Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 20 No. 42
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.

NFL hoping to get McDonald’s back on its sponsor menu

The NFL season kicks off this week without McDonald’s and TD Ameritrade as corporate sponsors. Each has failed to renew their pricey NFL rights deals.

McDonald’s has been an NFL corporate patron since late in the 2012 season, and its deal included presenting sponsorship of the Pro Bowl. McDonald’s failure to renew comes just a few months after it didn’t re-up its 41-year-old International Olympic Committee rights, a deal it ended three years early. Unlike the Olympics, McDonald’s shared its NFL quick-service restaurant rights with pizza giant Papa John’s.

Nonetheless, league officials are hopeful of getting McDonald’s to return in some capacity, even if it isn’t a seasonlong or multiyear deal. While generally infrequent, we recall one-off deals by the NFL in the QSR category for both Pro Bowl and Super Bowl rights with various QSR brands, including McDonald’s.

The millions McDonald’s spends on in-game advertising with NFL media rights holders, and on NFL team sponsorships, should carry some weight here. SportsBusiness Journal’s RG Live says the QSR has sponsorships with 15 of the NFL’s 32 franchises.

“We understand they [McDonald’s] are going through some changes and we will work for them on the changes that are necessary to make this work for both of us and allow us to continue to work together,” said Tracie Rodburg, NFL vice president of sponsorship and partnership management.

Online brokerage TD Ameritrade signed with the NFL just before the 2014 season, later adding Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck as an endorser. We note the addition of new CEO (he was president) Tim Hockey, who came into office late last year. Whether that factored into the nonrenewal is unclear, but Hockey has increased the company’s tech spending by 25 percent; hardly a resounding endorsement for sponsorship marketing.

Duncan Keith (with chest-hair dude) in an ad for Pepsi, which is near a renewal with the NHL.
PEPSI, STILL WITH ICE: PepsiCo, the NHL’s second-longest-tenured corporate sponsor, is close to taking the wraps off an extension of its North American sponsorship rights with the league for an additional five years. The deal will extend the soft drink and salty snack giant’s NHL rights through the 2021-22 season, with an option to extend it an additional two seasons. Around half the league’s teams are sponsored by Pepsi, an NHL league sponsor since 2006.

Pepsi uses its NHL league marketing assets largely to market its Gatorade isotonic brand via branded squeeze bottles atop goal cages. SportsBusiness Journal’s most recent Sponsor Loyalty Study, done in conjunction with Turnkey Sports & Entertainment, found that 47 percent of the 400 fans surveyed correctly identified Gatorade as the league’s official sports drink, the highest recognition rate ever received in the study by any NHL sponsor. Gatorade spent $4 million advertising during NHL telecasts last season, according to data from, up 150 percent from the 2015-16 season.

Along with the NHL, Pepsi has league sponsorship deals with the NBA and NFL.

MUY INTERESANTE: ESPN’s Jesse Palmer will be a face of Dos Equis’ “Most Interesting Fan of College Football” promotion, which offers “enshrinement,” of a sort, into the College Football Hall of Fame in the form of a life-sized statue, and a trip to the College Football Playoff National Championship. The ESPN talent cut a trio of spots recently in Bristol, Conn., for the promotion, supporting the brand’s massive CFP sponsorship, which encompasses both the College Football Playoff Semifinals, College Football Playoff National Championship and the “New Year’s Six” bowl properties.

Fans can enter on Twitter, Instagram and at by sending photos, videos or a tweet enumerating their qualifications.

Reed Bergman’s Playbook Inc. handles Palmer.

Actor and comedian Rob Riggle also appears in the Dos Equis college football promotion.
COMINGS & GOINGS: Having taken its licensing and merchandising rights in-house from the NBA for the first time in decades, the National Basketball Players Association has hired a former NFLPA licensing executive to head its nascent efforts. Josh Goodstadt joined the NBPA in August as executive vice president of licensing. Most recently, he was vice president, global licensing and retail, at HBO, where he worked for a decade. Goodstadt worked for the NFLPA from 2002 to 2007. He’s also worked for MLS club D.C. United. The NBPA leased player licensing and merchandise rights to the NBA for the past 20 years but took them back under the most recent collective-bargaining agreement. … Max Paulsen joined the NHL earlier this summer as director of business development. The Nantucket High grad was most recently director of global sales, media and properties, at Van Wagner Sports & Entertainment. Paulsen also worked in business development at the NFL and NBA.

Terry Lefton can be reached at