SBJ/July 15-21, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

Ties between league, hall tighten with new NFL Network deal

Terry Lefton
It hasn’t always been easy to gauge the relationship between the NFL and the Pro Football Hall of Fame, even though the hall’s board of directors includes NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and influential owners like Dan Rooney of the Steelers and Jerry Jones of the Cowboys. But we’re told that as the Hall of Fame begins observing its 50th anniversary, the ties that bind are closer than ever — so much so that a TV deal for the hall once nearly completed with ESPN has gone instead to NFL Network.

The result is an eight-year deal that will give NFL Network viewers a seasonlong view of the Hall of Fame selection process. Also in the works is a deal with Showtime, where a Hall of Fame segment and a fan-voting program will be featured within the weekly “Inside the NFL” highlights show. So from this point of view, the relationship between the two feels like one big group hug.

Marketing firm Insignia is seeing success finding hall sponsors.
Photo by: PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME
Credit for that has to go to Insignia, the New York-based sports marketing agency founded last May that has represented the Pro Football Hall of Fame for a year. Insignia is owned by Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and includes former Jets executive vice president Matt Higgins and former NFL sponsorship chief Peter Murray, people who know the league’s landscape and its politics. Consequently, they’re getting traction when it comes to marketing the Hall of Fame, something that has generally eluded the other shrines of sports.

“We’re selling it like it’s a 33rd NFL team, with a content strategy, media extensions and IP sales, and extending the brand with a presence at key times in the NFL calendar,” said Murray, who would not comment on the NFL Network deal, which also gives the NFL’s digital network access to Hall of Fame assets. New sponsors include audio manufacturer Harman-Kardon (where former Samsung America CMO Ralph Santana is now pulling the marketing strings) and Kay Jewelers, which will update the Hall of Fame ring and sell rings at retail. Scientific Games has a lottery deal, and Parade magazine is a media partner, integrating its Parade All-Americans. Other media extensions in development include an online fantasy game and a weekly radio series, likely on Dial Global.

“The idea is to increase fan engagement, not just at Canton, but across platforms with all the content we have, and grow to a national brand,” said Dave Motts, vice president of marketing at the hall, who also would not comment on an NFL Network deal.

Hall officials believe this year will feature its best turnout, with more than 130 hall of famers on hand for the Aug. 3 enshrinement ceremony. We’ll be interested to see whether the “new” Pro Football Hall will aggressively court competitors of official NFL sponsors and whether other halls of fame will follow suit with more aggressive marketing programs.

> IGNITING GROWTH: Looking to expand its global reach and augment the offerings of its consulting division with additional activation capabilities, Wasserman Media Group has acquired Ignite, a U.K.-based experiential marketing agency that was founded in 2002. Ignite’s clients include top sports properties like the NFL, NBA, Premier League and ATP, as well as consumer brands including Barclays, Vodafone, Nike and HP.

Ignite will become part of the WMG Consulting division, headed by managing directors Denise Durante and Elizabeth Lindsey.

“At WMG, we are tasked with doubling the size of the business within five years, and one way to accomplish that is with new and incremental services,” Lindsey said. “Our agency pedigree started with strategy, and we do some activation for clients like Quaker Oats, Lenovo and Verizon, but there’s something satisfying about being able to offer full service to all clients and seeing our strategies played through.”

Ignite’s 50-plus employees increases the WMG Consulting head count to 120 people, with around half of those in the U.K. Fred Porro, an agency founder and group managing director, is relocating from Miami to WMG’s New York City offices, where he will be a WMG Consulting group senior vice president.

“Bringing a brand to life on the ground in a way that moves sales is the ultimate validation for the strategy work we do, and Ignite has been really innovative there,” said Durante, adding that the deal has been in the works for around six months. “This builds our experiential services in a way that allows us to offer them globally and in much greater depth.”

Terry Lefton can be reached at tlefton@sportsbusinessjournal.com.

Return to top

Related Topics:

Marketing and Sponsorship

Video Powered By - Castfire CMS Powered By - Sitecore

Report a Bug