On Thursday, Sept. 10, the National Football League (NFL) returns to action in the U.S. when the reigning Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs host the Houston Texans. It’s an AFC matchup under the primetime lights featuring some of the game’s biggest stars, and two of the league’s top quarterbacks.
For fans, a new season and a clean slate brings hope and optimism. Everyone has a chance. The chance that their favorite team will win the Super Bowl and hoist the Lombardi Trophy, or that they may finally capture the elusive fantasy football crown. For marketers, the chance is an opportunity to deliver fresh creative and win the headlines.
Anticipation for the season start is in full swing, with fan excitement beginning as far back as April and the record-setting 55-million viewers for the NFL Draft. But the question marks are also looming large.
At Current Global, we’ve been helping our clients with league/team/school sponsorships and athlete spokespersons navigate contract amendments, allocation shifts and creative pivots dating back to March when sports came to a screeching halt. For some clients, cancelled events – such as college basketball’s March Madness Tournament, the Olympics and Major League Baseball (MLB) Opening Day – were slated to be a primary focus of their marketing plans. They couldn’t afford to go idle, so we created a new playbook focused on the virtual world.
In many ways, the last several months have been like football training camp. “The new normal” is a phrase we’ve grown accustomed to hearing, saying and living, yet in the world of sports, nothing is quite “normal” yet. With no situation or solution the same, we’ve gone through the exercises and learned the experience. We now have a better sense of not only how leagues will adjust, but how brands and marketers can successfully switch gears to engage with fans in a manner that is both effective and appropriate.
The National Basketball Association introduced a “bubble” with all playoff teams living and competing in Walt Disney World in Orlando. It sounded ridiculous when first introduced, but it’s proven wildly successful. The National Hockey League did similar with a pair of hub cities in Canada. MLB, on the other hand, has had nearly 40 games postponed due to coronavirus outbreaks. Most recently, two of the Power Five NCAA conferences – The Big Ten and Pac-12 – postponed all sports until 2021. A roller coaster doesn’t even begin to describe the sports landscape.
So here we are, just days away from NFL kickoff and we’re asking, are you ready for some football? Is football ready for football?
In a normal year, marketing boldness helps brands stand out from the crowd. But this year it will be the ability to dial-up an audible and make the right read at the line of scrimmage that allows brands to emerge victorious. Successful game plans require equally effective contingencies, because there is no precedent for 2020.
Our work needs to be unique and strategically crafted, but it also must be able to thread the needle when the window is tight. We’re asking ourselves and pushing our clients to think about whether an idea can be quickly turned on/off, if it fuels fandom in the new environment, and if it can achieve and sustain success regardless of whether the league makes it through a full season.
We’re gearing up for gameday with a variety of tactics including creative content, talent partners, contests and more to help our clients leverage the return to the gridiron and deliver on business objectives. Fans are craving football and football-based campaigns, but it’s on us to execute.
We’ve watched the film.
We’ve installed a solid game plan.
Now it’s our time to shine.
At Current Global, we’re ready for football!
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