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NFL UK Creating New NFL Sponsorships

October 24, 2011 1 comment

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced that the NFL has signed an agreement to continue to play regular season NFL games in Britain through 2016. Commissioner Goodell has begun conversations with several NFL teams about playing in Britain on a regular basis.

Commissioner Goodell is accepting volunteers to play in Britain over the next four seasons.

This week we seen the Tampa Bay Buccaneers play the Chicago Bears in London,  the second game in three years Tampa Bay has played in London.

It didn’t take long for companies to jump at the sponsorship opportunity of NFL UK. The first being Papa Johns, currently the official pizza sponsor of NFL in the U.S. Papa Johns has now signed an agreement to become the official sponsor of NFL in U.K. Shortly after Chrysler signed an agreement to become the official auto sponsor of the NFL in UK. Chrysler started promoting before the Tampa Bay vs Chicago game this past week with activation booths at the pre-games. Chrysler, among other incentives will have participation in key events such as the Super Bowl. The agreement also includes sponsorship of Sky Sports which is live coverage of the NFL during the 2011 season.

I’ve seen games overseas before and it has crossed my mind how sponsorship rights would work for these games. I assumed that the NFL, regardless of where it was played, would be treated as one entity. Obviously this is not the case. I believe this could potentially be good for companies looking to either improve exposure through the NFL or companies looking to expand to an international market. On the other hand it can be somewhat annoying for companies who are currently official sponsors of the NFL. While it currently is only one game per season, Commissioner Goodell would like to expand to multiple games a season. A small problem with that is this could intrude on the territory of  companies with currently have deals with the NFL US as I believe their would be a slight confusion of who was the NFL sponsor and who was the UK. Also, like I stated before Chrysler will have activities and promotions during the Super Bowl and on Sky Sports. While for Papa Johns, who is the official sponsor of both NFL US and UK has nothing to be concerned about, General Motors, the current official auto sponsor of the NFL US may have a reason to be upset. Now they will have Chrysler practically competing as the NFL Official Auto Sponsor.

I wonder who will be the next to jump at the opportunity to sponsor NFL UK.

L.A. in the Market for a NFL Franchise

July 26, 2011 7 comments

In the last few years we’ve heard the rumors that Los Angeles was close to bringing a NFL franchise back to the city. Los Angeles has a history of stealing NFL Franchises away first with the St Louis Rams in 1946, then with the Oakland Raiders in 1982.

Rending of the $1 Billion stadium courtesy of Los Angeles Times

Nearly 40 years later L.A.  is at it again attempting to entice a NFL franchise to move back to the City of Angels. Recently the city of L.A.  released a draft of a “Memorandum of Understanding”  which is a basic outline of an agreement between AEG and the city to build the $275 million dollar wing on the Los Angeles Convention Center and the attached Farmer Field for a $1.2 billion stadium and events center. AEG President Tim Leiweke  is hoping to have the city council vote July 31st on whether they will issue the nearly $300 million in bonds and approve the deal, but recently stated he expects it to slip into August. At this present moment this means very little as the official deal would be about one year away. The agreement also states that construction cannot begin until a NFL team has signed a contact to play at Farmer Field. There has also been a little competition within the city.

This image provided by AEG shows the proposed NFL stadium, to be named Farmers Field in Los Angeles. It would have approximately 72,000 seats, with 200 luxury seats and 15,000 club seats.

Ed Roski’s real estate development company Majestic Reality has had permits in place for nearly two years for its 75,000 stadium east of L.A. but has not secured a NFL team.

So who’s it going to be? With the agreement getting slightly closer, five potential teams have been thrown in the conversation. The teams being the San Diego Chargers, St Louis Rams, Oakland Raiders, Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Minnesota Vikings. All teams in different markets with the exception of Oakland and San Diego. Currently San Diego is the favorite as they started in L.A. at Coliseum and also have tried desperately to get a new stadium to replace their 45-year-old Qualcomm Stadium. ESPNLA announces that

“The Chargers can announce their intentions to leave San Diego between Feb. 1 and April 30 of each year through 2020 if they pay off the bonds, which currently would be about $26 million, used to expand Qualcomm in 1997.”

But dont count out the other four teams. At this point it could be any team who moves to Los Angeles. I believe you could make a good argument for each team. As for attendance the Oakland Raiders could use the most help as they have not only the lowest attendance of the five potential teams, but they also recorded the second lowest attendance in 2008 next to the Detroit Lions with 462,000. The Oakland Raiders also had the lowest value of any NFL Franchise  in 2009 at $797 million with an operating income at -$5.7 million according to Forbes.com . It seems as far as numbers, the Raiders could use the most assistance. Not to mention with the NFL sharing ticket revenue taking one of the lowest ranking teams in attendance and potentially making them a top 10 ranking as far as attendance could be very good for all teams. Regardless L.A. will bring a strong fan base and a high atmosphere to whomever chooses to come in addition to a new stadium in a high entertainment market. Oakland has my vote, but what do you think?

Rutgers Coach Proposes Alternative to Kickoff


Rutgers Head Coach Greg Schiano

After watching Junior Defensive End Eric Legrand lay helplessly on the field after a head collision last October, Head Coach Greg Schiano begin thinking of a way to make the game of football safer that help prevent an injury from happening in the future for all levels. It is no secret that Kickoffs are one, if not, the most dangerous part of the game of football. For this reason the NFL recently moved the Kickoff to the 35 yard line to lessen the chance of injury. Coach Schiano proposed a Kickoff Alternative that would be safer for all players while not drastically changing the game.

Schiano Plan:

“Replace all kickoffs with a punting situation, including after the opening coin toss and to start the second half. So, as an example, when Team A scores a touchdown, it immediately gets the ball back on a fourth and 15 from its own 30-yard line. It can punt it back to Team B — the most likely outcome and a safer play since the bigger collisions usually happen on kickoffs. Or it can line up and go for the first down, essentially replacing an onside kick with an offensive play that would require more skill than luck.”

I personally think this has potential to considered at the Collegiate and Professional level. It keeps returns in the game and also provides an opportunity for a team to retain possession. Punting from the 30 would result in a similar outcome as an average kickoff. In the 2010 season the smallest average for a starting punter in the National Football League was 40.1 yards. With the average punt return near ten yards players would fall short of the 40 yard line. This is a double edge issue as teams with elite punt returners such as the Chicago Bears, New England Patriots, or San Francisco 49ers, will have a strong advantage and could potentially start a majority of their drives on their opponents side of the field. Another issue would be the 4th and 15 option instead of punting. While one would think being on their own 30 would be enough of a risk to influence coaches to punt, many teams have players who average 15 yards. In 2010 21 WR/TE averaged 15.0 yards  per catch or more, with several more averaging 14.0 yards per catch or more. Not saying that coaches would choose to go for it after every score, but it would be well in their grasp. I believe making the 4th and 15 a 4th and 20 would be a slighty more difficult and would reflect the difficulty of an onside kick  more accurately.

Schiano was also questioned whether the receiving team would be allowed to attempt a block of the initial punt. When asked Schiano said “I don’t think that’s what you’re looking to do with this. Maybe that’s not an option – maybe you can’t block the punt because that’s not what you’re looking to accomplish here. Maybe it’s one of those deals like in an All-Star Game where you can’t block the punt, that it would have to be all return game.” One scenario I thought about when I read the details of this rule is the possibility of a team dominating the time of possession. Think of all the shoot out games where teams trade punches for the entire game. The entire game is filled with big plays and at the end it is the team who has the ball last that wins. In a game where there is little defense a team could potentially score, be successful on a 4th and 15, and repeat. The opposing team could have a hand full of possessions the entire game. Yes it is a long shot, but in certain games where it is all offense for both teams it could happen.

I personally love Kickoffs. I don’t believe the hype before a Kickoff would be the same if it was a Punt. That being said you cannot put a price on how safe the game could be and with the recent emphasis on players safety in the NFL I believe this idea is at the very least worth considering.

What do you think?

CBA Negotiations Conveniently Starting Right Before the Super Bowl?

February 1, 2011 Leave a comment

For nearly one year now every professional football fan has held their breath thinking of the possibility of not having a 2011 NFL Season. Within the last few months I know I’ve personally been concerned as every website, blog, interview and hobo on the street has said there has been very little progress, if any,on the situation. If you let executives tell it we were months away from watching the weather and local news on Sunday afternoons instead of our favorite team.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell

Fortunately within the last few weeks progress seems to be made. Yesterday it was announced that the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Executive Director of the NFL Players Union DeMaurice Smith will meet to discuss the CBA.

DeMaurice Smith Head of the NFL Players Union

It was also announced that this will be the first of several meetings over the next few weeks. Some of the key issues to be discussed would be the extension of the regular season from 16 to 18 games, rookie wages, and player retirement support. For  many this was a sigh of relief. As I’m sure after the Super Bowl with no season to look forward to many fans were beginning to look for other outlets to fill the huge whole the NFL could have potentially left. Now that CBA talk has been planned to begin the fans of the other 30 NFL teams can begin to look forward to their off-season. This potentially coming months after the Super Bowl, how convenient , right? After hearing this and thinking about it I believe it’s to convenient. “But why would they do that?” You may ask. Well personally I believe it was to keep rating consistent with the past years. Rating scores for the 2010 Super Bowl Top Five commercials were lower than 2009, in turn were lower than the 2008 ratings. As a result prices for the 30 second spots during the Super Bowl have declined over the years.  In 2010 30 second ads were selling for $2.5 Million to$2.8 Million, compared to an average $3 Million in the 2009 Super Bowl. While still very expensive, this is not a trend the NFL would like to tolerate. CBS believes under hard economic times companies are only looking to advertise during the Super Bowl if they plan to introduce a new brand or maybe a new company.

The Betty White Snickers commercial ranked 2nd in the 2010 Super Bowl Commercial Ratings, but barely made the Top 10 compared to the 2009 commercial ratings and even lower for the 2008 ratings

So I believe the NFL intentionally postponed the negotiation of the CBA to attract more viewers to the Super Bowl as many would believe it could potentially be the last NFL game for over a year. Within these viewers would be directors of advertising and marketing of successful company’s. They would believe just like the average viewer that this would potentially be the last NFL game for sometime and jump at the opportunity. As a result competition and prices for the ad spots would increase. “But wouldn’t this cost the NFL for delaying the negotiation?” Doing this will cost the NFL nothing with the current CBA expiring on March 3rd. For the average NFL fan what I believe is the CBA is closer along then many believe. I believe in the next month we will see progress start to roll. At the end of the day, no one wants to be out of the job come March and at home mowing the lawn on Sunday afternoon.

Pro Bowl Weekend Great for Media and Viewers Attention

January 28, 2011 1 comment

The NFL Pro Bowl will be hosted the week before the Super Bowl to increase viewers.

This year the NFL continued its rearrangement of the NFL post-season games. This year the NFL Pro-Bowl will be held on January 30th, one week before the NFL Super Bowl. This was experiment to increase media attention and television viewers. It was thought to believe the Pro Bowl would be a great way to ease into the Super Bowl while increasing the number of viewers. I believe this experiment will see results, but I do not believe it will see significant results. The NFL is going from a two-week break until the Super Bowl to the Pro-Bowl being hosted, but is this the right way to approach this problem?

The NBA All-Star Weekend is held every February with several events over the three days.

Every American professional sport league host some sort of All-Star game. The NBA has All-Star Weekend, the NHL has their All-Star game, and the MLB has an All-Star Weekend. All of these All-Star events are very successful, in the way that many people look forward to them. So the question is what is the difference between these All-Star events and the NFL Pro-Bowl? One, outside of the NFL all other professional events are held during their regular season.

The MLB All-Star Weekend includes several events outside the game itself

The NBA will be hosting their All-Star Weekend the weekend of February 18th-20th, the NHL All-Star game is Friday January 28th. Fans get to take a break from cheering on their favorite team to the post season to watch some of the best athletes in their respected sport compete with and against each other. Second, and more importantly I believe the reason the NFL doesn’t have the same success as other american sports is because of the several other events other sport leagues host. MLB, NHL and NBA host All-Star Weekends, not just games.

The NBA Dunk Contest is key event during the NBA All-Star Weekend

In addition to games each league host some sort of competitive  skill competition, all but the NFL. All other leagues host weekend long events with several forms of entertainment.  To increase the success of the NFL Pro-Bowl, the NFL must offer more forms of entertainment.

Just like other leagues, the NFL could host a skills competition. There could be three competition, Arm’s competitions to see which Quarterback could throw the furthest and most accurate,

A obstacle course could be a great competition for skilled players

a Obstacle course for where backs could compete to see who was the most agile, and a Hands Competition where receivers could see who had the best hands. There is currently a similar event hosted for professional bound college football players. The college event has been successful and only proves that a professional event could be just as successful. This event could be hosted on the day before the Pro-Bowl to provide a post-season event filled weekend. Fans are always interested in who has the best skills in any sport. By providing more events during the All-Star weekend the NFL could increase ratings and media attention. If the NFL took this route they would need to keep the Pro-Bowl Weekend before the Super Bowl. Doing this would not take away from the Super Bowl, nor would the Pro Bowl risk losing viewers. For the NFL it is simple, to get more viewers, you must offer more to them.

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Will Hewlett Packard’s San Francisco 49ers Sponsorship Achieve a ROI?


In July of 2010 Hewlett-Packard announced it would become a new sponsor of the San Francisco 49ers. Starting at the beginning of the 2010 season Hewlett-Packard was the “Presenting Sponsor” of the franchise including such things as the 49ers Training Camp. While any sponsorship relevant to sport more than likely results in a financial return, will HP products be of any interest to San Francisco fans?  HP senior vice president and chief marketing officer, Michael Mendenhall, said, “HP is synonymous with innovation. Pairing our brand with the San Francisco 49ers, one of the most storied franchises in the NFL, creates a dynamic combination that can bring together fans of both organizations.”

HP the Presenting Sponsor of the San Francisco 49ers

It seems they are hoping to pair the strong history and success of the San Francisco 49ers to HP products, which, in theory, is not a bad idea. Unfortunately we are in the era of the “Fair Weather Fan”, the fan who only supports to team that is successful. I have personally seen this being a Detroit Lions fan. I was fortunate enough to be a fan while the great Barry Sanders was still playing. While the Lions never made it to the Super Bowl, they did make post-season several times in 1990s. Unfortunately, the Lions have not seen much success since (excluding the last few weeks), caping it off by becoming the first franchise to go 0 -16. As a result all my family and friends who loved watching the Detroit Lions growing up, refuse to consider themselves a “Lions Fan”. In fact, referring to someone as a Lions fan is only step above an insult. I mention this because in the late 80s and early 90s the San Francisco 49ers were questionably the best team in the league with their only competition coming from the Dallas Cowboys. Unfortunately since those glory days the 49ers have not had much success. This year they cannot seem to find a consistent starting QB and they recently just fired their head coach.

Hewlett Packard visible during a Post-Game Interview with Mike Singletary

Sadly, I’m sure HP did not expect this San Francisco team that entered the season with such high expectations to go experience so many set backs.So although the 49ers have historically been a successful team, to the young market that HP appeals to, they are just another team that hasn’t had much success. I mention the “market that HP appeals to” because HP considers themselves one and the same with innovation. Being a company that prides itself on innovation, on introducing the latest and most technological products you must know that the older generation of people will not relate to you or your products. Many of us cannot get our parents to text us, let alone use touch screen desktops and web-printers. So going back to my original question, will HP receive a Return on Investment with their sponsorship of the San Francisco 49ers? Given the argument above, I believe not. With the team struggling on all levels this season, I believe it is safe to say the strong fan base of the 49ers is looking pretty weak. In addition to this the 49ers with their lack of success in more than the past decade, have not grab the attention of any new fans.

Marketing A Bad Team

September 24, 2010 1 comment

As a Michigan resident and Lions fan I’ve had the pleasure of having many of the Lions games “Blackout”. For a while when I said I was “watching the game” that meant I was sitting at my computer waiting for updates on ESPN’s Gamecast. I can still remember sitting at my computer during the 2009 season and seeing that the Lions were within the five yard line with seconds to go against the Cleveland Browns. I waited for 25 minutes before the final score came up. So how does a team avoid getting blackout? Well sell out, but that’s of course easier said then done. Winning teams fight to keep their tickets online, while losing teams fight to get people in the stadium. So how do you go about marketing a losing team to get people in the stadium? Make the customers’ experience, affordable, unique and memorable. As a intern for the University of Michigan Sport Marketing department I have the pleasure of doing a lot of marketing for the Big House. Even when the team was losing we still managed to get over a 100,000 fans in the stadium. Of course this has little to do with the marketing, but more on the tradition of the Big House. Being at a Michigan game, regardless of how the team is doing, is an experience like no other. Aside from the football, I also get to participate in the marketing for some of the lesser known sports such as Field Hockey, Gymnastics, and Track & Field. Increasing attendance at these sporting events is a little more difficult as you can imagine. People are less interested in these sports and naturally less likely to come. To give students and fans incentives to come we offer giveaways, food, and other prizes for people to come. For many games or events here at Michigan the students are given free pizza or hot dogs.

Ford Field during a good game

The Detroit Lions offered good deals on their concessions such as free refills on soda and popcorn at their home opener against the Philadelphia Eagles. You want to attract fans to the games with the free food and prizes, but you want them to stay for the experience they had. You want to them to think of the sporting event when they are deciding how to entertain themselves or friends and family. You can’t continue to give free food for every event, but you can provide a great experience for them. The Lions are lucky in the since that they finally seem to have a team being put together. After a very successful draft and busy off-season the Lions have a building defense and a young offense with high potential. The new team facing the “Worst Team In The League” title is the St Louis Rams. The Rams are out to an expected 0-2 . St Louis is slightly different from Detroit in the sense that one decade ago St Louis was a threat. Detroit has not had an amazing team, a team worth watching, since the 1950s when they had one of the best secondaries in the league. St Louis made the right move and drafted QB Sam Bradford with the first pick of the 2010 draft. Now the Rams only need a couple of rebuilding years to strengthen their team. They need to make sure they hold the fan base by keeping the atmosphere of the games high, because god knows it won’t be the success of their team that keeps them coming back.

Teams that are going through struggling years need to keep the atmosphere of their games high. Fans incentives for coming to games is to see their team win. When the team struggles to get those necessary wins it is up to the franchise marketing department and provide the atmosphere  to give fans incentives to buy tickets and come to the games. Most fans (excluding the life long die-hard fans) will use the excuse “I’m not going to pay to see my team get killed. I will be a fan from my own home and keep my money in my pocket until they prove to me they can win games again.” Providing that atmosphere will get fans to the games.