SBJ/April 8 - 14, 2002/Marketingsponsorship

Next NFL Europe link to soccer club eyed in Amsterdam

The NFL has had preliminary conversations with Amsterdam-based soccer club Ajax about forming a marketing partnership between the club and the NFL Europe League's Amsterdam Admirals.

The NFL recently formed an alliance with FC Barcelona, creating a marketing partnership between the soccer club and the NFL Europe's Barcelona Dragons, who are now known as the FC Barcelona Dragons.

Creating such alliances will be a key component of NFL Europe's marketing strategy, said Doug Quinn, senior vice president, managing director of NFL International. NFL Europe kicks off its 10th season this weekend.

Instead of viewing established local sports teams as a barrier to market penetration, "We're partnering with them," said NFL Europe managing director Jim Connelly.

The idea, Quinn said, is to "tap into [those teams'] immediate credibility and their network of partners" as a way to build brand awareness for NFL Europe teams.

Discussions with Ajax have been only preliminary. The plan would be to create ways to cross-market and cross-license the brands of Ajax and the Admirals.

Such cross-marketing is evident in the NFL/FC Barcelona alliance. For example, it's likely that the soccer club will play a series of exhibition games next year in the United States at NFL stadiums.

Meanwhile, in every NFL Europe market, "We're developing alliances with key decision-makers, with influential [entities]," Connelly said.

In Amsterdam, for example, NFL Europe has a partnership with MTV that calls for the network to provide the pregame and halftime entertainment for Admirals games. In addition, Connelly said, the NFL is talking to MTV about creating Admirals-themed programming.

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