DIRECTV RETURNS TO FOOTBALL FANS TO DRIVE BUSINESS

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DirecTV will try to romance football fans for its coming year of NFL games, with a $15 million to $20 million campaign starting Aug. 5.

The ads, from Campbell-Ewald, Los Angeles, promote the "NFL Sunday Ticket" package of games. TV spots in the campaign spoof "The Dating Game."

Although only 18% to 20% of DirecTV subscribers get "NFL Sunday Ticket," in recent years it has driven much of the company's business, said Tom Bracken, VP-advertising.

Last summer, total subscribers jumped 40% over 1997 because of DirecTV's first major "NFL Sunday Ticket" campaign, he said.

Those ads featured consumers shopping for NFL games, pushing individual players in shopping carts.

CHIP NOW THE STAR

In the new commercials, a fan named Chip asks questions of NFL players, who in turn try to romance his viewing habits. The Denver Broncos' Terrell Davis responds that he'll run for 300-yard games; Dan Marino of the Miami Dolphins says he'll throw for 400 yards. Finally, the Green Bay Packers' Brett Favre attempts to lure the fan by saying he'll buy pizza.

The point, of course, is that while broadcast stations give fans one or two selected games, DirecTV provides up to 13 games every Sunday, almost 200 through the regular season.

The "NFL Sunday Ticket" package costs $159 for the season.

A 30- and a 60-second spot will run on sports and other male-targeted programming on network, cable and syndication through mid-September.

Other elements of the campaign include print ads in Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News and newspapers in 30 markets. Point-of-purchase displays will appear in some 26,000 retail locations that sell DirecTV equipment.

'FULLY INTEGRATED'

The satellite service's four big consumer-electronic retail partners -- Best Buy Co., Circuit City Stores, Montgomery Ward & Co. and Radio Shack -- are supporting the campaign with mentions in their Sunday newspaper circulars and some TV promotions.

"It's a fully integrated campaign," said Mr. Bracken.

Other NFL players used in the spots include Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts, Jake Plummer of the Arizona Cardinals and Steve Young of the San Francisco 49ers.

DirecTV secured the stars through the NFL's Quarterbacks Club, a marketing

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