With just a few tweets, the story of Steelers rookie wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster's stolen bike turned into one of the most viral social conversations of the season. It started with a tweet from JuJu about how his only mode of transportation -- his bike -- was stolen. The story started gaining some steam after teammate Antonio Brown posted about a reward for the return of the stolen bike. As the story developed on social, The Checkdown knew there was room for us in the conversation, but we wanted to make sure we inserted ourselves in a way that felt organic and on-brand. Our goal was to seamlessly join a dominant social conversation and contribute to the narrative in a way that resonated with our fans.
With our goals in mind, we created a high-quality, real-time piece of content that leveraged the strength of the A Football Life brand and our relationship with our players. We knew the keys to creating a video that fans would enjoy and engage with were staying authentic to our brand, incorporating video from players, and leveraging both league and player distribution channels.
A Football Life is one of the NFL Network's most popular original content offerings and is described as "Showcasing the lives and careers of legendary players, coaches and executives, NFL Films examines the untold stories of the most influential NFL icons with unprecedented access." To maintain a feeling of authenticity for fans, we employed a number of creative techniques used by the show's producers including the official A Football Life opening, dramatic voice over narration, and exclusive player and talent interviews.
PLAYERS AND TALENT
Once we decided that we wanted to make an A Football Life parody, we contacted three Steelers players -- Antonio Brown, Ryan Shazier and Vincenzo Williams -- requesting they send a video that we would incorporate into our final video. Each player recorded and submitted a video, all of which played a critical role in our storytelling. We also connected with NFL Network talent that was in the studio and they, too, recorded videos.
With the hopes of maximizing reach while still keeping our goals in mind, the final video was published on both @TheCheckdown and JuJu Smith-Schuster's social accounts. These posts were then amplified by @NFL.
A Football Life: JuJu & His Bike earned over 150,000 social engagements and 1.7 million video views. According to CrowdTangle, it overperformed 10.4x on JuJu Smith-Schuster's Twitter account and boasted a 33% interaction rate. With responses like "this is must see TV" and "hahaha this was good," we feel that The Checkdown successfully joined the conversation in a way that really resonated with fans.
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