Heat.

The campaign, which kicked off in August, enables fans to create GIFs using Madden's assets during each game, enabling the brand to tap into the real-time conversation and second-screening activity of fans watching live sports events.

"Putting our assets in other people's hands was scary," Marineau said. "We were not only giving our assets just to Google, but to the world."

Marineau said this meant she had to have difficult conversations with not only EA's head of development but also the NFL.

"We had to trust our partners and fans. We pushed really hard to give a voice to our fans, which was definitely not easy but was fun and challenging and worth every second," she said.

The campaign targeted young gamers and NFL fans, a bid to introduce a new generation to the Madden game. For the most part, the fans behaved themselves, she explained. But after Deadspin, the sports news website, made a series of controversial GIFs using the tool in an attempt to show its weakness, the brand was on "thin ice," Marineau said.

"The fans made fun and reactive and inspiring stuff. Of course some tried to mess with us, but that is what the internet is for," she said.

Mike Glaser, brand lead, creative partnerships at Google, said that data had an important part to play in the campaign to ensure the brand had the appropriate assets in place, ready to be rolled out in real time during key moments in the games, such as touchdowns. "At Google we see real-time marketing as a new window of opportunity, but real time can make folks nervous," he said.

Matt Stafford, digital creative lead at Heat, said that too often, brands experimenting in real-time marketing "are waiting for the big moment to happen or wishing for serendipity to hop onto." Because football is a very predictable game, brands looking to tap into the real time action do not need to wait for the "lights-off" moment and can prepare content ahead. 



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