New York Giants Social Effort for Fox Re-Air of Super Bowl LXII Shows Meaningful Engagement
When the New York Giants in-house video and social production team learned that Fox Sports was going to re-air Super Bowl XLII, the improbable upset of the New England Patriots in 2008, on April 12 the challenge was clear: how can it use its own historical assets and team to amplify what owner John Mara calls the greatest victory the team ever had.
What the Giants did last weekend is something that, increasingly, is becoming part of a lot of the re-airs of previous events. On the same weekend CBS Sports broadcast two Masters final rounds with Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods reflecting on their victories. NBA TV and other networks are doing the same. And the New York Giants effort is proof positive that in a time when coming together virtually is having its moment there is a chance for team video and social departments to leverage their skills to keep the franchise they work for front and center with fans.
“In this environment it was like a five-hour vacation and escape from what is going on now,” says Don Sperling, New York Giants, vice president and executive producer. “Everybody was able to join in and share the conversation all day.”
The second-screen platform was sponsored by FedEx and included real-time analysis from the stars of the game, in-depth analysis on key moments throughout the game, a live Twitter post-game Q&A, an oral history of the game-winning drive, and even a sweepstakes for an autographed football from David Tyree who made one of the game’s biggest catches.
“We had three weeks and the digital and production team were fantastic and jumped on it early,” says Don Sperling. “They were critical in recognizing the opportunities on our platforms and what we can do on each, how much you can post as you can’t just run things constantly and figuring out a good schedule on the main platforms.”
Key to the success was that the Giants content team had about 80% of the content already completed so it just needed to be re-edited. Going to the max on the 10th anniversary in 2017 helped ensure that content was already in hand.
“We have everything in folders and tagged with metadata and our storage could be accessed from home over VPN,” says Sperling. “That was the biggest challenge as rendering would take four times as long.”
Twitter was front and center as it was the best at allowing ex-players and coaches from the game to become part of the conversation. Instagram and Facebook also were fed content and all of it was done with a tone best to reach the demographic needs of each platform.
“We are just one department, so the video content and social teams work close together and collaborate, so things are streamlined and easy,” explains Sperling. “It’s not only the content but also the story telling like on the final drive when we had Michael Strahan start the conversation and then Plaxico Burress talking about how his eyes lit up when he saw the blitz coverage on the last play.”
That team includes Sperling as well as Christine Baluyot and Natalie Wizel on production with Wizel doing the heavy lifting loading of and isolating of content. On the digital/social programming side, Nilay Shah, David Dominik and Emma Kaptein fed the beast with Sperling saying that Kaptein did the brunt of the programming and publishing throughout the day on all the platforms.
“Emma and Natalie get the medals,” he says of the effort.
Helping in the effort was that in 2017, on the 10th anniversary of the game, the team created upwards of 70 original short pieces of content interviews and access with the players and coaches.
“We had all kinds of behind-the-scenes interviews,” says Sperling.
And then there were moments which the team captured from the week of the game itself. Fans were treated to a closer look at Tyree’s terrible practice on Friday as well as Tom Coughlin’s speech the night before which was never shown before.
The goal was to create a honey pot of content that would not only bring in fans but also players and celebrities who could become part of the conversation on social media.
Preparation and organization are key, he adds, as is the flexibility in play calling like the one the Giants used to defeat the Patriots.
“We did call some audibles during the course of the day based on the amount of chatter going back and forth between the players,” he says.
Getting the players involved was pretty straight forward as there were just two key things: make sure they knew the game started at 3 pm and then make sure they knew the hashtag they should use if they want to follow and be part of the conversation. And nearly all of them did.
“It’s one of the best executions we’ve done and the most fun we’ve ever had in five hours with everything going on,” says Sperling. “And letting the fan base in on this was really special.”