Last week, DEEP ALLIANCE MARKETING executed a media tour with Bears veteran linebacker, Hunter Hillenmeyer. Hillenmeyer, who plays back up to two of the NFL’s top linebackers – Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs – was brought on as a spokesperson for the Staples Small Business Hall of Fame promotion being conducted by the office supply retailer in the Chicago market (more…)
Archive for September, 2010
It’s back-to-football week. That sounds like a fairly innocuous description of the week leading up to the opening of the NFL season, but, it really, truly, officially is “Back to Football Week.” How do we know? Because the NFL has told us so and has actually branded the concept. Pretentious? Darn right it is, but the NFL is still the one league that can back it all up.
What makes the NFL the most popular sport in the United States? The reasons are legion and can’t be covered in a short blog post such as this. But, when you are mentioned as the favorite sport by more than the next three professional sports combined, you’re in the catbird seat. (HARRIS POLL DATA)
At DEEP, we believe that there is marketing opportunity in aligning with a property whenever there is some degree of demand for that property. Size of audience isn’t necessarily what matters. What is key is that there is an identifiable audience that is clearly motivated by the property. I would gladly take a smaller, more motivated audience to market to over a broader group of passive fans.
Combine depth of passion and breadth of interest and you have a combination that’s tough to beat and why the NFL sets the bar among sports properties for TV rights, sponsorship and merchandise sales. The NFL has 32 teams – two more than the NBA, MLB and NHL – and doesn’t even have a team in the nation’s second largest market, Los Angeles. The league’s one-game-a-week schedule concept makes following the entire league easy and means that EVERY game counts during the regular season. In the DMAs that have teams, the NFL generally is the overall strongest professional sports property. In markets that have no pro sports teams, it still is powerful as evidenced in the market-by-market viewership data.
It’s audience size and passion of its fans make it an ideal sponsorship target for serious brands. But, it also makes it an expensive one. Earlier this year, Anheuser-Busch InBev reclaimed its sponsorship of the NFL naming Bud Light as the Official Beer of the NFL, replacing Coors Light which held the deal for the last six seasons. The deal as reported in some outlets is upwards of $1.2 billion over six years or double what Coors Light paid. While we’re hard-pressed to believe such a deal is worth it from an ROI standpoint – especially since it does not include team deals – we’re not familiar with all the activation plans and don’t like to comment on such matters unless we have accurate information on goals and strategies. Certainly, though, linking America’s No. 1 beer brand, Bud Light, with America’s No. 1 sport, the NFL, makes some sense inherently.
These figures are scary, to be sure. But, the reality is that league-level sponsorship should be only for those brands that are able to activate in a truly national way and have solid ground games inside all key markets. Sponsorship or media-based activation on a local level may still be a wise option and should be explored if NFL football meets the other criteria established.
As a fan, I’m ready for some football. I will be pulling for the Bears. I will be pulling against all other teams in the NFC North. And, I will be pulling for players on my Fantasy Team (including those on teams from the NFC North). This way, I figure the season can’t be a total bust.