SBJ/October 15 - 21, 2001/Marketingsponsorship

Anti-drug office, NFL in ‘nontraditional’ deal

When is an NFL sponsorship not a sponsorship? When it's a media buy across almost every NFL asset from the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

ONDCP, armed with a $100 million-plus budget to combat drug use, is using the NFL as its primary sports marketing vehicle. Acting for all the world like an NFL sponsor, ONDCP has purchased around $5 million in media from the league and its broadcasters, and commissioned NFL Films to do three anti-drug spots featuring NFL players.

"We've been calling it a nontraditional marketing partnership," said NFL corporate media vice president Pete Murray. "But whatever you call it, the good news is that they are using the NFL's reach, image and media."

The NFL gets some badly needed positive exposure for some of its players, and sells some of its own media, worth in the high six figures, during a particularly slow sales season.

The media buy includes game broadcasts and shoulder programming on Fox, CBS, ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, Lifetime and MTV; print in NFL Insider and the Super Bowl program; ads on; sponsorship of the NFL's youth flag football initiative; and an exhibit at the NFL Experience during Super Bowl week.

The ads from NFL Films use players to deliver a strong anti-drug message. The New York Giants' Tiki Barber tells kids about how football was his "anti-drug" program growing up. Tampa Bay's Derrick Brooks talks about the importance of discipline and self-respect. Tennessee's Eddie George relates the role his mother had in keeping him on the straight and narrow.

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