By Barry Janoff
August 17, 2014: Madden NFL 15 is scheduled to hit stores on Aug. 26, making it not the end of summer but instead "Madden Season" for many people across the country.
That group includes actors Kevin Hart and Dave Franco, NBA All-Star Damien Lillard and such NFL players as Richard Sherman, Colin Kaepernick, LeShean McCoy, Eddie Lacy, Dez Bryant and Von Miller, all of whom star in an over-the-top commercial for the upcoming EA Sports video game.
"'Madden Season' is the reason my hand touched your face," Hart raps after he shows up at Franco's home and slaps him, then begins trash-talking Franco into playing Madden NFL 15.
The extended three and a half-minute version of "Madden Season," which had more than 1.9 million YouTube views within a day of being posted and more than 3.5 million after three days, is filled with non-sequitur images, irreverent rap lines, a mascot that rises from beneath the water and plays the organ and a throw-down challenge from Hart to Franco to play him in a game of Madden NFL 15.
Electronic Arts last year celebrated the 25th anniversary edition of Madden NFL, which since its inception has sold more than 100 million copies and generated some $4 billion in revenue, according to the company, with some five million copies sold of Madden NFL 25 accounting for 6% of EA's overall sales.
There are 34 million core gamers in the U.S. spending an average of 22 hours per week playing video games, according to marketing and research firm NPD Group, Port Washington, NY. In 2013, consumers in the U.S. spent $15.4 billion on video game software and content, a 1% increase over 2013, according to NPD.
EA and its EA Sports division has over the past few years opened up the selection of the Madden NFL cover to a vote among consumers, who this year picked Richard Sherman of the NFL Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks over Cam Newton, quarterback for the Carolina Panthers.
EA Sports has gone full-force for Madden Season, including several add-on videos that offer extra scenes and the making-of looks as well as Internet and social media including Twitter and Facebook.
The spot finds Hart slapping Franco at Franco's front door, Franco's girlfriend soon realizes that Franco won't stand up to hart's taunts, including waking them up in the early morning with a Naval size bull horn. keying his car and filling his gas tank with sugar, so she heads off on a Spyder three-wheel motorcycle driven by Lillard, who can't quite seem to get the knack of controlling the vehicle.
Relentless, Hart shows up in the office of BDBY — Billion Dollar Bills Y'al! — which here appears to be Franco's agent, where Hart has brought along Sherman, who tackles Franco, as well as a Madden NFL 15 cheerleading squad.
The scene shifts to a pool party, where the Bla-Bla-Blah rapper quartet of McCoy, Kaepernick, Lacy and Bryant. continue the ad's theme with the nonsensical lyrics, "Blah Blahbety blahty blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah, Madden."
Ultimately, Madden NFL 15 comes up on a big screen, in front of which sits Franco with his controls. Franco is in full-mode game-face, but Hart, now apologetic, sits next to him and says, "Dave, I'm going to pay for the car." Too late. Franco, playing as the San Francisco 49ers, takes the opening kickoff and runs through Hart's Seahawks' defense for a touchdown.
"Oh, so we playin' for real?" Hart asks Franco, who has a vengeful smile on his face.
A guy then comes over to Franco. "Dave, your house is on fire."
But it's Madden Season, so Franco is too focused on the game to deal with anything else. "Let it burn," he replies. "LET IT BURN!"
Hart is elated to see that Franco finally gets it. "Yes, my boy," exclaims Hart. "He don't care that his house is on fire" as long as he is totally enveloped by Madden NFL 15.
The spot ends with the text, "Rejoice. It's Madden Season." (See the full spot here.)
For those who want to do the Madden Season rap:
Madden Season is the reason my hand touched your face.
That time of year is finally here when I put you in your place.
Man I’ll key your car (Was that too far?).
How bout sugar in your tank?
I’ll get inside that cranium, live there all night long.
I’ll wake you up with a boat horn, at the crack of dawn.
It’s Madden Season, don’t ask why.
Time to man up, not to cry.
It’s Madden Season, it can break you up.
So beat your rival, don’t give up up up up up up up up up.
It’s Madden Season, the most vengeful time of year.
I will blitz you, pick you, hit you, there’s no rival that I fear.
Oh yes it’s Madden Season and for once defense is fun.
I’ll lock you in, hit you again, and murder you way past well done.
If you wanna have some fun then you can play it til you're numb.
Knock ‘em, pop ‘em, rock ‘em, be number one.
Blah Bla-Bla-Blah, Bla-Ba-Blah
Blah Blahbety blahty blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah, Madden
Blah blah blah blah blah, Madden
Blah Blah blahbety blah blah blahbety blah blah blah blah, Madden
Blah blah blahbety blahsty blah, blah blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah
It’s Madden Season, go start a twitter war.
You can smack talk, trash talk, bang down that door.
I will own you with my strategies (And shame you with my skills).
I will write that check your face can’t cash (And make you pay the bills).
Oh it’s Madden, I’ll beat you all year long.
So here’s a tiny violin to play a sad sad song.
Do fries come with that shake?
Lemme see you shake it, shake it, shake it but don’t break it.
Just shake it, shake it, sha-shake it up but don’t break it.
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