3rd Annual Awards 

Pro Bowl: The Madden NFL 21 Edition Presented by Verizon

EA Sports, NFL

Winner trophy-icon-silver
  • Best Virtual Brand Experience

2x Nominee ✨
  • Best Engagement Through Esports or Gaming
  • Best Social Live Streaming Content


The Pro Bowl: Madden NFL 21 Edition Presented by Verizon was the first-ever major sporting event to go entirely virtual, completely reimagined on the virtual fields of Madden NFL 21.

The unique format of the event, featuring an esports/gaming integration and a star-studded NFL and celebrity player lineup transformed the Pro Bowl into a must-watch NFL experience—setting a precedent for the industry and for future sporting events to come.

How does this represent “Excellence in Engagement”?

This year’s Pro Bowl was a digitally-driven event with multiple live streams across a variety of social platforms meeting the next generation of NFL fans where they live online. This paid off by drawing increased viewership from younger audiences [+36% in 18-34 viewership during the NFL Network re-air].

EA rolled out new opportunities for fans to engage with the Pro Bowl, including the Video Game Numbers Challenge, which empowered fans to place their favorite players on the official Pro Bowl roster by scoring touchdowns in Madden NFL.

With the success of the Pro Bowl, fans’ surging interest in gaming and a unique execution of a virtual event, EA SPORTS and the NFL’s efforts will serve as inspiration for other sports leagues, brands, and partners in the future.



When the NFL canceled its in-person Pro Bowl for the first time in more than 60 years, long-time partner EA SPORTS was quick to step in with a solution - transform the Pro Bowl into an all-virtual event, enabling the League to keep it on the NFL calendar while also engaging a new generation of NFL fans who live on social. The result: an all-virtual Pro Bowl played in Madden NFL 21, the first-ever major sporting event to go virtual, reigniting widespread interest in the Pro Bowl and turning the brand-new way to play into an entertaining and star-studded must-watch sports experience.

Main objectives included:

  • Generate mass awareness, while engaging digital natives online
  • Demonstrate how the collaboration is transforming sports consumption
  • Drive appointment-setting through multiple channels and beats
  • Secure mass tune-in with support from top talent

Strategy & Execution

To build momentum over 3+ months, the team conceptualized a campaign to engage fans, influencers and media, including:

  • A narrative-setting announcement of EA SPORTS and NFL collaborating to transform the first major sporting event
  • The introduction of new ways for fans to dictate Pro Bowl roster additions through Video Game Numbers Challenge, which empowered fans to send their favorite players to the Pro Bowl by scoring touchdowns in Madden NFL
  • Leveraging the power of celebrity by unveiling NFL athletes and entertainers representing the AFC and NFC, including Snoop Dogg and Marshawn Lynch
  • Throughout the campaign, the team created engaging social content across EA platforms, as well as larger media buys with partners including ESPN and NFL Network. EA also leveraged top talent including Deshaun Watson, Kyler Murray, Jamal Adams, Bubba Wallace and Charissa Thompson to promote roles in the event via media interviews, driving national media coverage and social conversation. The main event resulted in an epic virtual experience, with players and celebrities showcasing their Madden skills with official Pro Bowl rosters to determine the winner. The Pro Bowl: The Madden NFL 21 Edition was live-streamed across NFL social channels, 28 NFL team Twitter accounts and Madden NFL Twitch to reach the next generation of fans.


  • NFL
  • Verizon
  • One Team Partners
  • Find Your Battlefield
  • FleishmanHillard

Featured Talent

  • Charissa Thompson
  • Michael Strahan
  • Deshaun Watson
  • Keyshawn Johnson
  • Derrick Henry
  • Snoop Dogg
  • Kyler Murray
  • Bubba Wallace
  • Jamal Adams
  • Marshawn Lynch
  • Ninja
  • FaZe Swagg
  • AustinShow


Joe Fraler
Sr. Brand Marketing Lead

Royce Dickerson
Executive Producer

Andrew Echanique
Madden CG Program Manager

Will Alexander
PR Manager

Joe Fraler
Sr. Brand Marketing Lead

Paige Parker
Brand Coordinator

Ernie Economides
Director, Gaming & Esports

Justin Anderson
Sr. Manager, Social Media Content & Marketing

Ben Ashbrook
Find Your Battlefield

Dave Targan
VP, Production & Creative
One Team Partners

Paige Keffer
One Team Partners

Rachael Preisinger
Production Manager
One Team Partners

Brett Cummings
SVP &Partner

Matt Fox
Managing Supervisor

Greta Rosenblum
Sr. Account Executive

Celebrate in NYC

Join us for the 6th Hashtag Sports Awards on the evening of June 5, 2024 as we celebrate finalists and reveal the winners of this year's awards live during the show.





Over two days, sports betting + media will converge to discuss the North American fan. Learn the insights and strategies needed to develop partnerships, create and monetize betting content, and drive critical revenue and engagement.

May 12-13, 2021 (Virtual)


Hashtag Sports® is the leading platform for media and marketing professionals and the next generation of creative talent across the converging sports and entertainment industries.

From unparalleled experiences like our annual conference and the Hashtag Sports Awards presented with Budweiser to inspirational digital content and mission-driven initiatives, Hashtag Sports is the benchmark for fan engagement and the go-to resource for the development of a new sports and entertainment ecosystem powered by digital media, content, culture, purpose, and technology.