RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C.-NFL sponsor Lenovo today announced the launch of its comedy fantasy football video series, “Fantasy Online College” (FOC). The digital show can be seen at www.lenovo.com/NFL and on www.SBNation.com and stars eight star NFL players and comedian J.B. Smoove – with Smoove as the chancellor of the fictional FOC and Odell Beckham, Jr., Jamaal Charles, Eric Decker, Matt Forte, Pierre Garçon, Eddie Lacy, DeMarco Murray and Demaryius Thomas as the school’s professors. The FOC faculty’s focus: how to help their students improve their fantasy football skills. But the students soon find that their fantasy education is less about statistics and setting lineups, and more about verbally one-upping the competition and personal branding.
In creating the comedy series, Lenovo again teams creatively and digitally with global marketing and technology agency DigitasLBi – its partner the last three years – adding two new agencies, Vox Media’s brand marketing division Vox Creative and Above Average’s new sports comedy brand, The Kicker. The first two videos are titled “Recruitment” and “Fantasy Hero.” In “Recruitment,” an explanation of the entire series – in the vein of a typical campus-visit sales video – athletes appear as teachers in the classroom setting, all with special titles playing off their on-field personalities, including the former college track star, Charles, as professor of Advanced Velocity and Acceleration Studies and the high-flying Beckham, Jr. as Senior Professor, Aeronautic Miracles. In “Fantasy Hero,” a student falls asleep in class, and as part of an inspirational dream montage joins the players in dressing up as hair band-style ‘80s-era rockers, playing air guitar, doing some choreographed dancing, all in the hopes of pushing the student to do his fantasy best.
Lenovo’s director consumer marketing, North America, Kevin Berman shared that “As a brand, we are not taking ourselves too seriously. Lenovo products are tools for fun, and the brand is intentionally minimized by the on-screen talent. We wanted to play off the fact that while fantasy football is a serious business these days, in the end, it’s still a game, one that’s become integral to promoting the league to a new, younger group of fans in every NFL city.” Following up on that, Berman noted Lenovo’s new team partners for the season, supporting its FOC series, include the New York Giants, Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers.
FOC features Lenovo product and branding throughout and will have additional videos, including PSAs and mock product ads, all airing throughout the NFL season and supported by social posts (Facebook and Twitter) from Lenovo, the players, SB Nation and Vox Creative. Other marketing amplifications include high-impact media on NFL.com and Vox Media, including targeted banner ads, homepage and content takeovers – and pre-roll media. There will also be native SB Nation placements and SB Nation bi-weekly fantasy football blog posts that will promote the content. Along with living on SB Nation, the video series will also be on the outlet’s YouTube channel.
Lenovo will also have a major product and experiential giveaway component to their FOC campaign. This includes: a Grand Sweepstakes (Aug. 24-Jan. 3; trip for two to the Pro Bowl, including sideline access and coach meet and greets); Instant Wins slot machine called Lenovo’s Slot Receiver (Aug. 24-Jan. 17; select autograph merchandise from FOC athletes); Bi-Monthly Quizzes called F.A.T.s, or Fantasy Achievement Tests (Sept. 21-Oct. 19; Nov. 16-Nov. 30; Dec. 28-Jan. 17; select autograph merchandise) – as well as Monthly Challenges. There will be three Monthly Challenges: Touchdown You (Aug. 24), asking fans to show Lenovo their lip-synching skills by singing along to “Fantasy Hero” (winner gets to be on set of next FOC athlete shoot with Smoove as well as an engraved Lenovo product); Smack Talk 101 (Oct. 19), with fantasy coaches sending Lenovo their best lines for the chance to visit the NFL Network studios to get fantasy insight from their favorite experts, and; Professor Meme (Nov. 30), with players sending the brand hilarious memes featuring FOC professors (winner goes to Super Bowl 50).
Fantasy football has been at the core of Lenovo’s holistic and engaging user experience campaigns since 2012, with the brand seeing awareness among fantasy football players increase by 32 percentage points over that time. Two years ago, Lenovo launched two creative content platforms, Tough Season and Fantasy Coach of the Year – the former winning a 2014 Sports Clio and receiving 13.5 million views. The following season, video views topped 20 million.