SBD/Issue 5/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

New Pro Football HOF Campaign To Promote Nominating Process

The Pro Football HOF Saturday is launching a multi-million dollar, multi-year marketing campaign to promote the nominating process for the Hall. It kicks off Saturday at 2:00pm ET, when the list of Hall nominees for enshrinement in '10 is released. The campaign, the largest in the institution’s history, is sponsored by clothing company Van Heusen and JCPenney, which will advertise the promotion in all of its 1,400 stores. The ad effort includes spots on ESPN, ads in Sports Illustrated and ESPN The Magazine and a billboard in Times Square. The promotion lets fans make their own selections from the initial list, putting their choices against those of the writers who officially whittle down the list to select the class of inductees. The fan poll, available at, will have no bearing on the actual winners, who are announced each year on the day before the Super Bowl. “We want the fans to have a voice and we want them to know we are listening,” said George Veras, CEO of the Hall’s licensing and merchandise arm. “It is encouraging a debate; we want to hear opinions. Today, social media is so important.” Like most HOFs, the pro football museum leaves the voting to writers, whose choices are often fiercely debated in public forums. Veras said he expects, and hopes, the final five chosen by the fans will be somewhat different from the actual five winners.

OPPORTUNITY TO CONNECT WITH AUDIENCE: Phillips-Van Heusen will cover two-thirds of the ad spend, with JCPenney paying the remainder, and Mike Kelly, CMO for Phillips-Van Heusen’s corporate marketing group, said, “We’re definitely looking for more opportunities to connect to our audience through sports.” Kelly: "The Hall has never done this sort of thing, and we’re thrilled to be part of it. It’s not the actual Hall vote, but the fans are going to be involved, which we think is very significant. And to have it leverage the traffic that JCPenney brings globally, that’s a definite leg up, too.” Van Heusen typically has focused its marketing efforts on male-oriented print media, such as GQ, Esquire and Men’s Journal, but it has steadily sought to increase its sports presence. The company sponsored an IRL car (Vision Racing) earlier this year through its Izod brand, something Kelly cited as a key forerunner to this deal. The Hall this year also is co-producing a series on the NFL Network, “Road to Canton,” on which Van Heusen is advertising.

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