NFL Scores A Full House With Seventh Super Bowl Party In London's O2
On Super Bowl Sunday, London went NFL crazy. Jacksonville Jaguars cheerleaders danced on the stage, Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford talked to adoring fans in replica shirts and Jaguars’ players discussed how much they loved London. The NFL’s official Super Bash took place at the indigO2 inside the O2 Arena and featured more than two hours of entertainment and razzmatazz (interviews with stars, games, dancing, and loud music) before the screening of the game on a giant screen. The Super Bash is in its seventh year and the free event is now more popular than ever, with 32,000 applying for just 2,000 tickets, as U.K. fans clamor for a slice of the NFL.
WINNING THE FANS OVER: NFL UK Marketing & Events Manager Steve McEwen said, “The U.K. is the place where the sport is growing and the fans are growing. Our sponsors are putting more in and part of it [this event] is to make sure our sponsors are feeling part of the NFL. And we want to keep giving back to the fans.” Sunday night, sponsors were given an opportunity to showcase their brands, so big name sponsors such as Pepsi gave out free fizzy drinks, Budweiser free beer. Lesser known sponsors such as Majestic Athletic gave away 30 jackets in competitions staged during the evening. All the sponsors had visible branding at the O2, as they look to cement ties with the NFL. Stafford, whose Lions team will play the Atlanta Falcons at Wembley, said of the NFL’s status in the U.K., “You can tell it’s big. It’s getting bigger. I am definitely excited about it. This is my first time to London and I am having a blast.”
LOOKING FOR MORE GROWTH: The NFL’s U.K. office has between 15 and 18 staff headed up by Managing Dir Alastair Kirkwood and including marketing and digital execs, most of whom were there last night, engaging with the fans, who were mostly Londoners, along with a few visiting Americans. Along with Stafford, Jaguars players Jason Babin, Cameron Bradfield and Will Rackley -- who said of playing at Wembley, “I heard the atmosphere was great. And it was crazy” -- were also in attendance. All of the star players signed autographs with queues at least 50-people deep, as fans looked to get near their heroes. McEwen said it was the biggest Super Bowl party so far, but he expected it to grow in the future. McEwen: “We do events all year round. Last year, we had some players from the Minnesota Vikings do a press tour. We went to Manchester, Dublin, Leeds and London. We are always trying to keep the calendar going and keep giving back to fans.”
John Reynolds is a correspondent in London.