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Why Are NFL Schedule-Release Videos So Much Better Than Uni-Unveiling Videos?

[Editor’s Note: This post is part of Uni Watch’s 2024 Purple Amnesty Day content. For additional background and details, look here.]

Yesterday I featured the Browns’ awesome bowling-themed schedule-release video. And while that’s definitely the best sked-release video I’ve seen so far, there are several other good ones out there, including the ones for the Chargers, the Titans, and a bunch more. There are some good assessments of the various videos here and here. (The Ravens’ video, honestly, is okay but not exceptional, but I’ve put it at the top of this page because today is Purple Amnesty Day.)

Just to be clear: I think all the buildup over the announcement of the NFL schedule is pretty ridiculous. It almost feels like they’re overcompensating for the fact that a football season features only 17 games. Like, “Okay, we don’t play very often, but we’re gonna make a really big fuss over very single game.”

That said, however, these videos are often really good. They’re clever, playful, fun, and you can usually tell that some real thought has gone into them. A few of them don’t quite hit the mark or feel like they’re trying too hard, but they rarely if ever make you cringe.

All of which leads me to a question: If teams are capable of making these fun sked videos, why are so many uni-unveiling videos such absolute dreck? You know all the hallmarks of them: the melodramatic music, the quick-cut editing, the dim lighting, the players trying to look extra-badass, the embarrassing text. Hell they’re even called “hype videos,” which tells you everything you need to know.

Why is there such a yawning chasm between the respective styles of these two video categories? Is it because the sked vids are produced by the social media team, while the uni vids are produced by the marketing team? (I don’t even know if that’s true. I’m just spitballing here.) Maybe some other reason?


Comments (22)

    I think you hit the nail on the head, Paul. Uni unveiling vids are lame because of who’s behind them. My guess is apparel makers have a hand in uni vids.

    My hypothesis is that the schedule vids are produced in-house, or at least planned and directed in-house with production contractors reporting to the team’s marketing/PR team. Uni vids are more likely to be produced by the uni supplier. Or, if they’re produced in-house, teams are influenced by the established (shitty) style of uni vids produced by the big suppliers. And on that last point, the “template” for a schedule vid is one of whimsy and fun, so even if a big ad agency were to entirely produce a schedule vid for a team, it would be aiming to produce a product that’s in line with a better genre of promotional videos.

    So maybe I’ve just talked myself out of my first hypothesis. Maybe it’s kind of like movie genres. If your idea of the best kind of movie to make is Pixar and Studio Ghibli, the movie you make, no matter how poorly executed it is, is liable to be a better movie than the movie made by someone whose idea of the best kind of movie to make is “The Rock” and “Con Air.” Schedule vids are closer to Wes Anderson and the Coen Brothers; uni vids are closer to Zack Snyder.

    My opinion: Uni unveilings are designed to sell merch, teams front offices need to qualify their aesthetic decisions to their respective fanbases. There’s some added pressure there to “get it right”. Schedule release video’s can be fun and speak to the fanbase without the pressure of needing to sell a product or please everyone. NFL creates the schedule, the teams marketing departments just play the hand they are dealt and are given the artistic freedom to have fun.

    I think it has to do with the differing subject material. A schedule details the upcoming season with several new adversaries, so it can be created into a narrative. Once you choose a theme or vehicle for the narrative, then you have a wide range of possibilities for how each opponent will be represented.

    There are fewer opportunities for organic storytelling with a uniform, which is why the official, typical, infographic-storytelling seems so forced and ridiculous. And why those unveilings rely on gimmicks.

    Leave it to me to be the one to ask this question on a very busy Purple Amnesty Day, but if there’s anything I’m more of a honk for than mismatched purples, it’s the Ticker. So… will there be a Ticker today?

    Also, I scoured the internet for any image I could find of the Baltimore Ravens wearing mismatched purples. I wasn’t able to find anything close to definitive, but I’m glad one of their fans did me this favor in the Ravens’ schedule release video. Thank you, good sir!

    It is about the intended audience for each. For the schedule release, they know there is really no purpose for it, it is just an opportunity for content that if done well could go viral. The audience is both hardcore fans and the average person who they could hook with a funny video.
    The audience for the uniform reveals is unfortunately the same audience that Nike thinks it is designing the uniforms for. It is for people who will describe a jersey as “fresh” or “its fire” and call a mono white uniform “icy”. And that is why, much like most of the new uniforms they are debuting, they are awful. The uniform debuts are ads for selling merch. The people most likely to buy that merch like that type of video.

    Surface-level thought: uni unveilings are “in favor” of the team, so they go for the “cool”, “hype” style, whether to be intimidating to other teams or to appeal as a merch dump. In juxtaposition, the schedule reveals are about showing other teams, so they are less serious as to downplay the teams they play. That’s just my $.02

    Here is my try to figure it out.

    The uniform unveiling video is not is really a commercial to have people go, and “buy the jersey”. They are overcooked and overcheffed (I know it is not a word, but, I am making it one now). These commercials are more likely or not ran by focus groups left and right to try to get the most jersey sales.

    The schedule release videos are not viewed as being that important, since you cannot make money off of them (,yet). So, the minds behind them have more freedom, and allowed more creativity to ply their trade.

    That is my theory anyways.

    Is there an example of a good uni unveiling video that leans more in the direction of humor rather than over-the-top machismo? I can’t think of any, which leads me to believe that the main problem here is just inertia. There aren’t any good, humorous uni unveiling videos because no one has broken the mold yet.

    If you think about the modern schedule release videos, they are a relatively new trend and there used to only be one or two teams that did them with the current humorous tone. But those videos went viral and the other teams wanted a piece of the action.

    If a team did do a more humorous and fun video for the uniforms and it went viral, I would imagine other teams would start following suit in the very short term wanting to be the next ones to do have their viral moment.

    I think it’s also a time and player availability issue (on the uni side).

    For schedule releases, the teams know their opponents as soon as week 18 ends (and 14/17 are just a pre-determined rotating schedule with only 3 matchups based on last year’s standings). So they have 4-5 months to produce these videos, then just need to edit them in the correct order when they get the weeks/dates.

    Most Uni unveilings are in the offseason when the players aren’t at the facility, and ideally you want to unveil them with the people who will actually be wearing them.

    Because they’re actually able to have fun.

    They’re not in control of how the schedule looks so they’re more “in on it” with the fans — unlike a uniform design process, where overthinking runs rampant. There’s less overthinking and more winking at the ridiculousness of the schedule release.

    With uniforms, there’s this underlying, unspoken tension of “we hope this goes well with the fans” that hangs over every new uniform unveiling.

    I feel like this leads teams to overthink it and go more in the direction of serious “hype” productions. Like they have to dress up the unveiling to a degree (just in case).

    Meanwhile, with a schedule release, the Chargers lean into being their best selves (social media trolls) and the Dolphins playfully nod at their team speed. Even a franchise like the Steelers — typically more self-serious — makes an effort to be playful.

    I think it’s two things. As many commenters have mentioned, the fact that the uni videos are largely about selling product directly makes it more of a cash-grab. Sure, the schedule videos are about selling a product (the actual games), the teams likely realize that they aren’t really selling anything, as the audience is likely to already be watching. The second thing is that the teams likely realize this is all absurd, so why not just have fun? No need to sell anything, so just have fun. Not complicated.

    I wonder if they get input/guidance from Nike when they do the hype videos.

    It could be due to level of secrecy. They try to keep jerseys secret to avoid leaks.

    The only secret in the schedule is the order of games, so they can work together filming it without knowing the order. They just need to let the editor and graphic designer in on the secret a few hours before.

    Hate to mention another team but check out the Broncos unveiling on their throwback uni. That was a debut done right.

    I thought the Patriots Good Will Hunting parody was great. I understand it may not of resonated as strongly beyond New England fans or Boston.
    That movie is beloved locally and still has its place in Boston culture.
    The casting was smart for people who know the team well. Edelman who became a star out of nowhere & Ernie Adams being the secret weapon or hidden genius of the Belichik dynasty (the man behind the curtain supports the legend)

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