By the Staff of NYSportsJournalism.com
December 19, 2013: The traditional gift for a 25th anniversary is silver.
EA Sports preferred to give people a gold mine to support the release of Madden NFL 25.
Voting for the cover was again put in the hands of the public-at-large (as it had been for the previous two years) and activated in conjunction with ESPN. But this was different.
EA put 32 current NFL stars in the running, but pitted them against 32 legends. None backed out to avoid the infamous "Madden cover jinx," which has seen several athletes suffer injuries the year after appearing on the cover.
Voting totals for the campaign exceeded 37 million, 18 million more than last year’s vote total for the entire campaign, according to EA Sports.
The Final Four came down to, in the "new school" bracket, Minnesota Vikings running back and 2012 NFL MVP Adrian Peterson vs. Houston Texans running back Arian Foster; and in the legends bracket, former Detroit Lions running back Barry Sanders faced ex-San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice.
Sanders (57%) had defeated Joe Montana (43%), Rice (60%) outlasted Deion Sanders (40%), Foster (52%) edged Russell Wilson (48%) and Peterson (70%) ran over Robert Griffin III (30%).
In the end, Sanders faced Peterson, and both won: EA Sports put Sanders on the Madden NFL 25 cover for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wi releases, Peterson on the covers of PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
"I am shocked, excited, humbled, elated. I am also proud to be the Madden 25 cover athlete," Sanders tweeted when he heard the news. "The voter turn out in this program has been remarkable. And the fact that I won is pretty sweet, but very surprising and amazing,”
That was a focal point, but only part of the push, behind Madden NFL 25.
Marketing support included TV, print, POP, Internet and such social media destinations as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. People were able to “Maximize” their cover ballots by participating in live Twitter voting, sponsored in partnership with Pepsi MAX.
Sanders then took the lead in marketing when Madden NFL 25 dropped in August. In one event, EA Sports and Sanders set up shop on the track and field facility in Showalter Field in Winter Park on Aug. 17 and played host to a bevy of fans, who had responded to shout-outs via social media.
Under the banner, "100 copies of Madden. 40 yards. 1 chance," fans competed in a 40-yard dash in all age groups. In a video of the event, youngsters and adults alike are shown being handed a copy of Madden NFL 25 by Sanders at they cross the 40-yard finish line.
A supporting TV spot in conjunction with Pepsi Max ad, "Disappearing Sanders," found Sanders is getting a shave and a haircut at a local barber shop. The two guys attending him are talking about his great NFL career when one asks a question that has become part of Sanders' legend: Why did he retire from the Detroit Lions when he did, with several good years left to go in his career?
Turns out that it was a Pepsi Max-Madden NFL 25 thing.
A friendly wager between quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson, played out in a TV spot that ran in anticipation of their NBC Sunday Night Football game earlier this season called, for the losing quarterback to shave off one of his eyebrows. The spot showed both men playing against each other in Madden NFL 25. The wager received national press (and neither man lost an eyebrow).
True to EA Sports form, the campaign, conversations and video conflicts for Madden NFL 25 continue.