NFL INCLUDES KIDS IN MARKETING BLITZ

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The NFL is making a special play for kids this fall as it sets out to groom the next generation of football fans.

Relying on its young-skewing broadcast partner, Fox, and longtime sponsors Hershey Chocolate USA, Delta Air Lines and General Mills, the NFL is heavying up its promotions targeting kids.

Another element of NFL kid-targeted promotions this fall will center on the league's 75th anniversary, building on the already high awareness among kids of NFL teams and logos.

"We want to keep it that way. ... We encourage all our partners-our broadcast partners, sponsors, licensees and retailers-to work with NFL Properties and the 28 clubs to develop programs that appeal to our young fans," NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue said of the organization's latest efforts to target kids.

Hershey next month will bomb all NFL markets with a variety of sweepstakes promotions for its Reese's peanut butter cups, Bar None, Twizzler and Whatchama-callit brands.

Among the efforts: "On the Sidelines," in which winners can hang out with a team during a game, and "Huddle Up," in which NFL players will treat winners to dinner. The activity is backed by on-pack and point-of-purchase promotions; it was coordinated by Washington-based sports marketing company ProServ.

Delta next month will offer members of its 2 million-member kids frequent flier program a free "Happy Birthday, NFL" meal complete with NFL-theme games. The promotion will run through yearend, backed by a public relations effort from Delta.

General Mills, a longtime supporter of major league sports, will also put the NFL's 75th anniversary logo on boxes of Wheaties and this fall will introduce its first NFL-theme cereal, Quarterback Crunch. An ad effort from DDB Needham Worldwide, Chicago, is being considered.

Other NFL efforts from General Mills will include on-pack offers on Honey Gold Wheaties for $10 off licensed NFL merchandise sold at J.C. Penney Co., and a sweepstakes to win a $50,000 college scholarship sponsored by Penney's and the NFL.

With its recent series of irreverent, MTV-style on-air promotions showcasing the personalities of various NFL stars, NFL broadcasting partner Fox is also helping to build kids' awareness of the sport. This fall, Fox will add to the effort with "Grunt & Punt," a four-part Saturday morning series starring animated characters "Grunt" and "Punt" talking about their favorite NFL players.

The league has also coordinated in-house a multipage insert of diverse NFL merchandise with the logo NFL Kids, which will run in various family-targeted magazines this fall.

NFL merchandise sales totaled $3 billion last year, with sales of kids NFL products alone accounting for $320 million, NFL Properties said.

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