SBJ/January 26 - February 1, 2004/Special Report

NFL Super Bowl ad touts volunteer work for stars, fans

The NFL will launch "Join the Team," a cause-related marketing program, with a Super Bowl ad that will include some of the league's top performers.

Scheduled to be filmed Monday by NFL Films at Houston's Reliant Stadium, the site of this year's Super Bowl, is an ad replete with some of the league's elite players, including Chicago linebacker Brian Urlacher, New England quarterback Tom Brady, Tampa Bay safety John Lynch, Kansas City tight end Tony Gonzalez, Miami linebacker Zach Thomas, New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan, Oakland wide receiver Jerry Rice, Pittsburgh running back Jerome Bettis and Tennessee running back Eddie George.

The players will be sitting in the stands at Reliant, wearing their jerseys. The visuals will cut from one player to another as they read the script and tell fans: "You've inspired us; you've inspired us to play, to run, to throw, to fly, to dream, to believe. And together we can inspire others. We can inspire them to teach, to listen, to help, to care, to give, to make a difference, to believe together. This is what it's all about — join the team."

Viewers will be directed to a Web site, www.jointheteam.com, to learn about volunteering in their communities. The NFL's Join the Team platform will encourage fans to get involved in any number of organizations that the league and its teams are involved in. The Join the Team program covers all of the league's community outreach initiatives.

In a year where pro football players and the NFL took exception to a depiction as indifferent, antisocial, sex-crazed druggies on an ESPN scripted series, this might be termed the "anti-Playmakers" ad, since it is designed to highlight players' community work, along with prompting fans to get involved in volunteer causes.

"We're trying to put a face on some of our good guys and the good work that gets done in the community by our players," said John Collins, the NFL's senior vice president of marketing and sales. "We'll always have the United Way [the NFL's longtime charity of choice], but this gives us another cause-related marketing platform, with a little more attitude, that should make it more relevant to a younger audience."

Since many of the NFL's commercial partners are already involved with the United Way, this give the NFL a more flexible cause-related program, adaptable to almost any cause or sponsor. The 30-second spot is scheduled to be shown during CBS' Super Bowl pregame show and during the second half of the game. The NFL Network will show a 60-second version of the spot at halftime.

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