Can the NFL Brand Sustain a Presence in the UK?
The NFL brand is one of the strongest brands in the USA, with last year’s super bowl watched by an incredible 111.5 million people worldwide. For a 30 second half time TV advert during the super bowl the charge was a staggering $4 million! This alone shows just how powerful the NFL brand is.
The NFL are now seriously considering a NFL UK based team and this even has the backing of the UK chancellor George Osbourne. “I’ve said to the NFL that anything the government can do to make this happen, we will. Osborne later remarked, “I’m going to go with my son to one of the NFL games that are coming up at Wembley in the next few weeks. I think that there’s a chance in the next few years to get an NFL team for London.”
But how has the NFL brand in the UK got so big it now has government backing?
Demand for the Brand
The NFL has gone from strength to strength here in the UK since the first game at London Wembley stadium in 2007, between the Miami Dolphins and the New York Giants. This year has seen 3 games played in the UK with all 240,000 tickets available sold out in record time.
This proves that the NFL Brand is stronger than ever here in the UK and if ticket sales for the events are anything to go by, we will shortly be seeing a NFL team based here in the UK.
But where has this sudden demand for the NFL in the UK come from? Two places that have driven the NFL’s brands popularity here in the UK are....
Television and Media
The NFL is now on the UK’s premium sports channel Sky Sports every weekend and the channels show 4 live games each week. In Sky Sports, the NFL has a broadcasting partner here in the UK that specialises in exploiting and developing brands to the public.
Take the English premiership for example:
The English football Premier League in 1992 was the first project by Sky, which has seen a cataclysmic rise in popularity. Initially signing a deal worth £304 million to show live matches, Sky are now part of a multi-channel rights group that is pumping more than £3 billion into the sport.
But it would be naïve to think that Sky Sports only promotes the NFL via TV. They have a strong marketing strategy that includes inbound marketing methods to make sure they attract the maximum amount of people watching the coverage and ultimately driving consumers to buy subscriptions from them.
They do this with:
- Very Strong Social Media presence using dedicated NFL accounts to reach a large UK market.
- Blogs for all types of the NFL target market from complete beginners in American football to content written for the avid American Football fans.
- Great website that gives NFL fans information, giveaways and opportunities to interact with the NFL in return for information from fans via landing pages and forms
- Free guides and E books to help fans learn more about the rules, teams and players.
- Regular videos relating to the NFL presence in the UK and helpful videos for all types of NFL fan.
The relationship between the popularity of the NFL in the UK and the fact that Sky Sports has increased its coverage is no coincidence.
The NFL coverage is going the same way in the UK with Sky Sports in October having 24 hours of NFL on their channel.
Bigger and Better
I don’t know of many sports that can bring the major streets and monuments of London to a complete standstill. What the NFL has done in recent years is close Regent Street and Trafalgar Square to create fan parks on Saturdays when the NFL is in town. The event delivers an experience people will never forget with live music, special guests and fan interaction. Not only do the events draw in large crowds of NFL Fans to the capital but also pulls in crowds of people who have little or no interest in the sport. This is due to the scale and locations of these events with over 600,000 people in attendance.
The events also match the ambition of the NFL by having events that are bigger and better than anything ever seen in the UK before and this fits the NFL brand perfectly.
With help from Sky Sports and the major events in London, the NFL Brand is starting to become a big player here in the UK. The brilliant marketing and brand management by the NFL and Sky has made sure that the following of the sport in the UK is now so big that a UK based NFL team is not far away.
Article by Dale Bonser