NFL’s Image Comes Under Attack but Marketers Don’t Care

Football, and the National Football League (NFL) especially of this past year have been under attack. The heighten awareness of concussions, domestic violence, child abuse, and other unlawful acts by players have been at the forefront of sports news yet the NFL seems to be having no problem once so ever making money. The NFL consists of 32 franchises with an average team valuation of $1.43 billion and is the only league in the world to have a team valuation average over $1 billion (Winfree, 2011). Next year alone, NFL revenue is projected to be at $12 billion, about $1 billion more than this year’s revenue (Kaplan, 2015) and with all the heighten scrutiny of head injuries and character issues there still seems to be no sign of monetary success slowing down. In fact the NFL has become such a big platform that they have even attempted to charge half time performers at the Super Bowl to perform because the exposure is so great.

NFL Blog 1  NFL blog 2

A big part of their monetary success can be contributed to marketing. The NFL has become such a dominant platform for brands that marketers don’t care about the scrutiny of the league. The question for them is how to deal with the task of making a strong statement against wrong doings of the NFL such as domestic violence and child abuse while not jeopardizing deals in place with the league. The NFL is too reliable a platform that reaches an array of demographic audiences to lose as a partner for almost any brand or company. The NFL dominates TV ratings with over 120 million viewers every Sunday (Pharr, & Lough, 2012) and packs new multimillion-dollar stadiums every week with an average yearly stadium attendance of 516,238 spectators at home games, the highest of any professional sports league in the past 5 years (Quinn, 2012). With this type of audience its no wonder marketers face this dilemma.

Nfl Blog 3

The attraction for marketers is so great because the NFL is seen as a fully integrated marketing channel during the fall. The idea is that any type of association with the league means exposure to a wide audience, not just through broadcasting but a variety of platforms. The league has become so social, which is the main reason to accredit its wide fan base. The NFL will strive to continue market expansion through social tactics that will benefit advertisers to hone in on various fans that can be capitalized for monetary profit. The NFL recognizes this, marketing and advertising execs recognize this, thus business endeavors and continued brand partnerships will continue grow for the NFL and other companies, organizations & brands (Hirt, & Clarkson, 2011).

References:

Germano, S., Vranica, S., & Clack, K. (2014, September 17). NFL Sponsors Speak Out—but Keep on Advertising. Retrieved from: http://www.wsj.com/articles/nfl-sponsors-speak-outbut-keep-on-advertising-1410997534

Hirt, E. R., & Clarkson, J. J. (2011). The psychology of fandom: Understanding the etiology, motives, and implications of fanship. Consumer behavior knowledge for effective sports and event marketing, 59-85.

Kaplan, D. (2015). Sports Business Daily. Retrieved from (http://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/Journal/Issues/2015/03/09/Leagues-and-Governing-Bodies/NFL-revenue.aspx)

Pharr, J. R., & Lough, N. L. (2012). Differentiation of social marketing and cause-related marketing in US professional sport. Sport Marketing Quarterly, 21(2), 91

Schiff, M. (2014, August 20). The NFL reportedly wants to charge artists to play the Super Bowl halftime show. Retrieved from http://www.axs.com/news/the-nfl-reportedly-wants-to-charge-artists-to-play-the-super-bowl-half-17219

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3 Responses to NFL’s Image Comes Under Attack but Marketers Don’t Care

  1. Jason Williams says:

    Nice write up, I also wrote about the NFL’s marketing image as far as corporate social responsibility and brand image. It is interesting how several of the most iconic brands around the globe have all had their issues. Nike with the sweat shop issues, Exxon and BP with oil spills, McDonald’s high calorie – fake food issues, Coca-Cola using cocaine in their soda’s and several others.

    I think the popularity of these brands before is what helps save them in the end. Like you pointed out, the NFL is fully integrated and even though it’s viewership is often male dominated, this has been changing over the last few years. This is why it was important for them to move swiftly on the domestic violence issues. They cannot afford to lose the newly acquired interest of women.

    In the end, people are interested in watching or attending the games and this keeps companies interested in using the NFL to market their products. Corporations are looking to use their money and resources in the most effective way to reach the largest audience at once. Big sporting events such as the NFL, World Cup, NBA and others attract millions of viewers. As long as their popularity is high, marketers will always see their events as a way to reach the largest audience possible.

  2. Kelly says:

    Hi Gustavo,

    Great post! As a diehard NFL fan, I am always tuning in to watch the games. You bring up an excellent point about the level of integration the NFL has incorporated in its marketing strategies. Despite the league’s negative media attention due to cases such as Ray Rice’s incident of misconduct, the deflategate scandal and Adrian Peterson’s suspension, the NFL has remained highly profitable. As I was deconstructing the NFL’s response to Ray Rice’s wrongdoing, I discovered just how important the NFL’s marketing campaigns are. I found it quite interesting that despite the organization’s high profitability, the NFL is actually considered a tax-exempt trade association (Dosh, 2013). With many high-profile partners and sponsors, the NFL has an increased responsibility to uphold ethical standards. During the controversy surrounding how Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL handled the Ray Rice situation, several of the organization’s partners and sponsors began to rethink their relationship.

    However, Crest was the only sponsor that actually cut ties with the league following Ray Rice’s incident. The NFL has managed to retain the majority of its partners and sponsorships, due in part to its public relations efforts. The NFL has maintained its commitment against domestic violence, sexual abuse, and all other wrongdoings by revamping its New Personal Player Conduct Policy. As you stated, marketing and promotional efforts will continue to grow as organizations attach to the NFL brand.

    References:

    Dosh, K. (2013, June 6). Examining NFL’s tax-exempt status. Retrieved from http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/9342479/examining-nfl-tax-exempt-status-challenged-us-senator-tom-coburn

    Reuters, J.S. (2014, September 24). NFL sponsors should cut ties over scandals poll says. Retrieved from http://www.reviewjournal.com/sports/sideline/nfl-sponsors-should-cut-ties-over-scandals-poll-says

  3. Samantha says:

    Really great blog post, and you’re absolutely right. It really is amazing how the NFL manages to keep its image despite the PR disasters it has gone through and are still going through currently. They have an amazing marketing strategy with everything integrated successfully – television commercials, print, social media, merchandise, etc.

    I think what I’m most surprised about is how the NFL has survived all of this given the public’s (particularly the most recent generation’s) moral compass. Corporate social responsibility is extremely important in today’s society, but it doesn’t seem to have affected the larger brands such as NFL. You’re right – why should marketers care if the brand isn’t losing sponsors?