The National Football League’s centennial season just touched down and with it a bevy of activations from brands new and returning are rolling out. This year, 32 sponsors and licensees are launching experiential activations and social initiatives including Pizza Hut, Oakley, Roc Nation and Bud Light. Ahead we’re spotlighting the largest brand partnerships of the football season so far.
A newcomer to the NFL brand partner roster is Roc Nation, the Live Nation-owned music label that rapper Jay Z is signed to. The NFL announced a long-term partnership with Roc Nation before the start of the season, naming it the league’s official “live music entertainment strategists.” Roc Nation will consult on artist selections for NFL tentpole performances, including the Super Bowl, and help create and distribute music across music streaming services for a variety of initiatives including a potential live visual album.
Roc Nation is also helping the NFL launch a new social enterprise, its Inspire Change apparel line, available later this year. The new phase of the initiative will help fund programs of NFL platform “Inspire Change,” which was created to help players and owners support various education, police-community relations and criminal justice reform initiatives.
Additionally, the partnership will also produce “Songs of the Season,” a season-long initiative that showcases musicians and their work via NFL promotions and digital streaming platforms worldwide.
Back for its second year of NFL sponsorship and the official pizza sponsor replacement for Papa John’s, Pizza Hut has created an interactive collect-and-win game called “Hut Hut Win” that runs all year and gives fans the chance to win over 10 million instant prizes including merchandise, trips to the Super Bowl, Draft Weekend tickets and more. To enter, fans must spend five dollars at Pizza Hut then head to the site to register for the game. The more virtual game pieces fans earn—a total of 32, the number of NFL teams—the higher their chances are for scoring grand prizes. Pizza Hut is engaging consumers by asking them to vote via the brand’s Twitter poll on one of three NFL-related prizes, which will be up for grabs in the Hut Hut Win sweepstakes.
“The first year of the partnership helped us increase awareness and reach more fans across the country, which was a big priority for us. This season, we’re making our partnership with the NFL work harder for the everyday fan, bringing them closer to the game as possible. We’re looking forward to continuing the momentum we started last year by bringing this partnership to life and delivering unforgettable, unexpected fan experiences all season long,” Marianne Radley, chief brand officer, Pizza Hut, told AList.
Additional immersive prizes include making pizzas with Pizza Hut NFL player partners such as making pizzas with Juju Smith-Schuster at Pizza Hut global headquarters, unlocking an escape room with Tyler Lockett and having a ping pong pizza party with Pizza Hut’s newest brand ambassador, Aaron Donald.
Pizza Hut will also highlight its player partners in four new television spots airing this season.
The most unexpected activation of the football season has to be Oakley’s four-year partnership as the NFL’s official on-field partner and licensee. Oakley will provide all 32 teams with its shields and eyewear, and for the first time in history, players will have the option of wearing Prizm Clear shields, which were engineered to provide more color, contrast and clarity for detail recognition on the field. The product is highlighted in a 60-second video spot Oakley created from the point of view of players during a football game. Oakley has produced football shields for helmet for more than 20 years.
To celebrate the partnership, Oakley hosted an event at Times Square where the center’s giant billboards went pitchblack before displaying a video spot showing New York Giants players followed by the announcement that Oakley is now a partner of the Giants.
Fans can also rep their favorite teams with the new customizable NFL eyewear collection from Oakley, available for all teams in two men’s styles and seven teams in one women’s style.
“There is obviously a tech and player safety component to the deal which makes for great storytelling, and Oakley has made investments in athletes and teams before as that is their sweet spot. What the ROI on the consumer side will be is in the future; they inserted themselves into a narrative on player health and innovation which, in addition to their logo, will drive great awareness,” sports and entertainment marketing consultant Joe Favorito told AList.
Bud Light is teaming up with the Cleveland Browns football team to open a pop-up store in Cleveland called “B.L. & Brown’s Appliance Superstore” that sells Bud Light Victory Fridges. The fridges created a local pandemonium last year when Bud Light installed them in bars around Cleveland. Now the company is selling a limited number of various-sized fridges, ranging from $200-$600, on September 3 and 4 from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.
WWE pro wrestler and Browns fan, The Miz will star as the pitchman in an infomercial about the appliance pop-up that began airing on Cleveland television August 30.
Longtime partner of the New England Patriots, Dunkin’ is giving DD Perks Members added incentives for using a Dunkin’ card or mobile ordering. On the home opener night, September 8, members will receive six times the points, or 30 points per dollar spent—as opposed to five—on any hot or iced coffee. Through the 2019 season, DD Perks Members will also earn twice on any size hot or iced coffee when paying via Dunkin’ card or mobile app ordering. The promotion will be valid at participating Dunkin’ locations in the Northeast.
The NFL recently adopted new guidelines on alcohol sponsorships that allow beer brands who partner with teams to use images of players to advertise their products. That includes NFL beer sponsor Bud Light and also extends to brands who have existing team relationships or wish to establish one. The updated policy could be one reason why craft breweries owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev have created branded beers with teams this season such as the Seattle Seahawks, Los Angeles Rams, Denver Broncos and others. Still, brands are barred from using the likeness of active players for these beers.
To launch its 17th consecutive sponsorship of the NFL, Pepsi launched a campaign called “Always Be Celebrating.” Activations include a national television ad that features dynamic animation elements and touchdown celebrations, and the introduction of the “Pepsi Cause for Celebration” program. For every touchdown, Pepsi will donate funds equivalent to 100 meals to the team’s local United Way Worldwide.
Jersey Mike’s Subs
Now through November, Jersey Mike’s is going on a 14-week college tailgate tour across the country with a branded trailer placed in high traffic locations on college campuses. Fans can enjoy a free sub sample when they download and show the updated Jersey Mike’s app or sign up for the newly launched MyMike’s rewards program. The pop-up tailgate party will feature an outdoor lounge area where guests can play lawn games, enter giveaways and use the custom Snapchat geofilter. At each event, tailgaters can enter to win four tickets to a football game scheduled for 2020 including airfare for the winner and up to three guests.
“Because of the unique 18 game structure of the NFL, brands that invest are usually about big spend, big engagement. It’s not a place on a national level for small budgets with the expectation of a big ROI. It is much more structured in terms of assets and access than the other big five leagues in North America, but if you can find the niche, and the narrative that makes sense to cut through the clutter, the voraciousness of the fan base can be a big win,” Favorito added.