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Creating the Kick of Destiny

Last Updated: July 1, 2023
On Super Bowl Sunday, Rob Gronkowski will attempt a 25-yard field goal live for FanDuel. Here’s how the Kick of Destiny came about, from the very beginning.

When Rob Gronkowski attempts a 25-yard field goal live during the third quarter of the Super Bowl on Sunday, it’ll be the culmination of a campaign that took the better part of a year from ideation to execution. For that reason, it’s apt to call it the Kick of Destiny.

The Kick Of Destiny will be a FanDuel commercial that, if successful, will pay out $10 million in free bets.

Steve Giraldi joined FanDuel in 2018 and now serves as its executive creative director. A couple years ago, the company’s ambitions grew in wanting to become an iconic sports and gaming brand. 

“You’re really seeing the first real big integrated big swing from us to try to live up to that mission,” Giraldi told Boardroom.

The idea to purchase a Super Bowl ad spot at FOX’s reported $7 million price began about seven months ago. And FanDuel wanted to do something big.

“Let’s do something to get ourselves promoted or fired,” Giraldi joked. “So you go to an ad agency and say, ‘we bought an ad, but we don’t want an ad.’ You immediately get their attention in a really positive way.”

FanDuel has worked with legendary creative agency Wieden+Kennedy for years now. W+K, which came up with Nike’s “Just Do It” tagline, works with some of the world’s largest, most innovative brands. FanDuel gathered to discuss creating a commercial that would make the company part of the Super Bowl itself.

They didn’t want an ad. They wanted a moment.

Super Bowl commercials elicit the best from companies and agencies around the world, with celebrity endorsers and elite production levels. There were many of what Giraldi called “big, sloppy meetings” in a safe space to fail and discuss outside-the-box ideas.

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A concept emerged of a campaign that would start much earlier than the Super Bowl, building momentum and interest leading to the commercial itself. And as the Kick Of Destiny idea took shape in the fall, Gronkowski was preparing to join FanDuel as a brand ambassador. FanDuel began ideating around this classic arc of a hero’s journey toward destiny, but wasn’t sure if Gronk would buy in.

FanDuel brought Gronkowski and his father Gordy to its office and told them they had an interesting, albeit unorthodox, proposal.

“He immediately went ‘oh wow,’” Giraldi said, “and ‘I’m in.’ It was kind of perfect because this whole process has been trusting in your partners, locking arms, and then just going because there are a lot of challenges with doing something on this level and culminating with a live production.” 

Gronkowski was the only realistic option that FanDuel considered for this spot. The initial internal response with Gronk was the question of how to portray an athletic person attempting to do something athletic?

The five-word answer was so quintessentially Gronk that it made it to the initial spot during the playoffs.

“I catch,” he said to his agent during the commercial, “I don’t kick.”

It helped foster that will-he-or-won’t-he tension FanDuel looked for during the playoffs.

FanDuel didn’t want a kicker or an active athlete, but also didn’t want a celebrity like a Paul Rudd, who Giraldi said the company briefly considered. It would have felt strange for someone not associated with sports to just step up and realistically drill a field goal on live TV.

The biggest challenges that lie ahead for the Kick Of Destiny are technical. While the NFL and FOX loved the idea right away, the location of the kick presented issues. The parties had to find somewhere that’s close enough to the stadium in Glendale to ensure the signal can carry from one site to the other. While FanDuel shoots commercials all the time, this will be the company’s first-ever live production.

Giraldi never worked on a live production before, and especially not in a spot where more than 100 million people will watch. Wieden+Kennedy has some experience in that regard, he said, and FanDuel will work with Los Angeles-based production company Arts & Sciences, and director Mike Warzin, for the Kick Of Destiny. There will be a production truck, 30 screens, and an army of staff to make sure Gronk’s kick carries live around the world.

Traffic will be heavy in the Phoenix area on Sunday, so Gronkowski will head to the FanDuel set via police escort after completing his pregame duties on FOX. It’ll be the culmination of many months of preparation from numerous departments within the company.

“This is the most sophisticated and integrated campaign that we have ever attempted on arguably one of the biggest stages,” Giraldi said. 

Giraldi hopes the Kick Of Destiny stands out both in the sports betting industry, and across the entire Super Bowl.

“I hope that it actually pierces sports culture, popular culture, and the conversation,” he said. “That’s really what we’re trying to do with this. We want transcendent work out of our category and I think we’ve done that.”

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About The Author
Shlomo Sprung
Shlomo Sprung
Shlomo Sprung is a Senior Staff Writer at Boardroom. He has more than a decade of experience in journalism, with past work appearing in Forbes, MLB.com, Awful Announcing, and The Sporting News. He graduated from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 2011, and his Twitter and Spotify addictions are well under control. Just ask him.