With the goal of framing flag football as “a badass athletic sport,” Cole said Flores was the ideal choice—because she’s not just a star of the sport. She’s the best in the world, male or female.
“Repositioning flag is one of the jobs we’re trying to do as stewards of football,” he said. “So we were Google searching, like ‘badass flag football skills.’ And her highlights come up. Then it just became about capturing what she can do. I’m glad she’s who she is. I’m glad she’s where she’s from. I’m glad she’s the gender she is. But she’s also just the best.”
The idea to feature Flores was actually a secondary idea at first; they were considering using it for next year’s Super Bowl. But Ellis said he fast-tracked the idea after meeting Flores at the Cardinals-49ers game in Mexico City in November. This is her first-ever ad.
“I was just like, wow, she’s incredible. Amazing energy. I called the team and said ‘We’ve got to find a way to do this spot.’ We pivoted right before Christmas, and we couldn’t be happier about how it turned out.”
The creative process
To bring it to life, the NFL brought in Bryan Buckley—the Hungry Man director known as the “king of the Super Bowl” for having made more than 65 Big Game spots. Buckley—who only got the storyboards on Christmas Eve, which left little time to pull everything together—said it was a special project from the start, mixing high-intensity action with a meaningful cultural evolution for the league.
“This is one of those spots where people will remember where they were when they first saw it,” he said. “I get emotional about it because the journey to get to this spot is really important. It’s a big, important piece of work. This is a brand saying, ‘This is where we’re going. Get on the train or don’t.’ To me, that’s incredible. So the creative has to deliver on another level.”
That creative kicks off with a fun misdirect. The spot begins like a live interview, as Erin Andrews is seen speaking to Flores about flag football—and then trying to grab her flag, which sets off the chase.
“We thought that was the perfect way to start,” said Zach Hilder, executive creative director overseeing NFL creative at 72andSunny. “When you see those flags, you can’t help but want to pull them off. It was that little twist. And then we’re off and the fun begins.”
The cameos in the spot are critical to audience engagement, too. There are a number of NFL players, of course—Sauce Gardner, Jalen Ramsey, Aidan Hutchinson, Cam Hayward and Davante Adams (in a parrot suit), as well as Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly. Others making an appearance include tennis great Billie Jean King, viral YouTube star MrBeast, U.S. women's flag team quarterback Vanita Krouch, and Bella Rasmussen, a star high-school tackle football player from California.