The NFL Kickoff Game officially opens the new season Thursday. This annual event is typically hosted by the defending Super Bowl champion. This year, due to a scheduling conflict with baseball’s Baltimore Orioles, the reigning champ Ravens travel to Denver.
The NFL has done its usual “in your face” marketing approach with signs of Joe Flacco around the stadium and city of Denver. Broncos fans aren’t happy to see the face of the quarterback who’s team ended their season last year.
The Flacco Face controversy is just one of many surrounding the NFL as the 2013 campaign begins:
- The NFL has agreed to a $765 million settlement deal with thousands of former players who sued the league, accusing it of hiding the dangers of brain injury while profiting from the sport’s violence.
- PBS will make a major promotional push for its documentary “League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis.” ESPN, a major broadcast partner of the NFL, is distancing itself from the documentary after initially partnering with PBS to make the film. ESPN recently paid $1.1 billion to air Monday Night Football and wants to stay on the good side of the league.
- The NFL announced that purses and bags larger than a hand would not be permitted at games. Clear plastic bags can be purchased for $8.
Yet the NFL remains the most popular sports league partly because it is the rare product that can be enjoyed by just about everyone. But also because the NFL’s 5 Key Strategies have made it sports Integrated Marketing & PR Champion:
- Market Research Drives Decisions–In recent years, the league has seen women grow to become over 44 percent of its fan base, with 60 percent of females over the age of 12 saying they are NFL fans. The NFL moved to reach women by overhauling its women’s apparel strategy from the cliched “pink it and shrink it” approach to featuring Victoria’s Secret and Nike items in team colors made to fit women’s bodies. The collection also includes boots, watches and other accessories. The NFL’s research and subsequent approach have proven to be successful.
- Aggressive Market Expansion–In addition to increasing the women fan base, the NFL has expanded into other countries with preseason games held across Europe, Japan, Canada and Mexico, where the largest crowd in NFL history (112,376) attended a 1994 game between the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Oilers. Every game played in London’s Wembley Stadium has been a sellout. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recently said he hopes to eventually put an NFL franchise in London.
- Year Long Content Calendar Creates a Buzz–Promotion of the NFL combine, draft, training camp, preseason, playoffs and the Super Bowl makes for a never ending marketing season.
- Message Discipline–The NFL is committed to a united messaging front. From the United Way partnership, the NFL Network, ESPN, current and former players, owners and coaches, message discipline is consistently strong. When the league makes a decision, they announce it, live with it and move on to the next one.
- The Art & Science of Marketing-The NFL understands marketing is both an art and science. Contrast in advertising: Big image of Flacco, small logo in lower right corner. Quick video shots and unique background music. Use of multiple marketing vehicles like Social Media, broadcast and cable TV, web, radio and print. The NFL combines strategy and creativity to make it memorable.
You and your company might not have the resources the NFL does. But you can still become an Integrated Marketing & PR Champion by following the league’s key strategies.