At Fantasy Online College, NFL running back Matt Forte teaches Chicago history and compares himself to other notable Chicagoans such as Barack Obama. Comedian J.B. Smoove is school chancellor and wideout Odell Beckham Jr. is senior professor, aeronautic miracles.
The fictional school — also called FOC for short — is the latest in Lenovo's online video series which aims to increase its brand recognition among millennials and promote the Yoga hybrid computer. The company—which is now parent of Chicago's Motorola Mobility—is now in its fourth year as the official laptop, notebook, desktop and workstation sponsor of the NFL.
"Lenovo is doing the kind of things as an industry that people in sports writing sponsorship talk about all the time," said Jim Andrews, senior VP at IEG. "They have this official status and they are doing something interesting with it. It is developing original digital content that is sharable."
Other NFL athletes included in the video series are Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, Packers running back Eddie Lacy, Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles, Jets wideout Eric Decker and Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon.
Lenovo again teamed with DigitasLBi, who has been partners with the computer giant the last three years, and added two new agencies: Vox Creative and Above Average's new sports comedy brand, The Kicker. Heath Cullens ("It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" and "Deadbeat") directed the videos and "Saturday Night Live" writer Bryan Tucker was also brought on board.
"Lenovo being in the market this time of year is not an accident," said Greg Stahovec, senior VP-group account director at Digitas. "Back-to-school buying and shopping for computers is especially big this time of year and we created content specifically for that."
The ads are running during week three of preseason football, a time when most fantasy football players tune in to watch their favorite players. Most fantasy drafts are held after the third preseason game as NFL starters do not play in the fourth and final preseason contest.
Last year, the company teamed with Onion Labs to create Tough Season, a mockumentary that was viewed more than 20 million times and won a Sports Clio award.
"We look at things like video views, retweets and reposts as an increase in overall fan awareness," said Kevin Berman, Lenovo director of consumer marketing, North America.
Since becoming a sponsor with the NFL in 2012, Lenovo has increased its brand awareness among fantasy football players by 32 percentage points, the company said.
The China-based Lenovo is the No. 1 PC brand worldwide and has a 19.2% market share at the end of 2014, representing growth of 10.1% year over year, according to IDC. In the U.S., however, the company ranks fourth, behind HP, Dell and Apple.
Taken from Crain's Chicago Business