National Tight Ends Day (NTED) is the epitome of an organic, player-led idea. What started as a random sideline joke between George Kittle and Jimmy Garoppolo has become a full-fledged holiday for the game of football worldwide.
It was a perfect opportunity to run with something fun, light, and relatable. Our players, broadcast and brand partners, colleges, high schools, and our International audiences have completely bought into celebrating a holiday we just, quite frankly, made up. Who else can say that?
That said, three main goals drove our idea:
Over the years, we have fine-tuned and supersized our National Tight Ends Day (NTED) celebration each season. Planning no longer takes a few weeks. Instead, our planning starts months ahead. A breakdown of steps and execution:
Content capture at Tight End University - An annual skills camp led by NFL tight ends' George Kittle, Travis Kelce, and Greg Olsen to bring together their TE peers across the League and work on their craft and training.
Feature/hero piece - With a strong script and an even better character, founder George Kittle and the WWE helped us set the stage on the morning of NTED. Our social production team flew out to San Francisco to meet an enthusiastic Kittle to film and bring it to life, further highlighting our deep partnership with one of our game’s biggest stars, as well as a collaboration with another league (WWE). Stick around for a cameo at the end.
Creative - We know that the best way to get buy-in from our fans is to keep them engaged. NTED was fused into weekly matchup graphics. We asked fans to get in on TE debates. Hype reels brought the heat. And illustrations brought everyone together.
Broadcast Partners - By connecting with and prepping our broadcast television partners, studio shows and announcers around the NFL were talking about NTED.
T-Shirts - Although most of this campaign was a digital execution, we wanted to make sure we had some sort of physical presence. This year’s T-shirt design did the trick. We even weaved it into some of our creative. T-shirts were distributed to all 32 teams, as well as select colleges. It was a thrill to see players wearing them on Sunday.
Game coverage - Of course, every time a tight end did anything on NTED, we posted about it under our hashtag. Even our NTED hero scored on his own holiday.
Legend participation - Sometimes it’s hard to get retired players to buy into a new concept. Lucky for us, the greatest TEs of all time worked with us to wish everyone a happy NTED.
And that’s just a sliver of the promotion we had for this great holiday. Were there learnings? Of course! Here are a few:
Have the season’s NTED theme ready earlier – this allows us to capture more specific content while on-site with players at TEU and get their buy-in for the upcoming holiday.
Lead time on T-shirts – We need to start the process of getting these designed and boxed earlier.
This was undoubtedly our biggest effort to promote National Tight Ends Day. We broke our own engagement records, and our completely made up #NationalTightEndsDay hashtag was the #1 trend on all of Twitter that day – a huge win for us.
We also saw the most-ever NTED segments from broadcast partners. All 1,000 T-Shirts across our ecosystem were used in some way. We saw a near 50% participation increase among colleges. Legends worked with us, and we gained the trust from current star tight ends with their willingness to take our ideas and run with them. That ultimately helped us show of their personalities outside of what fans see on a field. The Kittle/WWE spot reflects that beautifully.
So yes! This year was a huge success. Now, what are we going to pull off for next season’s NTED?! The bar is set!
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