With NFL Kickoff, League Builds its Bookend

(from Sports Business Journal, September 2, 2013) With the NFL season officially underway, major sponsors are ecstatic as they regain their primary marketing tool.  The kickoff of the NFL season seems to excite all kinds of different companies and fan bases, but no one would have ever guessed that it would be making a “Super Bowl-like” impact in the advertising industry.   Since 12 years ago when the annual kickoff celebration originated in Time Square, this event has taken off as a holiday of its own celebrating the return of professional football. Although no promoters are confusing the Ravens-Broncos season opener with the actual Super Bowl, they are well aware that a huge promotion opportunity does exist. Companies such as Bud Light, Microsoft, Pepsi, Verizon and Visa are partners of the league, and they all are launching NFL themed advertisements for kickoff weekend. John Brody, NFL Senior Vice President of sponsorship and media sales, explains, “When you look at how so many of our partners [are] using it, Kickoff has become another place for those associated with the NFL to be seen.”

The NFL-sponsoring companies are undoubtedly taking full advantage. However, it is impossible to ignore how much the NFL, itself, is profiting off of the festivities. Days before the game, the NFL already has events lined up. For example, the NFL has scheduled events such as a 5K Back to Football run, a Play 60 Youth Football Festival, and the debut of a film entitled “America’s Game: Baltimore Ravens.”  The NFL will also have new Kickoff apparel available to customers. NFL Shop at Kickoff in Baltimore believes New Era will be promoting its new fitted caps. The league will also be presenting its new women’s apparel which will be on display at a fashion show in Manhattan.  The NFL and all of its sponsors will be benefiting greatly from Kickoff weekend. Although Kickoff weekend is no Super Bowl weekend, it is not too far behind in the promotion aspect.