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SBD Global/August 28, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship
NFL Banking On 'Passion' Of U.K. Fans To Make London Expansion A Success
Published August 28, 2013
SPONSOR MOVEMENT: The growth of the NFL’s International Series has also been evident through sponsorships. The league gives its sponsors in the U.S. the first opportunity to invest in foreign markets. Many have, including Budweiser, Visa and Pepsi. “It’s not a requirement,” Reeves said. “If a brand decides this isn’t the right time to invest in a foreign market, we go out and find a local product.” That happened last year when the NFL added London-based Aon -- known for their shirt sponsorship with ManU -- as a new sponsor. And while General Motors is the official automotive partner of the NFL in the U.S., the league added Chrysler as its sponsor for the U.K. “We see that as growth,” Reeves said. “We’re getting brands that don’t have an overall relationship with the NFL, but they’re saying, ‘Hey, you guys are growing to a point where you’re a great stand-alone property, we want to align with you.’” The NFL has also gotten help from its sponsors, such as Budweiser. Reeves said that Budweiser has done promotions in U.K. stores with the NFL logo and brand visible. “Everyone who goes shopping sees that NFL logo,” Reeves said. “That gets us to a consumer we otherwise wouldn’t.”
MOVING FORWARD: The key to London being able to sustain an NFL franchise is a large fan base, Reeves said. To do so, the NFL is marketing its players, teams and the sport toward youth. “We have a clear focus on youth,” Reeves said. “If we get you before you’re 19, there’s a far greater likelihood you’ll be a fan for life. Fans of the NFL are a driver for new fans. Empowering fans via social media and getting them to bring others in has been a big focus. The rise in the NFL’s popularity in the U.K. has, in some ways, mirrored the surge in popularity of the Premier League in the U.S. One reason, Reeves said, is technology, and fans’ ability to quickly locate massive amounts of information online. “In today’s day and age, as a sports fan, you can consume as much as you want,” Reeves said. “People are finding the products they like and they’re able to consume it. That is crossing borders in ways we haven’t seen before.”