I learned something about branding last week that shouldn’t be entirely surprising.
When humans interact with humans as it relates to a brand, good things can happen.
I had the privilege to attend EA Play with sports broadcaster Charles Davis, with whom I’ve worked several years. It was the culmination of a year during which we kept Davis’ involvement with Madden NFL 17 quiet until Electronic Arts announced that he and Brandon Gaudin would comprise the game’s new announce team. (Madden NFL 17 will be available for purchase August 23.)
If you’re not part of the gaming community, you may consider Madden NFL as just another video game. At EA Play, during which all of Electronic Arts’ new games, including Madden NFL ’17, were previewed, you could sense it meant more to players. EA knew it. Those of us new to the scene quickly learned it.
Some brands say they listen, but …
There are textbook instances in which businesses say they cater to their customers but when you peel the layers, engagement goes as far as measuring analytics. The Madden franchise, at least from my vantage point during the last 12 months, solicits and acts on much what they learn from fans. Mix that attention with producers and talent meet-and-greets, and everybody feels part of the experience.
Davis and his Madden play-by-play partner Gaudin were greeted with excited gamers across the board at EA Play in Los Angeles. Devotees who were on hand to sample Madden ’17 chatted and took pictures with them, and many took to their smartphones to tweet words of gratitude for their work as well as their time at the rollout event.
It’s not unlike a professional athlete that stops to sign an autograph. Interacting with people can help create fans for life.
I knew little, but enough that loyal Madden players from the past would likely be loyal Madden competitors of the future, especially after they learned about the dynamic updates implemented by EA’s production team for the ’17 game (see some of them here: https://www.easports.com/madden-nfl/news/2016/madden-17-franchise-big-decisions-and-community). With Davis and Gaudin in the room, they learned first-hand of their new announcers’ respect for the community and their promise to do more than proverbially mail in their calls. Human interaction… It pays dividends.
New commentators in awe of Madden NFL’s community
I asked the rookie Madden NFL announcers who have spent hours in broadcast booths calling live college football and NFL games, what they thought of the EA Play experience. They were as wowed as the fans. They said they knew that Madden players were invested in the game; in fact, they went into the recording booth with that respect Day 1. They said that interacting with EA Play attendees made them appreciate the franchise even deeper and as a result, want to work harder on their fans’ behalf.
Social media is good; eye-to-eye contact is great
Social media is a great way to communicate with people and Davis and Gaudin have certainly reaped the benefits of chatting with their followers. When it comes down to true branding, however, few things validate consumer connection with a product or service like eye-to-eye contact.
As the duo heads back to the studio for last-minute tweaks before Madden 17’s August 2016 release and updates throughout the NFL season, Madden fans may rest assured that as much as the announcers love football, they appreciate and respect fans, real and virtual, even more.
© Gail Sideman; PUBLISIDE 2016