ABOUT THIS ENTRY
FOX Sports’ digital and social team launched the second annual Ultimate Fan Bracket: NFL Edition to determine the league’s best fan base, turning the unbridled enthusiasm of NFL fans into an authentic and engaging multimedia campaign.
How does this represent “Excellence in Engagement”?
The outlook for the 2020 NFL season was murky during the offseason due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the bracket challenge created a strong sense of unity among the individual fan bases after a period of uncertainty. Working toward a common goal gave fans purpose and a sense of agency. With “skin in the game,” these challenges deepen fan loyalty and connection to their team’s community at large.
The inaugural fan bracket in 2019 was such a success that FOX Sports saw the opportunity to replicate the campaign across other properties. The Ultimate Fan Bracket: College Basketball edition launched in April 2020, with North Carolina defeating BYU, earning a billboard in Durham, N.C., the backyard of arch-rival Duke.
Strategy & Execution:Similar to the college basketball fan bracket, the winning NFL team fan base received a trophy and a celebratory billboard near its rival team’s stadium. By combining tangible awards with ultimate bragging rights, FOX Sports created a powerful incentive for fans, resulting in high levels of engagement and action.
Awarding a billboard to the winning team was an instant hit – attracting affection, disdain and a slew of media attention.
On August 25, FOX Sports broadcasters Erin Andrews, Charissa Thompson and Peter Schrager hosted a 30 minute live-stream across FOX Sports digital platforms, revealing the seeding for the 32-team NFL Ultimate Fan Bracket. Seeds were designated by number of Twitter followers. The more Twitter followers a team had, the higher the seed. All voting occurred via the @NFLonFOX Twitter account and was promoted across FOX Sports digital platforms. Voting ran for three weeks with the winner announced on September 9, the day before the 2020 NFL season kicked off.
Over 84,000 fans voted in the finals of the 2020 Ultimate Fan Bracket: NFL Edition. The six-seeded Buffalo Bills edged out the three-seeded Green Bay Packers to win the distinction of best fan base in the NFL, with 52.8% of the vote compared to 47.2% for Green Bay.
BillsMafia cast more than 32,000 votes via Twitter, with a whopping 72% of fans choosing Foxborough, Mass., home to the Bills regional rival, The New England Patriots. The billboard, located just four minutes from Gillette Stadium, was unveiled on Dec. 21, 2020. FOX Sports encouraged fans to use the hashtag #FOXFanBracket when taking photos in front of the billboard.
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