Marshawn Lynch and Prime’s announcers will ‘turn on’ the action each week in spots from Erich and Kallman.

It doesn’t take much to crank up excitement for NFL football. But Amazon does so instantly with the flick of a switch in its new campaign for “Thursday Night Football” on Prime, which will air in fresh executions all season long.

The first spot, promoting next Thursday’s Vikings-Eagles game on Prime, launched Thursday night during the Lions-Chiefs NFL Kickoff game on NBC. It opens with Marshawn Lynch, the retired running back and seasoned ad pro, walking up to a giant control panel in what looks like a subterranean boiler room, pushing a lever and seeing the machine whir to life with football content.

Prime football analysts Charissa Thompson, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Andrew Whitworth all make cameos, and we see announcers Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit in the broadcast booth as well.

Stacey Rosenson, head of U.S. sports marketing at Amazon, told Ad Age that the strategy for this year’s “Thursday Night Football” marketing was threefold—to highlight the strong matchups of its games, capture the energy of the Prime broadcasts and put more of a spotlight on the network’s on-air talent.

“We have an amazing schedule this year,” she said. “We’re the only NFL partner that travels every week. We believe our show has great energy, and we wanted to bring that forward. And then we wanted to feature our cast and highlight them in a brighter light than they have been in the past.”

The boiler-room idea “hit on all those things,” she added.

The creative will be customized each week to highlight the two teams that are playing. The control panel idea was useful for this, as the various screens and labels on the machine can be modified to highlight different players, fans and other aspects of each team.

“The idea is, we’re in a kind of boiler room—a space that feels like it could be under every NFL stadium,” said Eric Kallman, chief creative officer of Erich and Kallman, the agency behind the campaign. “It’s kind of the ground zero or control room for turning on all the energy and excitement of ‘Thursday Night Football.’ The control panel gives us a chance to talk about what we’re turning on—whether it be the stars of these teams, their fans, etc. It seemed like a cool thing to have for the duration of the season.”

Lynch, Thompson, Fitzpatrick and Whitworth will appear in all of the spots. They’ll trade off taking the lead role each week.

“Our brand tagline is ‘It’s on Prime,’” said Rosenson. “This was the perfect embodiment of that tagline for us—that they’re literally turning on football every week, with all the energy and excitement that comes around that. It really coalesced into this nice package for us.”

Not the entire on-air team—which also includes Kaylee Hartung, Tony Gonzalez, Richard Sherman and Taylor Rooks—was available for the ad shoot; Rosenson said Thompson, Fitzpatrick and Whitworth represent the team well in the spots.

“They’re the heart and soul of our broadcast, all of them,” she said of the network talent. “It’s unfortunate we didn’t have all of them to shoot at the time, but they bring so much energy and excitement for what we do every week. That’s why it was important to me to feature them.”

Mike Warzin of Arts & Sciences directed the campaign. Finding the right location to shoot was critical and quite the challenge on this job, Kallman said.

“It’s funny, you’d think boiler rooms might all be grandiose and big. But they’re tiny spaces—definitely not enough room to build out a set and shoot a big campaign,” he said. “We were lucky to find an old boiler room under what was the Sears building in downtown L.A.—a massive boiler room at the bottom of this massive building. We were able to build out the set that you saw, and bring in the smoke and the lighting and all the other ambiance to get it right.”

Rosenson said Amazon is “casting a pretty wide net” with its media buy to draw attention to the Prime broadcast. The buy includes college football games on Saturdays and NFL games on other networks on Sundays.

“It’s going to be relatively hard to miss,” she said. “We’re across every surface from TV, radio, outdoor, digital and everything in between. We’re across all the Amazon surfaces, on the vans, on all our websites and apps as well.”

Of the metrics she’ll be monitoring, she added: “Viewership, obviously, is our goal. We certainly were happy with last season’s results, and we see room to grow this year. So we will be looking at viewership every week.”

This is Prime’s second year as the exclusive broadcast partner for “Thursday Night Football,” following five years of airing the games digitally. NFL games will air on Prime every Thursday through the rest of 2023, with the exception of Thanksgiving Week, when Prime will air the NFL’s first-ever Black Friday game, between the Jets and the Dolphins.

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