Verizon Will Thank First Responders for Saving 12 NFL Stars in Its Super Bowl Spot

The brand kicks off an emotional campaign during the conference championships

11 NFL players and one coach are posing for a Verizon campaign.
Verizon's new campaign shows how first responders saved 11 NFL players and one coach. Verizon
Headshot of Katie Richards

After sitting out the Super Bowl since 2011, Verizon rejoined the game last year with an emotional campaign thanking first responders. The brand will once again tap that theme, showcasing the stories of NFL players and first responders in its “The Team That Wouldn’t be Here” campaign.

Verizon worked with agency McCann and director Peter Berg (of Friday Night Lights and Ballers) on the campaign. The premise for the brand’s 2019 Super Bowl play revolves around 12 important people in the NFL—11 players and one coach—who, at one point in life, were in serious accidents or natural disasters.

“One of the things that we noticed, thinking about our focus on first responders is that there are a lot of NFL players who wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for first responders that saved their lives,” Diego Scotti, Verizon CMO, said.

The two-week initiative kicks off this weekend with a 60-second spot that will air during the AFC and NFC Championship Games. (This is not the brand’s Super Bowl ad, but part of the same campaign).

Outside of the 60-second spot that will air over the weekend, Verizon also worked with director Peter Berg to create 12 60-second pieces focused on each of the 11 players and Los Angeles Chargers coach Anthony Lynn—and of course a final Super Bowl spot.

In one of the 60-second vignettes, Houston Texans defensive tackle Carlos Watkins talks about how firefighters freed him from a car that crashed into a power pole when he was 19 years old. Watkins says that if the firemen didn’t answer the call, he wouldn’t be here today.

“In some ways these players are everyday people, these athletes are like everyday people who have been saved, drive cars, have been in accidents and in tornadoes. I think that’s what was so jarring about it,” Rob Reilly, global creative chairman, McCann Worldgroup, said of the creative concept. “You sometimes think athletes live these different, special kind of lives, but they fall to the same dangers and need the help of first responders just like the rest of us.”

All 12 videos, including Jacksonville Jaguars long snapper Carson Tinker and others, will be available on As the campaign continues to roll out over the next two weeks, Verizon will also be donating $1 every time someone shares a Verizon social post with #AllOurThanks on Facebook or Twitter, or posts #AllOurThanks on Twitter. The brand will donate up to $1.5 million to First Responders Outreach.

After the success of the brand’s 2018 Super Bowl ad, Scotti noted it made perfect sense for the brand to return for another year. “We thought this was a good moment to come back to that message, one because of the importance of continuing to differentiate Verizon as America’s most reliable network, but also because we are in a moment in the country, thinking about the people that serve others is an important message,” Scotti added.

Verizon will not debut its final Super Bowl spot until it airs during the game on Feb. 3, and did not disclose the length of the ad or when it will air.

For all the latest Super Bowl advertising news—who’s in, who’s out, teasers, full ads and more—check out Adweek’s Super Bowl LIII Ad Tracker. And join us on the evening of Feb. 3 for the best in-game coverage of the Super Bowl commercials anywhere.

@ktjrichards Katie Richards is a staff writer for Adweek.