The consistent allure of sports is in the pursuit of an unknown outcome. If a competitor or team wins the championship, can they do it again? If they lose, can they come back again and win? The scenario is played out every single day or every single year across every professional sport. Billions of dollars in TV rights and fan tickets, year in and year out, are a testament to its lasting attraction.
It’s also the genius of FanDuel’s 2024 Super Bowl ad strategy.
Last year, the fantasy sports and betting platform created a monthlong campaign that culminated in a live Super Bowl ad starring former Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski trying to kick a field goal to give fans who made a Super Bowl bet on FanDuel’s Sportsbook a chance to share $10 million. Gronk missed.
Participants in the marketing promo still got their share of the winnings, but now Gronk wants a second attempt. This week, FanDuel launched a new spot called “Again.” Once again created by agency Wieden+Kennedy, we find ourselves in a boardroom of marketers discussing FanDuel’s 2024 big-game strategy.
Sadly for John Cena, FanDuel has chosen to do the same thing again and give Gronk the chance to redeem himself during this year’s Super Bowl. The only difference between the “Kick of Destiny 2” and its predecessor is now fans can pick between him making or missing the kick, and Carl Weathers has replaced Adam Vinatieri as his kicking coach. Not sure what Weathers knows that the Super Bowl-winning placekicker doesn’t, but who knows, maybe it’s all in the hips.
I thought last year’s idea was a brilliant piece of Super Bowl advertising for a few reasons. First, the ad itself illustrated the attraction to FanDuel’s primary product. Executive vice president of marketing Andrew Sneyd told me at the time that his brief to Wieden+Kennedy New York was one of the most ambitious he’s ever had. Instead of making just another Super Bowl ad, he said, “How can we be a part of the Super Bowl?” This entertainment within the main attraction is exactly what casual sports betting is all about, adding stakes to the game.
The first line of “Again” is that the first rule of marketing is never to do the same thing twice. Not to be pedantic, but that is most definitely not the first rule of marketing (Exhibit A: the McRib). Second, making the “Kick of Destiny” into an ongoing Super Bowl tradition might just be one of the best big-game ideas ever. It’s the Bud Bowl with stakes and drama.
Disclaimer! I’m saying it may be one of the best ideas, but its success depends on execution. So far this year, with Gronk’s desperation, a bewildered Cena, and the whole meta-advertising angle, the brand is off to a solid start.
Last year, FanDuel introduced us to the concept, and fans bought in. Now it’s about hyping the age-old question that inspires any sports fan sitting down to a mid-regular season game: What’s gonna happen this time? The stakes involved already differentiate it from 99% of the other ads in the game, and the way it invites fan participation directly ties into what FanDuel sells. The company can create any number of variations on this concept for years to come—pitting Gronk against a celebrity competitor, setting up the inevitable rematch. What about Gronk versus Alex Morgan? Or Gronk against Boston Dynamics’ Atlas robot? Or an Eastern European mule?
Feels a bit like destiny.