In the glossy, beautiful world of corporate marketing, consumers often understand that in order to pull off that perfect look — it takes studios and teams of people who expertly make paid actors or beyond-perfect product examples look beyond perfect. That hard work pays off when so many consumers notice the results.
So when rumors swirled that Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen was likely to grace the cover of “EA Sports Madden NFL 24,” all anyone could discuss is how Allen would actually be portrayed. Perhaps most-requested by fans was for Allen to be leaping, or otherwise doing typical Allen things. Simply put: things captured time and again by sports photographers everywhere.
To be sure, one exception to the above “picture-perfect” marketing paradigm is found in the world of sports photography. Certainly, very talented people are behind those cameras that capture so many of our favorite unforgettable moments — but they’re seldom posed shots and the result often relies on timing and an unspoken dash of luck. But to pull off what’s necessary for a franchise like Madden, it takes a bit of both techniques for something to stick. So how might a studio setting truly capture the genuine magic of a post=touchdown celebration?
Keep (almost) everyone in the dark.
When Josh Allen finally revealed the Madden cover news on Twitter, fans learned that two covers would be made available based on the level of game purchased. The image used for the deluxe edition of Madden 24 immediately sent Bills fans on a public quest to find out if those fans celebrating with Allen were genuine members of Bills Mafia, or simply hired actors.
As Bills beat reporter Matt Parrino of syracuse.com wrote in his article for newyorkupstate.com on Thursday about the “EA Sports Madden NFL 24” launch party, indeed — Per Allen — those fans are the genuine article.
“(EA Sports) brought fans from a Bills Mafia backer bar in L.A,” Allen said. “They didn’t tell them that they were gonna be on the cover so when we walked out, their reactions were real and genuine.”
It turns out that those fans were none other than members of the Los Angeles Bills Backers of Santa Monica. Parrino mentioned that Allen believes it wasn’t until the official cover reveal that those fans discovered just what their photo shoot with Allen was all about.
As Allen so often does, he coaxed the best out of his supporting cast, explaining:
“We had taken a couple takes and everybody was in the background,” Allen said. “And I’m like, ‘Guys, I scored a touchdown. Grab on to me, we’re winning the game right now. Let’s make it realistic.’ They had so much fun and I had so much fun shooting it with them.”
It’s been a long time coming, Bills Mafia. Historically, there haven’t been many high-profile marketing opportunities for the Buffalo Bills. Sure, the 90s Super Bowl teams saw exposure through a few commercials, and regional household staple items — as well an endless stream of amazing merchandise for the pre-Bills Mafia fan base. But to be featured on the biggest NFL video game of all time? Never a chance. Until, Josh Allen, of course.
By now, you’re likely well aware that Allen is the first Buffalo Bills player to grace the cover of Madden. But what you may not have realized is that with Bills Mafia featured with Allen for the deluxe edition, it’s the first time the video game franchise has chosen to include fans with the cover athlete.
As Allen noted in Parrino’s article:
“That’s a pretty special moment,” Allen said. “I think it’s so well represented with how passionate Bills Mafia is and how much we love them and how much they fuel us.”
With that said, all that’s left to do is celebrate after directing Josh Allen and the Bills to Super Bowl victory in Madden 24!