EA Sports Giferator Case study: Delivering smack talk in real-time

5 Min Read. |

madden_share_imageAbout Madden NFL 15

Madden NFL is an American Football video game series published by Electronics Arts. Madden NFL has been around since 1988 and has sold over a 100 million copies over the years. EA releases a new version of the game annually and has always insisted on it being as realistic as possible(the first game took nearly 4 years to produce, due to EAs insistence on realism). John Madden, a famous American football coach and presenter, lends his name and expertise to the game.

Despite its popularity in America, the title had seen a decline in sales as a new generation of gamers had spawned. They preferred an experience which could be shared with their pals online. Multiplayer experience was the easy fix, but that just was not enough. To tackle this problem and promote their latest game, Madden NFL 15, the company partnered with Google and created the Giferator.

The Giferator is a real-time Gif-creating engine which took live data from live matches and created a stream of real-time Gifs triggered by the action in the match. For example, if a player scored, the Giferator would create a Gif of his celebration, accompanied by a text talking trash about the rival team and upload it on the website. The Gif also appeared across Google Display Network sites. So, if you were reading news on a website about the live match, you would see the gif appear on the website. The gifs were generated using the Madden NFL 15 game footage. All this happened in real-time. Fans could also take control of the Giferator and could create their own Gifs.

Giferator’s Campaign Objective

The Giferator was created not just to appeal to a new generation of gamers but also to American football fans. About 157 million American football fans, new and old, watch the season roll out on TV. The objective of the Giferator campaign was to reach these fans and engage them, all the while generating awareness for their video game. The objectives can be listed as:

  • Connect with a young audience
  • Engage a wide audience in real time
  • Generate awareness for Madden NFL 15

The approach

According to Anthony Stevenson, VP global marketing and brand at EA Sports, “We have the benefit of a real-world tide that we can ride in parallel with—the NFL season. People are talking about the NFL in real-time and we need to be able to talk to our fans and engage our fans around the things that are happening,” he says. “We know that things trend and then in 20 minutes they’re gone. If we’re not there, we’re not going to be part of the conversation. We’ve almost completely eliminated the time between the event and when the fans are engaging with our brand.”

That statement says a lot about their approach to the campaign. The campaign was approached in two ways:

  • Company created real-time gifs: They created gifs using real-time data from the real world within seconds of the event occurring. The company then posted the gifs as ads across the Google Display Network as ads, which reached the fans who were reading about the live match taking, checking news or stats of the players. So, if the game was live and you wanted to see the scores on ESPN, since you couldn’t watch the match live, you would see a gif of the action created using the Giferator. Also, the campaign and site were really mobile friendly. So a person could easily share the gifs they liked across the social media. The ads created in such a way were targeted to the fans of the teams in the NFL season. So if you were a Seattle Seahawks fan, and the game was on live, you would see ads related to the team while browsing the net.
  • User generated gifs: Fans could also share gifs that they made themselves across the social media to their friends and their twitter accounts. So if someone saw something gif worthy on the TV, they could just pick up his phone, create the gif in seconds and share it to his friends and across the web. They could send messages to their frineds, who were fans of rival teams and smack talk about their teams using quippy gifs generated by Giferator.

It was a clever way of creating relevant advertising which highlighted the potential of the game they were promoting.


Photo credit: https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/campaigns/ea-sports-madden-giferator.html

Results achieved

The success of the campaign was massive. Adweek called it “the most innovative digital ad product” and tumblr named it “the most reblogged meme of 2014”. To note:

  • Over 450k gifs created and shared by fans across the social media and the internet
  • The gifs were shared across 150 media outlets making it the year’s top meme
  • Madden NFL 15 was the top selling overall title in America for its release month
  • The games sales rose by 15% for the first week over last years number


  • Engagement: Give the audience an opportunity to interact with the content. The amount of engagement that was generated by this campaign surely contributed a lot to creating awareness and getting more and new people to buy the game.
  • Mobile friendly content: The content and the site to create the content was incredibly mobile friendly and could be shared on the go by the fans. This added a new layer of interaction by enabling fans to send the gifs through messages to their friends.
  • Embracing realtime: The gifs were created in real time using real-time data from the real world. This created highly relevant ads that were targeted to highly relevant audience and ensured the success of the campaign.

Image Credits:  giferator

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  1. Dhivya Rangarajan

    learning part can be modified slightly but the “Results achieved ” was explained wisely to get the core of the subject -well done Sangram!

    • Sangram Tawde

      Thanks!! Would definitely appreciate any more suggestions.


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