CFP National Championship 2022: College Football Playoff’s Digital-Video Push Culminates in Epic Title Weekend
All-star content team brings beautiful visuals, access to college football’s grandest stage
When it comes to telling one’s own story, few governing bodies in American sports have invested more robustly in modern digital-video storytelling than the College Football Playoff.
This past 2021-22 campaign was one of notable growth for the organization, which expanded its efforts even further to bring elite media coverage not just to the three championship college football games it hosts each year as part of the CFP but to the organization’s year-round effort.
Even still, it’s at the crown jewel — the College Football Playoff National Championship — that the content strategy is fulfilled. Throughout the national championship weekend, content creators recruited to freelance the event blanket social-media handles with eye-popping coverage of everything CFP: from planes touching down in the host city to the lifting of the trophy on Monday night.
“Our end game was simple: to tell the story of the entire CFP National Championship Weekend for our owned channels, while also providing B-roll content to credentialed media covering the CFP festivities as well,” says Katie Cavender, assistant director, communications and branding, College Football Playoff. “The collaboration, creativity, and communication was unmatched, and I’m confident in saying that we’re energized for continued growth in this area.”
Recruiting the elite team of content creators is Cavender, a sort of sports creatives’ version of George Clooney in Ocean’s 11. When she first came on board at the CFP following an 11-year run at the Mountain West Conference, Cavender inherited a social-media program that allowed for volunteers from various athletic departments, agencies, and other wings of the sports world to work the weekend for CFP. Under her watch, that program has grown by leaps and bounds. While highly accomplished content creators certainly fill the lineup, the program has also notably shifted its focus to growing the team with emerging stars in the creative field — recent graduates or even current students.
— College Football Playoff (@CFBPlayoff) January 11, 2022
“If anyone knows me, they’ll know that I’m a geek for great content,” says Cavender. “I always have a running list of creators who stand out, and, when we get to the college football season, we will pull together the best of the best from that list while striking a balance for our content mix with photographers, videographers, graphic designers, and publishers.”
From there, invitations are extended, and Cavender builds out a balanced squad to blanket social media throughout the weekend. The various experience levels also offer a strong educational and networking experience for all involved. The program has seen many alumni go on to work for professional sports teams and other major brands throughout the industry.
The #CFBPlayoff social team was loaded with elite shooters, editors, and content creators. Cavender oversaw the entire effort with the help of CFP Communications Intern Hallie Merz. This year’s crew featured Maddie Anderson, Brandon Brieger, Kaylen Buschhorn, Caelan Carr, Anthony Getz, Seena Griewe, Matt Lange, Drew Mathis, Madison Olmo, Evan Rabinowitz, Jacob Reeves, Lauren St. Paul, Josh Tu, Thomas Vehige, and Rankin White.
This was also the first year the CFP was able to bring aboard Kansas City-based creative marketing and production agency Let It Fly Media to fill out its high-level video-content creation. The company came out in force, with company founders Andrew Carter and Ben Walnick joined by Creative Director Billy Quach, Storytelling Director Tom Martin, Director of Growth Chris Schneider, and producers Justin Kim, Mick White, and Evan Miller.
The #CFBPlayoff social-video campaign was as comprehensive as the weekend-long festivities. The lineup of content creators from the #CFBPlayoff social team, Let It Fly Media, and 17 still photographers and editors (led by Kevin Jairaj) arrived in Indianapolis the Thursday prior to the title game to get a feel for the layout of the events at team hotels, in the community, at the convention center, and the stadium itself.
The event schedule was packed. It required capturing sights and sounds from team arrivals at the airport, various press conferences, the Championship Campus in Downtown Indy, Playoff Fan Central (a three-day fan festival with various activations), the AT&T Playoff Playlist Live! concert series, Allstate Championship Tailgate, the Extra Yard 5K, Taset of the Championship, and the Extra Yard for Teachers Summit. All that plus game day itself.
According to Cavender, many members of the social team bring their own equipment. Joined onsite by reps from Canon and Sony to help with gear repairs, replacements, and additional rentals.
Real-time content-sharing via Frame.io, Photoshelter, and Pixieset streamlined the creative process. The CFP also has built its own CFP Media Portal with Catapult Sports, which compiles content for use by participating teams and distributes content to media covering the game in person or remotely.
— College Football Playoff (@CFBPlayoff) January 11, 2022
As part of the host governing body, Cavender is tasked with offering opportunities, support, and partnerships to other major media entities involved in the game, including the game’s broadcaster ESPN and the major social-media platforms themselves.
A popular activation on game day was Twitter’s “Tweet Suite,” where influencers and celebrities enjoyed the game together in a booth while creating content for their own channels. Twitter’s onsite presence included TJ Adeshola, David Herman, Shelby Clayton, Brantlee Fields, and Amanda Wilpon.
The College Football Playoff also worked with Instagram and their Black Creatives Network program to help launch the CFP’s Reels presence. Samuel Pierre from the Creative Collective Of New York City joined the #CFBPlayoff social team to create such content on behalf of the BCN program. From Meta were Nick Marquez, Will Yoder, Shanae Dixon, Samuel Pierre, and Arlo Furst.
Working directly with the game’s broadcaster, ESPN, was also critical. ESPN’s Annie Dunbar and Brett Edgerton not only brought social coverage to ESPN’s social channels but worked alongside the CFP on the ESPN #FrontPageTweets campaign celebrating Georgia’s first national championship victory in the CFP era. The agency Fresh Tape Media (featuring Gabby Carrier, Jared Kleinstein, and Brandon Messner) also played a key role in the execution and design of that project.
Also contributing to the wall-to-wall effort were TikTok, Clubhouse, Van Wagner, Gavieres Design, Tony Fay PR, Fiur Productions, Infinite Scale, Fuse, SAV, Cue Audio, and Tagboard, as well as the Indianapolis Host Committee.