With sporting events canceled across all major leagues, Sunday night’s broadcast of ESPN documentary series The Last Dance drew together a huge audience starved for content. Only a few sponsors were allowed in for the event, and with apologies to Reese’s, it’s pretty clear that State Farm won the night.
The insurer took viewers on a quick, wild and head-spinning ride with one of advertising’s best head fakes in recent memory. The spot began with what seemed like archival ESPN SportsCenter footage from 1998, when the Chicago Bulls won their third consecutive championship.
Such footage was to be expected, given that viewers were there to watch the first two episodes of a documentary series about the Bulls’ 1997-98 season. But then things started to get…creepy.
As the ad continues, it becomes increasingly clear that longtime broadcaster Kenny Mayne was not, in fact, one of history’s greatest prognosticators, but was instead simply deepfaking himself by adding new audio onto archival footage. Sometime around “it’s going to be lit,” you realize soundly you’ve been duped.
In late 2019, State Farm announced it would shifting its lead creative duties to agency The Marketing Arm, with incumbent and sister Omnicom agency DDB Chicago retaining some of the account. Adweek has reached out to The Marketing Arm to confirm if it created the Kenny Mayne spot, and this article will be updated when we hear back.
The spot generated quick and copious buzz on social media, with most giving State Farm credit for a cleverly convincing misdirect.
The spot actually debuted via an NBA tweet a day before the documentary began airing:
For those who aren’t completely up to speed on your football vernacular, the “butt fumble” referenced in the spot was a 2012 play during a Thanksgiving fame between the New York Jets and New England Patriots. Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez slammed into the butt of teammate Brandon Moore, causing a fumble recovered by the Patriots and run back for a touchdown.
It’s generally remembered as one of of football’s most embarrassing moments, likely because it came in conjunction with the Jets’ other embarrassing flubs in the same quarter, resulting in three Patriots touchdowns in less than a minute.
Who could have predicted such a bizarre event? Only Kenny Mayne, apparently.