NFL’s new campaign celebrates the “stories that are better than fiction”

To kick off the new American football season, the ad leans into the conspiracy theory that the league is scripted with a table read featuring a star-studded cast

To mark the start of the 2023 football season, the NFL has launched a new campaign titled You Can’t Make This Stuff Up. Leaning into meme and pop culture around the league being scripted, the spot suggests it’s the stage for “unbelievable stories that are better than fiction”.

Created by 72andSunny and directed by Aaron Stoller, two films have been released, both of which take place at a (fictional) table read. Actor and comedian Keegan-Michael Key stars as the production’s director, and for the 104th season, the league’s biggest stars such as Patrick Mahomes, Jalen Ramsey, Ja’Marr Chase, Just Fields, and more gather to come up with unbelievable and outrageous plot twists.

“This campaign is a satirical response to the internet conspiracy that the NFL is scripted, but at the same time speaks to the sheer athleticism of its players and the entertainment value of the game itself. It’s so unbelievable, it has to be made up,” says Zach Hilder, executive creative director at 72andSunny.

We Can’t Make This Up is set to be the first in a series of 16 pieces of content created for this season, which will be released during key moments throughout the year, including Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Christmas and at international games.

The campaign also suggests a trend within sports advertising right now where the thrill of the unknown is emphasised as one of the main draws of live sport. ITV’s recent ad campaign for the upcoming Rugby World Cup, for example, features a set of tarot cards that highlight how this year’s tournament will be the most unpredictable in history. In the NFL’s case, it’s less about who wins and more about the stories that unfold during the game.

Agency: 72ndSunny
Production Company: Biscuit
Director: Aaron Stoller