Erin Andrews‘ Wardrobe, hair and makeup choices for a Fox Sports Super Bowl broadcast have never been more important.
The veteran sports presenter had to decide all of these things last month – and her verdicts were of crucial importance to the National Football League, as she quietly crafted a two-minute advert which, at least on the face of it, looks like another part of the Big Game. After wrapping up an episode of Apple Music’s halftime show with Rihanna, Fox appeared to kick off an interview segment between Andrews and Diana Flores, the quarterback of the women’s national flag soccer team of Mexico.
It was anything but. The network — and the NFL — really went the extra mile to capture viewers’ attention on a night when hundreds of others were trying to do the same.
During the interview, Andrews tells Flores, “You’re so elusive. Is there anyone who can pull your flags? Just as the Athlete is about to respond, Andrews tries to shoot them herself and begins chasing the startled young woman. As the action intensifies, viewers hear Joan Jett and the Blackhearts cover the frantic song “Real Wild Child” and the audience follows as Flores is followed by football players like Sauce Gardner and Davante Adams, and the digital influencer Mr. Beast. Even tennis great Billie Jean King makes an appearance. Meanwhile, Flores weaves through the hallways, down a giant escalator, and even onto a rooftop!
“We wanted to create a broadcast trainwreck,” says Bryan Buckley, the director known for his work on dozens of Super Bowl commercials over the years. Viewers were bound to feel that
“Something is wrong,” he says, and prompted to lean over and wonder, “Oh my God, what just happened?”
Flag football is a cause celebre at the NFL, which has invested in non-contact flag football leagues across the country in an effort to get young people interested in the sport — and its tackle-fueled counterpart. “If you want to get a kid involved in the game, get them in the game,” says NFL Marketing Director Tim Ellis. Focusing the announcement on a Spanish-speaking player was no coincidence. The league views youth, women, and people of Latino and Spanish descent as consumer segments who may be more interested in sports, and the Super Bowl presents a unique opportunity, Ellis says, to get a message across to casual fans or people who don’t usually watch football.
The practice of making a Super Bowl commercial look like another part of the game is not new. Fox collaborated with Procter & Gamble’s Tide in 2017, allowing commentator Terry Bradshaw to appear onscreen with a small stain on his shirt that would end up playing a starring role in a Super Bowl ad that had the big grill game and playground to get his clothes washed. NBC authorized General Motors will pull off a clever trick in 2015 ahead of its Super Bowl XLIX broadcast that made viewers think their feeds of the pre-game festivities had been cut short. The ad was intended to highlight the Chevrolet Colorado’s Wi-Fi capabilities.
For Andrews’ interview to feel like part of the action, everything had to appear to be happening in real time. The NFL was able to take a look at Fox’s Super Bowl graphics package and used the same cameras Fox would be using at the event. Meanwhile, Andrews had to choose the clothes, make-up and hairstyle she planned to use on match day – several weeks before kick-off. “The mic she was holding was the real mic” that Andrews was supposed to be holding in the game, says Marissa Solis, senior vice president of global brand and consumer marketing for the NFL.
“We had to start with the Interivew,” says Solis. Viewers would believe Andrews might be having such a conversation, especially after the NFL replaced its Pro Bowl with a competition series that included flag football. “It’s very believable that she’s on the sidelines.”
To push viewers further, however, Buckley quickly worked to create what he called “the sensation of chaos”. As Flores walks away, viewers may think they’re seeing her through Andrews’ point of view, thanks to the camera angles. And then, within seconds, Andrews appears to fall to the ground before Flores heads for other parts of the stadium. “Put yourself into space – that was the order of the day,” says Buckley.
The director says this commercial is the most difficult Super Bowl commercial he has ever had to shoot. The storyboard for the ad required over 1,000 different images, and the filming “required so many layers and so many people involved”. Now that Terry Bradshaw and Erin Andrews have helped make a Super Bowl commercial look like part of the action, the next big challenge may be getting Tom Brady on board after he starts work. with Fox in the fall of 2024. .