While plenty of uncertainty surrounds the National Football League season, two of its prominent sponsors are moving full-speed ahead with their marketing plans, albeit with some twists for the pandemic era. Early moves by PepsiCo and Danone-owned Oikos Triple Zero give a glimpse of how brands are adapting their marketing for an NFL season that will be unlike any other.
The league is planning to play a full season—starting with the Sept. 10 opener—but a significant coronavirus outbreak would wreak havoc with the schedule, as it has with Major League Baseball. For brands, the NFL stakes are huge—marketers shelled out nearly $1.5 billion in sponsorships right fees last season, more than any other pro sports league, according to sponsorship consultancy IEG. Brands spent an additional $3.6 billion for ads during games and in pregame and post-game shows, according to Kantar Media.
For PepsiCo—whose spending on the NFL includes a Super Bowl halftime sponsorship—TV is what matters most, even if stadiums are empty or fractionally full. (Teams are taking different approaches so far as to whether they will even let fans in.)
“While everybody is talking about the stadium and the attendance, this is a TV sport, first and foremost,” says Todd Kaplan, VP of marketing for PepsiCo’s flagship soda brand. In a normal year, 95 percent of NFL fans watch games on TV, according to stats supplied by PepsiCo. With that percentage likely being even higher this year, the soda has built its campaign around the at-home viewing experience. The lighthearted effort, called “Made for Football Watching,” portrays watching the sport on TV as an elite skill. Goodby Silverstein & Partners created the spots.