SBJ/October 29 - November 4, 2001/Marketingsponsorship

NFL Internet, MBNA launch 7-month promo

The NFL Internet Network and MBNA today will roll out a seven-month promotion designed to encourage sign-ups for the bank's affinity credit cards and to collect names for the NFL/NFLPA merchandise sales database.

The program, the NFL Players Grand Slam, is the most extensive ever run on the network, said Clay Walker, senior vice president of Players Inc., the NFLPA's marketing arm.

MBNA will be promoted on nfl.com and all the sites within its network, including team sites, nflplayers.com and others. It also will have an occasional home-page presence on all sites.

Users will be encouraged to click through to a Players Inc.-produced microsite that takes sign-ups for a sweepstakes with top prizes of all-expense-paid trips to one of four marquee events: the Super Bowl, the Pro Bowl, the World Bowl and the Hall of Fame Game.

Sweepstakes participants will be encouraged to apply for MBNA affinity credit cards. MBNA wouldn't detail its expectations, but Walker said the NFL and NFLPA expect to gather 1 million names for use in marketing league merchandise.

Users who don't sign up for credit cards will receive a direct-mail piece making a second pitch from MBNA, Walker said.

MBNA is an official sponsor of both the league and the players association, and Walker said its six-figure cash contribution to the promotion was designed to cover production and administrative costs. He said the value of MBNA's promotional inventory on the sites is roughly $1 million.

The program is more notable for its reach. MBNA's NFL sponsorship gives it exclusivity on every site in the network, and the program will continue through June 2002.

"We have also agreed to share the database with everyone in the network," said Walker. "The league, the Redskins, the Cowboys, the NFLPA — they will all benefit from their participation."

MBNA has licenses to use the likenesses of about 20 players, and their sections on nflplayers.com will carry "Grand Slam" branding. The program will also receive promotion on the "Players Inc. Radio" show on Westwood One this season.

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