It’s that time of year again! Football season. Yes, football season. And if you haven’t noticed, you might be living under a rock. Because no one does marketing the way the National Football League does.
Throughout history the omnipotent church has been a very powerful influencer in society, packing the churches with loyal followers every Sunday. But now Sundays are dominated by another organization, whose loyal followers are not packing the churches, but around TVs, bars and stadiums.
Why Are People Crazy About Football?
It has become increasingly difficult these days to escape the reach of the NFL. They have the combine, the draft, pre-season, the regular season, the playoffs, the not to mention, the Super Bowl. It is this year-round positioning strategy that keeps NFL fans engaged 24/7.
What makes people love football so much? Neurologists can actually explain this love for football down to science.
In author Steve Almond’s book Against Football: One Fan’s Reluctant Manifesto he wrote, “What’s happening in football for a fan is that you are combining this primal aggressive buzz (with) this unbelievably strategically dense game. Baseball players are static. Football is carefully controlled chaos.”
The NFL has been successfully exploiting the fervor that its fans have towards the game, grabbing the top spot as the most profitable professional sports league in the world. Last year alone, the tax exempt NFL generated $7.24 billion in revenue. It comes as no surprise every 2 out of 3 Americans watches the NFL, and advertisers understandably so, have been looking to capitalize.
Advertisers Are Spending Big Bucks
To put in perspective how willing marketers are to reach their consumers via the NFL platform, the average cost of a 30-second commercial last year on “Sunday Night Football” was around $625,000. Nielsen reported in 2014, “Sunday Night Football” was the most-watched primetime program averaging 21.3 million viewers. When addressing the 800 lb. gorilla in the room, the price for a 30-second commercial for Super Bowl 50 was $5 million, or about $166,666 a second.
At its peak, Super Bowl 50 commanded the viewership of over 115 million Americans. It is this dominance over the TV airwaves that allows the NFL to charge such steep prices for their advertising time slots, and maintain their position as one of the leaders in the American entertainment industry. This trend is not expected to slow down anytime soon, as football only replaces baseball as “America’s Game” more each year.
The NFL has developed a timeless brand that knows how to connect with its audience. Football season takes this country by storm every year, and supplies its fans with thrills throughout the week: Sunday, Monday and more recently, Thursdays.
The rise of fantasy football has strongly reinforced brand awareness with participants becoming even more invested in the NFL product and around-the-clock news.
From rampant scandals varying from domestic abuse and drug usage from its players to a fear of brain injuries, people are still drawn to the NFL in record numbers. One of the chief reasons the NFL brand has had unbelievable success despite lawsuits, crime and negative PR is because they have been in sole control of all imaging, licensing, and implementation.
This regulation over their content, paired with access to great financial resources has allowed the NFL to highlight their messages of charity, volunteer work and the supporting of our troops via many channels. The coverage the NFL promotes about how much the league gives back to the less fortunate has by far outweighed the negative stigmas that have only proven to be speed bumps for the professional sports behemoth.
When analyzing the long-term marketing strategies the NFL has been successful in executing, we have to focus on their expanded appeal of the sport to untapped consumers. This can be seen in their efforts to engage the international market with the long-time annual game played in London, increasing to three total games this year in England. As well as the reemergence of the NFL presence in Mexico City where the Texans and Raiders are squaring off November 21, 2016.
It has now become a question of when, and not if, the NFL is going to permanently establish teams outside of the United States, as the international fan base continues to increase. NFLLatino.com features prominent Hispanic players such as Tony Gonzalez, and has done a tremendous job reaching out to the Latino community with Spanish content.
Now the NFL has specifically begun to direct efforts towards women. This is evidenced when looking at the current marketing campaign “Football is Family” which features advertisements where NFL Sundays are a family tradition and a staple of family identity.
Overall, the sky is the limit for the NFL and it will be interesting to see how they execute their marketing strategies looking towards the unpredictable future.