Motorola Signs Deal to Remain a Visible Part of NFL

Pays $250 Million for Five-Year Headset Sponsorship Extension

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Motorola has spent an estimated $250 million to lock up valuable media space: coaches' headsets on National Football League games for the next five years. The deal extends its existing agreement with the NFL as exclusive telecommunications supplier and partner through the 2011 season.
Motorola headsets will remain highly visible on the field for the next five years as a result of a new deal with the NFL. Here, Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren sports one of the headsets during a game last year.
Motorola headsets will remain highly visible on the field for the next five years as a result of a new deal with the NFL. Here, Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren sports one of the headsets during a game last year. Credit: AP

Media buys stay separate
Terms of the new agreement were not announced, but executives close to the deal pegged it at $250 million over five years. In addition, the marketer will continue its media buys on games separate from the sponsorship agreement.

Motorola is one of only two NFL corporate sponsors that have an on-field presence with clearly visible company logos. Gatorade, with its ubiquitous orange buckets on the sidelines, is the only other on-field sponsor.

Under the terms of the deal, Motorola will continue to be the NFL's exclusive telecommunications-hardware sponsor, both at the league level and with all 32 NFL teams. It will also expand from a national to a global NFL partner, enabling the marketer and league to test "technology solutions" in NFL Europe.

New tech concepts
While Motorola Chairman-CEO Ed Zander and new NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell declined to discuss the specifics of the new technologies, other executives told Advertising Age that the league has asked Motorola to test two new specific concepts.

One is for a digital hand-held device that will allow coaches to see opposing teams' formations and sets in real time. Coaches currently use black-and-white Polaroid still shots to take an aerial look at the opposing team as it lines up before each play. With a digital hand-held device, coaches could see these formations immediately and make adjustments faster.

The NFL has also asked Motorola to test headsets that could be placed in the helmets of all 11 offensive players. This would allow the quarterback to not only communicate with a wide receiver, for instance, but also with offensive linemen, who can use the devices to hear the quarterback better in loud venues and not have to anticipate when the ball will be snapped. This would result in fewer "false start" penalties on the offense, perhaps changing the very nature of the game.

"We are always looking at ways to improve our game through innovation, especially with a leading global company like Motorola," Mr. Goodell said. "We look forward to expanding our partnership to develop technology that will help our coaches and players on the field and enhance the enjoyment of the game for our fans."
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