SBD/September 9, 2010/NFL Season Preview

Visa Ramping Up NFL Marketing Plans With Focus On Local Markets

Visa is kicking off its 15th season as an NFL sponsor with "new marketing plans, including greater emphasis on local teams," according to Tanya Irwin of MARKETING DAILY. Visa has become the "exclusive payment services sponsor" of the Jaguars, Vikings, Colts and Titans -- adding to its roster of NFL clients that already includes the Falcons, Ravens, Bills, Panthers, Browns, Broncos, Patriots, Saints and 49ers. Beyond the local sponsorships, an "integrated marketing campaign will feature national promotion and advertising, new team relationships, exclusive Visa signature offers for cardholders and Visa halftime reports on Fox NFL broadcasts." As part of its enhanced efforts, Visa will "award one football fan with a trip to the Super Bowl for the rest of their life." The company beginning this month and continuing throughout the season will "promote the sweepstakes with digital advertisements that will appear on popular football Web sites such as NFL.com." In addition, Visa next month will introduce the "Fans Forever" campaign featuring "national TV spots and social media." Visa will present the halftime report on Fox game broadcasts for the seventh straight season, and the company for the sixth consecutive year has "teamed up with the NFL and NFL players to help high school and college students take control of their financial future via 'Financial Football,' a free money management video game" (MARKETING DAILY, 9/9).

QUOTH THE RAVEN: Old Spice today is launching an ad campaign featuring Ravens LB Ray Lewis, the Procter & Gamble brand's first campaign tied to its NFL sponsorship. A commercial titled "Raven" will debut, accompanied by more TV spots, Web activation, print ads and promotional activities throughout the NFL season. ESPN.com has a tie-in with the campaign, inviting users to yell into their computer microphones for 10 seconds to earn a 30-day free trial to ESPN Insider (THE DAILY). Lewis in the spot says, "I don't play fantasy football. I play for-real football." He then climbs onto a "robotic raven" and they go "soaring through the galaxy" (BALTIMORESUN.com, 9/8). CNBC's Darren Rovell wrote on his Twitter account it is "1 of the worst spots I've ever seen" (TWITTER.com, 9/9).

BETTER INGREDIENTS: Papa John's President & co-CEO Jude Thompson appeared on CNBC's "Squawk Box" yesterday to discuss the company's three-year sponsorship of the NFL, which materialized after Papa John's signed on as the official pizza of Super Bowl XLIV. Thompson said, "It was a very successful campaign. We had a few years of being associated with knowing that football and pizza went together naturally, and then when we did the Super Bowl sponsorship last year -- our first -- it was a record day. We sold over 900,000 pizzas." Thompson noted Papa John's has "refocused" its marketing strategy, adding, "The print and things like that are not as effective as some of the social media and then also the NFL, but we have increased our spending a little bit" ("Squawk Box," CNBC, 9/8).

LICENSE TO THRILL: NFL outfitter Reebok is partnering with A Pea in the Pod maternity brand to offer an NFL-licensed maternity collection, with ABC's Elisabeth Hasselbeck to serve as the face of the line. The collection will be available starting tomorrow. Meanwhile, Wilson Golf yesterday announced the expansion of its NFL-licensed bags and balls to include all 32 teams. The sporting goods maker's long-standing relationship with the league includes serving as its official football provider since '41 (THE DAILY).

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