Select a page

The NFL’s Impact on Marketing: Trends, Uses, Case Studies


Big hits. Big marketing. Alex proved in his article yesterday that the NFL has a huge impact on marketing, whether we’re talking about merchandise, events, endorsements, or TV/radio advertising.

But how big is big? What are the biggest, most lucrative marketing case studies related to the NFL? Let’s take a look…

Volkswagen and the Super Bowl

The Super Bowl is one of the biggest marketing opportunities of the year. In the 3 days after the Super Bowl was broadcasted, the top 10 ads earned a total of over $1 million in impressions via online videos.

Volkswagen’s “The Force” ad was the most popular, earning the brand $538,000 due to its successful viral strategy, launching a week before the Super Bowl and attracting heavy media coverage. Four hours before the Super Bowl even started, the ad had more than 12.5 million views on YouTube, 10,000 comments and 62,000 “likes.”

Bud Light and the Draft

On April 1, 2011, Bud Light began a multi-year sponsorship as the official and exclusive beer of the NFL. The beer brand is leveraging the sponsorship to provide fans new opportunities to connect with the League throughout the year, beginning with the NFL Draft on Thursday, April 28.  The centerpiece of Bud Light’s NFL Draft activation is the “Best Round Ever” consumer contest, which offers a $10 million grand prize to the fan who predicts the first round of the Draft perfectly.

Bud Light will activate heavily around all three days of the NFL Draft, including exclusive presenting sponsorship of ESPN’s coverage of all seven rounds of the Draft.  Bud Light will also advertise prominently during the NFL Network’s coverage.

On site at Radio City Music Hall – home of the NFL Draft – Bud Light will convert the mezzanine level into the Bud Light Fan Zone. Bud Light’s support of the Draft will extend nationally through additional on-premise promotions at bars and restaurants and a commemorative NFL Draft-branded Bud Light aluminum bottle.

The Steelers and Practice Jerseys

The NFL currently allows for sponsorship on practice jerseys, but Sponsors on game-day jerseys is currently prohibited. However, studies have shown that such a thing could be very profitable. According to a Horizon Media study, The Pittsburgh Steelers, as an example, could generate $14 million per season by slapping corporate sponsorships on players’ jerseys. The study determined a dollar figure by assigning an attribute to jersey exposure including total duration, logo isolation status, logo size and the cost of a 30-second unit in each market, as well as how many times a brand/sponsor can be viewed per game and how long it is visible at each detection.

In reality, the NFL would probably not consider game-day jersey sponsorship, but it does go to show the earning power of the NFL. For the sake of comparison, the Pittsburgh Penguins, arguably one of the most popular hockey teams in America, would only generate about $700K a year, if they similarly went the way of jersey sponsorship, according to the Horizon study.

So, why does the NFL deserve to be mentioned in the context of successful brand marketing, and perhaps even be considered the most successful sports brand in the US (even more so than Nike)?

The answer lies in a combination of the structure of the game and the brilliance of the marketing strategy behind the league…



Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Marketing 2020
White Paper Download

Please enter you name and email
address below to gain instant access to Marketing 2020!

Contact me to schedule a Marketing 2020 Lunch and Learn