EA Sports Scores Big With Viral Madden Campaign

In an inspired marketing scheme designed to ramp up their latest release of Madden 25, EA Sports capitalized on one of the hottest rivalries in football between the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers in week two of the NFL season. The company took advantage of the publicity surrounding the highly anticipated match-up featuring star quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick by building a corresponding advertising and social media campaign. They created a television commercial showing the stars playing Madden 25 side-by-side while betting on the outcome of their own game. The loser would have to shave off an eyebrow.

The plan proved to be an overwhelming success. Rabid fans took to Twitter to debate the outcome of the game using the custom #ColinVsRussell hashtag developed by EA Sports. The commercial amassed thousands of hits on YouTube, and websites and sports bloggers across the country chimed in on the conversation.

The buzz surrounding this campaign was impressive; while the Madden series is a well-respected video game brand with many fans, new releases aren’t typically met with this much feverish excitement.

So what are the takeaways for companies looking to build their own brand awareness and develop an effective marketing and social media campaign? Here are three lessons to be learned from “The Bet.”

Create Brand Continuity

Developing a cohesive and consistent brand is one of the best ways to achieve success.

  1. Maintain your message across multiple channels. Use a variety of online and print media to communicate with potential customers. Don’t forget that social media can have a big impact on consumer reach.
  2. Know your audience. Companies that tailor their messages to appeal to a target audience form a better connection with them.
  3. Identify a theme. Logos, taglines, graphics, colors, and tones should remain consistent across the board. This allows for an easily recognizable campaign.
  4. Lather, rinse, repeat. The more consumers see or hear a particular message, the more likely it is to stick in their minds and serve as a call to action.

Keep Consumers Engaged

EA Sports’ marketing team effectively created links among different components of its campaign that kept consumers coming back for more. The commercial featured the #ColinVsRussell hashtag along with an invitation for fans to continue the conversation online.

As a result, “The Bet” became a trending topic on Twitter leading up to, during, and following game day. Facebook posts featuring the commercials alongside catchy teaser lines collected tens of thousands of likes, shares, and comments. Keeping fans engaged and interactive allowed EA Sports to reach new audiences and benefit from the growing impact of social share, which ultimately made the campaign go viral. By the time the game aired, fans across the country were familiar with the terms of “The Bet” and became more invested in the final score.

Follow Through on Your Promises

If there is one major flaw in this campaign, it’s that “The Bet” proved to be false. Although a spot was aired that showed losing quarterback Kaepernick “shaving” his eyebrow (the 49ers lost in a blowout, 29-3), it was clear to viewers that he wasn’t following through in real life. While this certainly raised a few hackles and caused a minor controversy, it wasn’t a true detriment to the campaign.

Take note, though, that making promises sets consumer expectations that a company is going to deliver on something. Not keeping those promises can lead to customer mistrust, which can harm a brand in both the short and long term. If consumers perceive that a brand is untrustworthy, they are much more likely to view it in a negative light. That hardly translates into increased revenue.

Only time will tell if “The Bet” proves to be a sales success for Madden 25. For now, companies seeking improved consumer engagement, large-scale brand awareness, and results-oriented social media strategies should study this and similar campaigns’ tactics and learn to thrive in our consumer-driven world.

What did you think of the Kaepernick vs. Wilson eyebrow campaign? Did you follow the action live or take sides? Comment below or tweet us @Rocket_Post.