NFL Europe has inked Quaker Oats Co.'s Gatorade to a multiyear pact in what league executives say is a model for future sponsorship deals.
And, in a separate agreement that could help inject the league with greater legitimacy in the European sports culture, NFL Europe has put together a marketing alliance with Adidas.
The esteemed and entrenched German footwear brand will supply shoes to three teams, supplanting Nike. The league also is talking with Adidas about becoming a full-fledged league sponsor.
Quaker is the first U.S.-based marketer to align itself with NFL Europe through a stand-alone sponsorship package. Sprint Corp. and Wilson Sporting Goods Co. both have NFL Europe sponsorship rights through larger pacts with the National Football League.
The European league's biggest sponsorship deal to date is with German footwear retailer Deichmann.
What NFL Europe wants to replicate in the Gatorade deal is the degree of marketing support the company will put behind it, said Don Garber, NFL senior VP-international.
"It's not about providing rights fees but sponsorship activation . . . which will help establish the sport for the future," Mr. Garber said, adding that the sponsorship fee is in the low six figures.
Quaker will concentrate its Gatorade sponsorship activities in Germany, NFL Europe's largest, most avid market. The brand will be sponsor of NFL Flag, a youth-targeted grass-roots marketing vehicle. Quaker will tout sign-ups at point of purchase with in-store promotion and consumer advertising, with media yet to be determined.
The sport beverage also will get sideline exposure with all 16 NFL Europe teams via Gatorade drink coolers.
NFL Europe launched its sixth season last weekend with a new name--it had been the World League for five seasons--and a new brandcentric, locally driven marketing strategy (AA, Jan. 26).
The new approach, seeking to reignite a business that has lost momentum in recent years, has begun to pay off. Team sponsorship revenues have doubled to a reported $10 million, with marketers including Ford Motor Co., Kellogg Co., Schloesser Beer, Suzuki Cars and VF Corp.'s Wrangler paying upwards of $200,000 each to get logos on team uniforms, among other benefits.
At the league level, a title sponsorship remains unsold. Coca-Cola Co. and Visa USA are vying for the package, whose value has been estimated between $1.5 million and $5 million.
Mr. Garber wouldn't comment on negotiations but expressed confidence Visa will come aboard at least as a league sponsor. If Coca-Cola becomes a title or league sponsor, it will be via a larger, U.S.-driven soft-drink sponsorship the NFL is currently trying to close.
Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola Co. are vying for the package.
On the TV front, NFL Europe has signed more expansive pacts with broadcasters in local markets, and has received a commitment from Fox Sports Net in the U.S. to air a game of the week on Sunday evenings at 6 p.m. in each market.
Copyright April 1998, Crain Communications Inc.