The NFL’s Most Creative Man, Martellus Bennett, Cast His Own Teammates in a Series of Crazy GIFs

Aaron Rodgers dropping a football mic? Check.

He's no angel, though. GIPHY
Headshot of Patrick Coffee

Green Bay Packers tight end Martellus Bennett is a busy guy.

When he’s not helping his team attempt to win the NFC North for the second year in a row, he’s working on any number of projects with his multimedia production company, The Imagination Agency.

The work, which includes children’s books, apps and games inspired by Bennett’s daughter, earned him a spot on this year’s Adweek 100. His latest project involves his own teammates and every social media addict’s favorite method of communication: graphics interchange formats, or GIFs.

He collaborated with Giphy, the leading online database for these moving images, to create a “text back pack” featuring hundreds of gestures and potential memes from his fellow Packers.

Here’s cornerback Kevin King saying hi.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers came ready with his cartoon title belt, football mic drop and hipster T-shirt.

Martellus really got into playing the director role.

Cornerback Davon House seems to be sharing some candy in his GIF, while wide receiver Randall Cobb considers the scientific implications of a social experiment that’s getting to be a bit much for running back Aaron Jones.

“I went by [Giphy’s] studio to do some children’s book apps and ended up making GIFs of my own,” Bennett said in explaining how the project came about. He then turned to the art of persuasion, convincing a few teammates to join him in the Giphy studios for several hours one afternoon during summer training.

“I thought it would be cool to direct a bunch of athletes doing funny GIFs, [and] the ESPYs were coming up,” he said, so he gathered the players in the studio and presented them with “crazy scenarios” to inspire dramatic reactions. “I tried to create a loose atmosphere. I played music … I put Prince on for a young cat who didn’t know Prince,” Bennett told Adweek.

He sold the content as something that the players could share along with thousands of fans, and it seems to have worked.

“Marty’s Text Back Pack passed 150 million views on Giphy in about 48 hours through organic growth and the quality of the content,” said Julie Logan, director of brand strategy at Giphy. “That’s super impressive when you consider that major cultural live events get upwards of 200 million views on Giphy within the first 24 hours after broadcast.”

The Packers even used one of the GIFs to promote Aaron Rodgers as clutch performer of the week. This was before he broke his collarbone, of course.

Regarding future projects, Bennett said, “I’ve definitely got a lot of plans for Giphy. Maybe a GIF comic book. Entertainment within the GIFs. Maybe an original show made up of GIFs!”

When talking about moving pictures, Bennett is never anything less than fully animated.

@PatrickCoffee Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.