NFL near signing Nationwide as sponsor
The NFL is close to adding a massive insurance partner to a category in which it already has a sponsor, allowing it to extract more money from a hypercompetitive category.
Industry sources said Nationwide Insurance late last week was in the final stages of what one involved party said was a potential eight-figure sponsorship agreement, but the two parties were still in discussions. One apparent impediment to adding a new insurance sponsor is USAA, the military insurer and financial services company, which has held the NFL’s insurance category since 2011.
Nationwide announced deals with the Broncos and Peyton Manning in May.
“This is something only the NFL could do,” said an agency source that represents NFL partners. “It allows them to keep a sponsor with [military appreciation] rights they find valuable … while bringing in an insurance brand that will buy all the media they have for sale at a level USAA never could.”
Under the proposed deal, Nationwide would be a founding partner of the forthcoming NFL Now digital video service and the presenting sponsor of the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.
Nationwide’s other sports sponsorships include naming rights to the NHL arena in Columbus, Ohio, where the Fortune 100 company is based; a PGA Tour stop; and sponsorship of Roush Fenway Racing driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (see chart). It also continues to endorse and feature Danica Patrick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in advertising during Cup races.
Also in the running for NFL rights is State Farm, a former NFL corporate sponsor that has employed high-profile Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers as a spokesman since 2011 and has NFL team sponsorships with Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Houston, Jacksonville, Philadelphia and Seattle.
In an effort to return to the ranks of NFL sponsors, State Farm agency Optimum Sports was pushing a proposal under which a number of camera-visible end-zone signs would have been part of the deal. However, sources said that ambitious plan has been shot down.
After this season, Nationwide is ending its sponsorship of NASCAR’s secondary series, which it has sponsored since 2008. Earlier this year, it signed large deals with both the Denver Broncos and the face of the NFL, Peyton Manning, a leading NFL pitchman. Last year, the company signed a significant deal with the Dallas Cowboys and former Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Ware, who is now a member of the Broncos.
“Insurance is not at all a new category for sports, but it has become one of the noisiest,” said David Paro, executive vice president of Van Wagner Sports & Entertainment, which has worked on MetLife’s sports marketing. “It’s an effective way to get their message out there to the right target, driving Web traffic has become more important for the category, and you are also seeing more value brands emerging. That all adds up to more sports media and more sports sponsorship spending.”