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Volume 20 No. 42
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NBC promotion delivers EPL to New York City

Maps at bus shelters pair Premier League franchises with NYC neighborhoods.
To promote its debut of the English Premier League, the marketing team of NBC Sports Group is taking Manhattan.

Beginning this week, select New York subway trains will be wrapped in artwork featuring two rival EPL clubs per car. Messages instruct riders to “Keep Calm and Pick Man City” or “Keep Calm and Pick Man United” when getting on.

Another effort will see maps of New York City posted at bus shelters “assigning” EPL franchises to certain neighborhoods.

Eight faux British cabs, painted in EPL club colors, will hit the streets of New York, as well, while traditional New York taxis will have toppers with NBC’s ads for EPL broadcasts.

“We’re looking to create that New York-style, buzzy experience,” said John Miller, NBC Sports Group chief marketing officer. “We’ll start by reaching the existing fans of soccer and the Premier League by making it clear that the league is now on NBC, and we have a very compelling offer of having every game on-air and online.”

The Brooklyn Brothers, an agency with offices in Manhattan, London and Brazil, created the concepts and design for the campaign.

Faux British taxis are also part of the marketing plan.
The effort comes as NBC begins its three-year, $250 million deal for EPL rights. Starting next month, all 380 games of the league’s season will be made available on an NBC Universal channel (most frequently NBC Sports Network) or on the network’s overflow package of channels, Premier League Extra Time. Games also will be available online via NBC Sports Live Extra.

As NBC replaces Fox Soccer and ESPN as the destination for EPL fans, the network hopes to win new ones by spotlighting the league’s fan culture. In Manhattan, for example, there are pubs associated with specific teams. It’s not unusual for an Arsenal fan in New York to be told to try another pub around the corner because, “This is a Tottenham bar.”

“Keep in mind, there isn’t a traditional hometown team in the Premier League for fans in the U.S.,” Miller said. “When you’re trying to sell a league where many of the people are not as familiar with the stars, I think showing them the excitement and emotion of the fans is one good way of doing it. We want to widen the net by growing the sport and creating a rooting interest.”

There are additional New York-based marketing efforts in play, as well:
A Times Square billboard, measuring 5,472 square feet, debuted two weeks ago with the image of Tottenham Hotspur star Gareth Bale and the tagline “Every Match. Every Team. Every Week.” The billboard, on 48th Street and Broadway, has been rented for one year, and NBC plans to change its messaging during the course of the season. According to a source, the rate card for a space of that size in Times Square is $200,000 per month. In the weeks leading up to the Aug. 17 start of the 2013-14 EPL season, an artist — expected to be chosen this week — will work daily in public view at the Times Square site on a new ad for the billboard.

NBC has signed a partnership with the online food-ordering service Seamless, which aggregates restaurants in select markets nationwide. For the first two weekends of the EPL season, when fans purchase breakfast from a restaurant through Seamless, the food will come delivered along with NBC/EPL promotional pieces.

The Seamless deal will be activated in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

“It’s a marketer’s dream: a way of delivering marketing materials to someone’s home, and they’re happy to get them,” Miller said. “I guess it makes the breakfast sort of our Trojan horse.”

The deal with Seamless was brokered by the Civic Entertainment Group (CEG), a New York-based marketing service company. (“American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest has a controlling stake). NBC Sports Group contracted with CEG in April to develop marketing campaigns and broker promotional partnerships for all of its sports properties. During the Stanley Cup playoffs, for example, CEG forged a deal between the NHL and Crumbs Bake Shop to create Stanley Cup cupcakes for the 16 playoff teams.

While reaching Manhattan’s avid soccer fans is the goal, a positive side effect of NBC’s marketing campaign is getting the attention of the press, social media and the many advertising agencies in New York City.

“New York is a market where activations can more easily go national through traditional media, and especially social media,” Miller said. “The concentration of ad agencies is an additional plus, but really an ancillary benefit to our consumer efforts.”

Nationally, Miller said that he will utilize what he and his fellow NBC Universal executives refer to as the “NBC Symphony” — its 20 NBC Universal channels, 33 Comcast channels and more than 60 websites — to promote EPL broadcasts. With the EPL season running from August to May, advertising will be seen during NBC’s coverage of “Sunday Night Football,” the NHL and the Winter Olympics in February. “That’s an 18-day window [during the Olympics] to go strong before a huge audience,” Miller said.