This week’s NFL draft is the first on a team’s home field and will be the largest in terms of sponsor activation.
Twenty-seven NFL corporate sponsors will market to fans at and around the Dallas Cowboys’ home AT&T Stadium, seven more than last year. More than 400,000 fans have registered to attend the draft inside the stadium through Fan Mobile Pass. About 20,000 seats will be available each day.
In keeping with the event’s Texas location, the sponsor activation area is enormous. Some 900,000 square feet, appropriated from stadium parking lots, will house the “Draft Experience,” for which Dannon’s Oikos Triple Zero brand yogurt is presenting sponsor. The kids-targeted Danimals brand is sponsoring the area’s “Play Football” field.
New NFL sponsor Pizza Hut’s first large activation sees it with a content play, which will encourage customers to perform a “doorbell dance,” linking the elation of a successfully delivered pizza with a rookie’s notification of being drafted. The pizza maker also will be feeding volunteers, draftees and media, as well as providing prizes that include pizza for a year. A local retail promotion is pending.
Hyundai has “Rolling With The Rookies” content featuring four rookies and vehicles designed by them. Truck rights holder Ford has a large display area along with an activation in which fans can record their TD celebrations.
Anheuser-Busch InBev, which sold more beer during the first day of last year’s draft in Philadelphia than it did during the entire 2016 event in Chicago, will activate with a Texas barbecue tailgate area and with viewing parties at the “Bud Light Ice House” pop-up tavern. Frito-Lay will entertain fans at its “Tostitos Cantina.”
Verizon, using the draft to push its frequency/loyalty program, sponsors a draft eve party, and is presenting sponsor of the red carpet area at the stadium, to which players will be chauffeured in Hyundai Genesis cars. Verizon is presenting sponsor of NFL Network’s draft coverage, while Marriott is presenting sponsor on ESPN. Nationwide will debut an ad supporting its Walter Payton Man of the Year sponsorship.
Rookies sporting their new team’s cap and jersey is a draft staple that New Era and Nike will handle, respectively. Nike also will hold a clinic featuring Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott. Nike’s rookie endorsers also will help customize cleats at a Dick’s Sporting Goods store in Arlington.
The NFL will be hosting around 1,300 business partners.
“The draft has grown to where it’s now a key calendar event for us and our partners,” said Tracie Rodburg, NFL vice president of sponsorship and partnership management.
It’s grown enough to warrant a record 50 draft-specific licensed products, according to Danielle Lazor, vice president of design, development and retail operations at Aramark, which handles merchandise sales for the draft. Aramark will buttress sales efforts with five trailers in the activation area and two kiosks at the main stadium entrance.