NY Giants’ New Interactive Site Shows Odell Beckham Jr. Is More Than Just ‘The Catch’
Rarely has an athlete penetrated the cultural zeitgeist as rapidly as Giants Pro Bowl wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has over the past four months. After missing the first four games of the NFL season with a hamstring injury, the 12th overall draft pick made a name for himself with one prolific game after another — headlined by “The Catch of the Year” in Week 12 against the Dallas Cowboys on NBC Sunday Night Football. Social media exploded after The Catch, and Beckham’s star continued to rise on and off the field, as he broke Giants single-season records and dined out with the likes of LeBron James.
As New York Giants Entertainment VP/Executive Producer Don Sperling puts it, “Odell became the centerpiece of the NFL conversation at several points this season.”
A story as unique as Beckham’s requires an equally unique storytelling tool; enter the New York Giants’ new More Than Just “The Catch” interactive timeline Website. The Giants partnered with Zoomph to create an interactive look at Beckham’s record-breaking rookie season — from the NFL Scouting Combine one year ago through his AP Offensive Rookie of the Year win at the NFL Honors awards ceremony last week. The dynamic timeline draws on dozens of videos and photos, tweets, infographics, and original Giants.com articles to tell his story as it unfolds.
“Everyone thinks of Odell and that catch, but he did a lot of amazing things throughout the season,” says Nilay Shah, director of digital and social media, NY Giants. “We wanted a way to capture his record-breaking season and give fans who may not have known his story before the catch an interactive way to tell the full story from start to finish of his year with the Giants.”
Big Blue Synergy in Action
The idea for More Than Just “The Catch” began to grow in late 2014, when it became clear that Beckham was a leading Rookie of the Year candidate. Shah and his team began to break down the timeline layout, targeting major events: Beckham’s Combine, Draft day, minicamp, NFL debut, and, of course, The Catch. Once the project was approved, the Giants video, creative-services, and digital teams began compiling and sorting through all the Beckham-related media it had built up throughout the season.
“We are lucky here in that our video, creative services, and digital departments are all under one roof,” says Shah. “We were all able to sit down and come up with the best content possible in our inventory. We matched that with each chapter. When we had an [article] about his first minicamp, for example, our video department came up with video of his first touchdown as a Giant on the practice field. It was definitely a cross-department effort, and we all worked hand-in-hand.”
Giving It Some Zoomph
Zoomph, which supplies the backend software infrastructure for the Giants Website, social media, and in-stadium videoboard social elements, played a key role in developing the timeline. The Giants used Zoomph’s Social Buzz system to search, aggregate, and select the top influencers (Elizabeth Banks, John Cusack, Matt Lauer, Richard Sherman, and many more) mentioning Beckham on Twitter following The Catch. The widget was integrated into the Website.
“[Zoomph] is the best at gathering all this data and manipulating it in a way that makes sense to the fans,” says Shah, “and providing us an easy way to display it.”
The Giants also tasked Zoomph with making the extremely media-heavy Website functional on all platforms regardless of the device used.
“One of our major goals was to create something extremely clean that was also fully mobile-optimized,” says Shah. “A lot of times these long-form Websites with this huge amount of media are not [compatible with] mobile, but this is a fully responsive Website no matter what device you view it on. That was a major criterion for us in working with Zoomph.”
Flipping the Word Out
In today’s world, great content doesn’t mean much unless you can get it out and engage fans. To do that, Sperling and his team produced a short video of Super Bowl XLII hero David Tyree (whose autobiography More Than Just the Catch provided the Website’s moniker) flipping through a custom-made flip book illustrating Beckham’s epic catch. The video attracted nearly 1 million views in just one day and drove viewers to the interactive timeline’s URL, Giants.com/Beckham13.
“We wanted to come up with a concept where this would get shared naturally without paying for any advertising or marketing,” says Shah. “Don came up with the concept, and it got close to 1 million views on Facebook. We know, if you post a video on Facebook, it’s 70% more likely to get a view. So, instead of just putting out a static graphic and a link, we used that as a vehicle to promote the Website.”
Although Beckham’s story is a unique situation, Shah sees the interactive timeline as “a good template for us to use for other things that don’t need just an article or a video or photo but a full-circle experience.”
Sperling adds, “It doesn’t necessarily have to be a year-long timeline. You could use this concept for a bio or a player’s farewell tour. It allows for some great storytelling in a real interactive and fun manner.”