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Volume 22 No. 44
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NFL, USAA go camo for military appreciation

The NFL and corporate sponsor USAA kick off three weeks of games dedicated to military appreciation beginning with Thursday’s game between the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals as part of the league’s commemoration of Veterans Day. Every team will host a military appreciation game over the next three weeks.

On field, camouflage branding will be prevalent and there will be licensed “camo” NFL products from New Era, Nike and Under Armour, including gloves, hoodies, caps and hats, along with Gatorade’s sideline towels.

Camouflage branding will be used on the field and on licensed merchandise.
Photo by: NFL
It’s the fourth year the NFL is holding a “Salute to Service” and insurer USAA has sponsored all of those. During the offseason, the NFL effectively divided the marketing-rich insurance category, bringing in Nationwide and its massive media budget as the league’s new insurance partner, while retaining USAA as the league’s military appreciation sponsor.

Still, Don Clark, USAA assistant vice president, media and sponsorships, said that since USAA acquired NFL rights in 2011, measures of

{podcast}

SBJ Podcast:
Media writer John Ourand and Executive Editor Abraham Madkour discuss the NFL's Thursday night package with CBS and the NFL Network as well as the league's overall ratings strength.

brand health, purchase consideration and awareness of the sponsorship have increased.

“Our metrics are telling us this is meaningful and it’s positively impacting our brand at large,” he said. “Despite the noise in a very competitive category, our focus is on connecting within the military community, and the NFL has really helped there.”

The USAA campaign this year includes a number of NFL players with military connections — Robert Griffin III, Roger Staubach and former Chicago linebacker and current Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera — and their families, who are all USAA members.

Candidates for the “Salute to Service” award, which honors NFL personnel who demonstrate a military community commitment, will be announced this week. Two finalists are named at the Pro Bowl and the winner is awarded at the NFL Honors event the night before the Super Bowl.

Over the three weeks, the NFL will donate $100 for every point scored to each of its military charity partners: the USO, the Wounded Warrior Project and the Pat Tillman Foundation. Game-used apparel also is auctioned, and along with the proceeds of licensed camo merchandise, gross proceeds are donated to those same causes. Since 2011, the NFL has donated $2.35 million to these partners.

“As we’re working closer with our partners, we have seen a lot of the programs we’ve helped fund come to fruition,” said Anna Isaacson, the NFL’s vice president of social responsibility, adding that charitable proceeds, along with fan acceptance and awareness, are key measures for the program.

A card stunt during NBC’s Sunday night game between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers will see fans at Lambeau Field forming the message “Thank You Military, Thank You Veterans,” during the national anthem.

On the social media side, current and former military members are encouraged to share military pride and NFL fandom by submitting a photo or video to #MilitaryFan for a chance to win a trip to the 2015 Pro Bowl. Fans also will be encouraged to display their military appreciation by sending a “thank you” message to someone who has served via #SaluteToService.