Are you ready for some football?
Brand marketers have been for months, but they’re no longer thinking only of Super Bowl Sunday.
Many have expanded from one-time stunts to season-long promotions.
Take Visa, which hit the market Sept. 1 with an NFL-themed sweeps. The firm awarded 17 trips for two to watch their favorite teams play on the road. Cardholders used their Visa cards or filled out a form at Visa.com to enter.
In addition, Visa is now plugging its status as the official NFL payment system with more than 350,000 pieces of Super Bowl XLI-themed P-O-P materials across 1,200-plus Miami merchants.
“We program our marketing to build our brand and our products,” says Visa spokesman Michael Rolnick. “Partnerships, event marketing and national promotions are particularly effective for some messages.”
Likewise, FedEx is conducting a season-long NFL Players of the Year program. Fans will record their picks at NFL.com, and the company will reveal the winners prior to the Super Bowl.
Not that the TV commercials have disappeared. Many brands are willing to pay up to $2.6 million for the coveted 30-second spots.
One is Pepsi. “This event offers an incredible opportunity to showcase our products on the world’s biggest stage,” says Nicole Bradley, a spokesperson for Pepsi-Cola North America. “Pepsi is a mass brand, and reaching a mass audience like the one watching the Super Bowl makes sense for us.”
But that isn’t all Pepsi is doing. It is also offering $15 in coupons with the purchase of select Frito-Lay and Pepsi products. And it is backing the promotion with P-O-P, in-store circulars and on-pack stickers. The goal is to “help bring events like the Super Bowl to life for consumers in store,” Bradley adds.
Burger King, meanwhile, is skipping its 60-second spot, which it ran during the 2006 Super Bowl. Instead, the chain is conducting a sweepstakes dubbed the BK Bobble Bowl. It will give burger eaters a chance to win a trip for two to the game.
The sweeps, which can be entered at bkbobblebowl, started last fall and will run through Jan. 5 with the help of VML.
And Burger King will this month kick off an in-store, NFL-themed promotion featuring the tagline: “Feed Your Inner Champion.” The purpose: to build sales of its larger Whopper sandwiches.
“Our aim is to embody the spirit and passion of the NFL playoff leading up to the Super Bowl, and to bring the NFL experience to every consumer in our restaurants,” says Martha Tomas Flynn, senior director, marketing impact adult promotions & sponsorships for Burger King Corp. And in-store signage will give the chain a “locker room feel,” Flynn adds.
Moreover, Burger King is handing out 15 million King bobble head toys, one for every meal purchased for a child. This is the first time this character has been used for a toy. Equity Marketing is handling the premiums.
“Our alliance with the NFL really provides a way for us to express our brand in an entertainment property in way that is meaning to consumers,” Flynn says. “We are bringing the two things consumers love together and delivering on it.”
Coors, the official malt beverage of the NFL, will start its push during the playoffs this month. It has joined with Campbell’s, Sprint and Sirius Satellite to offer a free party guide in stores. This contains coupons and discount offers and a $15 rebate off a $30 purchase of snacks and soda.
In addition, the brewer has created themed beer cans and has worked with Integer Group to develop a sweepstakes on CoorsLight.com. It will award a grand-prize trip for two to Super Bowl XLII in Glendale, AZ in 2008.
“The Coors Light drinker is also very often an NFL fan,” says David Wilson, national sponsorship manager for Coors Brewing Co. “Our association with the NFL allows us to deliver unique programs, like our Super Bowl program, that no other beer can. These are designed to get NFL fans closer to their favorite game.”
The effort will be supported by online ads, out-of-home and 60-second radio spots.
Don’t think that marketers are ignoring the game itself. Many will make a major push during the Feb. 4 event, described by NFL Vice President of Partnership Marketing and Corporate Sales Peter Murray as “a holiday in and of itself.”
“The Super Bowl is the culmination of the season,” explains David Grant, principal, Velocity Sports & Entertainment, which handles the FedEx program. “It’s a nice stage from which to make a lot of noise.”
For example, Frito-Lay has invited consumers to create their own Super Bowl spots for Doritos, blending promotion and advertising. The winning ad will air during the game — unaltered.
How many people have answered the call? More than 1,000, and it’s not over yet. Fans can vote for their favorite ad among the five finalists starting on Jan. 5 at CrashtheSuperBowl.com.
Meanwhile, an on-pack instant-win game puts codes on 50 million Doritos bags to give players a chance to win football-themed merchandise. TPN, Dallas, handles the game.
“Promotions play a significant role,” says Doritos spokesperson Jared Dougherty. “This year, the ad has turned into the promotion. Extending our TV spot promotion months prior to the game is a great way of making our advertising dollars work harder for us.”
Doritos isn’t the only brand with this idea. Chevrolet hosted a similar contest for film students in 340 schools. The brand’s ad agency, Campbell-Ewald, will produce the best Super Bowl TV spot conceived by a student.
Offline, Doritos has teamed up with Publix Supermarkets for an in-store event that asks NFL fans to show how extreme they really are. Consumers in 33 locations will compete before a team of judges, with the winners getting a trip to the Super Bowl. Runners-up will win tickets to the NFL Experience at Dolphin Stadium.
Despite evidence to the contrary, all football-related marketing isn’t only about making money.
Visa has renewed its Financial Football literacy program for a second year under its NFL sponsorship. Players visit high schools and talk about their money managing experiences. And it designed a game at PracticalMoneySkills.com to teach financial literacy to students. It has been downloaded more than 100,000 times since its September 2005 launch.
Like many other promotional activities, this campaign concludes during the Super Bowl in Miami.
Whether you’re cheering your team at the stadium or watching from your plasma TV, marketers will find you.