NFL Playbook: Tracking how brands are marketing around an uncertain season
The National Football League is in the midst of the most unique season in its history. Most teams are not allowing fans into games—at least, initially—and those that are opening their gates are capping attendance at a fraction of normal stadium capacity.
For brands, the situation brings challenges, but also opportunities. While in-stadium marketing will be virtually impossible, the lack of fans creates new venues for branding, like backing technology meant to recreate the in-person experience.
Below, a continually updated look at how marketers are adapting.
Jan. 12, 2020
1:05 PM EST
Viewers turn up for the NFL on Nick
Nickelodeon's broadcast of Sunday night's NFL wildcard game was the kid network's most-watched program in total viewers in nearly four years, with over 2 million viewers tuning in. In all, over 30 million people watched the Chicago Bears take on the New Orleans Saints across CBS and Nickelodeon, making it the most-watched game of Super Wild Card Weekend.
Jan. 4, 2021
2:30 PM EST
Pepsi drums up business for Black-owned restaurants
In a bid to support minority-owned small businesses, Pepsi has launched Dig In, a public platform that the food and beverage giant is using to commit $100 million in sales to Black restaurants over the next five years—though it doesn’t stop there. “The platform also serves as an invitation for Black restaurateurs to tap into a variety of resources available from PepsiCo including business services, training and mentorship,” the company says.
To back up the initiative, Pepsi and ad agency Ten35 created a new TV commercial that showcases four real eateries in Texas, Florida and Washington, D.C., and invites Americans to “dig in to support Black-owned restaurants.” First airing during the Dec. 26 NFL playoff games, the 30-second “Savor the Sound” spot is slated to run through Super Bowl Sunday. The company has also stated that it plans to expand its Dig In-related engagement efforts through early 2021.
—Ethan Jakob Craft
Dec. 22, 2020
10:45 AM EST
Muppets crash ‘Monday Night Football’ in all-Disney affair
Disney owns The Muppets. It also owns ESPN. So it was only a matter of time before the fuzzy characters crashed “Monday Night Football.” That happened Monday when Kermit and Miss Piggy opened last night’s Steelers-Bengals game in a segment dubbed “Muppet Night Football.” (Watch the full clip below.)
Fozzie Bear handled sideline reporting duties with Statler and Waldorf offering hot takes from the stands and Animal providing “halftime entertainment.” The integration was handled by ESPN’s Creative Content Unit. More details here. By the end of the game, Steelers fans probably were not laughing after their team lost to the hapless Bengals.
Dec. 21, 2020
12:45 PM EST
Rams star gets into food content biz
Los Angeles Rams star Sebastian Joseph-Day is turning his love of food culture into a side business. The nose tackle on Jan. 1 will debut “Dine & Bash,” a digital series airing on YouTube that promises to highlight the origin stories and top dishes at L.A. restaurants. He credits his love of food to his parents, who are from Haiti, and says he grew up watching them make dishes like chilean seabass, homemade risotto and lamb. The series is produced by Malka Sports.
Dec. 16, 2020
12:23 PM EST
Lamps Plus launches signature lamp for NFL player Forrest Lamp
A signature shoe endorsement, sure. But a signature lamp deal? Home furnishings brand Lamps Plus has revealed a new “signature lamp” for Los Angeles Chargers offensive lineman Forrest Lamp, whose name no doubt inspired the idea. Lamp has been a Lamps Plus partner since 2017, when he was drafted to the Chargers. The lamp itself resembles a Sequoia forest tree with a faux wood finish and whicker shade. It stands at 5 ft. tall and is selling for $200 on LampsPlus.com and in select Lamps Plus stores.
Lamp posted about his new light to his social channels last week, where his posts generated 10 million impressions within 24 hours, according to the brand. Lamps Plus also used five other “non-influencer” Chargers fans to share the lamp in their homes. Not all professional footballers can hope for a shoe endorsement or national ad campaign, but a lamp deal isn’t too far off. “I’ve dreamed of having my own signature shoe, so having a Lamps Plus lamp with my name is right up there,” says Lamp in a statement. “Because a lamp is used almost daily, it’s crucial.”
Here’s Forrest Lamp with his Forrest Lamp:
Dec. 10, 2020
2:00 PM EST
Football Flashback: Volkswagen’s 2011 Super Bowl spot ‘The Force’
Before Baby Yoda, there was Little Darth.
Late last month, we said farewell to a “Star Wars” icon with the passing of David Prowse, who (physically) played Darth Vader in the original trilogy. In memoriam, we look back at one of the most iconic Super Bowl ads of all time, “The Force,” the endearing story about how a father used his Volkswagen to help to fulfill the fantasies of his “Little Darth” son.
The ad was created out of Deutsch L.A. and directed by Park Pictures’ Lance Acord. Like Apple’s “1984” before it, the 2011 spot has been credited for changing the Super Bowl as we had known it. Going against the convention of keeping its Big Game spot on lockdown until the big day, VW had decided to run the ad online ahead of time.
Though it wasn’t actually the first brand to do so, the brand saw more success with the strategy than any others before it. Before the Super Bowl even started, the ad had more than 10 million views and more than 10,000 social media comments. By Monday morning, post-Super Bowl XLV, the ad had 15 million views and then 20 million the following day. In subsequent games, a flood of other brands, naturally, took a page from the VW playbook for their own Super Bowl endeavors. On top of that, though, it was simply the best Big Game story we had seen in a very long time.
Look back on more Big Game moments in Ad Age’s Super Bowl archive.
11:15 AM EST
TurboTax returns to the Big Game
TurboTax is returning to the Super Bowl for the eighth consecutive year, as it expands its sponsorship deal with the NFL. The company will use the game to once again promote its TurboTax Live product, which connects users to live experts. TurboTax’s Super Bowl ad is part of a larger deal between parent Intuit and the NFL. The company renewed its deal as the official sponsor for financial and accounting software through 2022, with TurboTax serving as the presenting sponsor of both the AFC and NFC Divisional and Championship games for the 2020 season. The NFL postseason and Super Bowl align perfectly with TurboTax’s busiest time of year and it's an opportunity to reach people as they prepare to do their taxes, says Cathleen Ryan, VP of marketing for Intuit’s consumer group.
Dec. 4, 2020
2:15 PM EST
Toyota the first automaker to commit to Super Bowl LV
Toyota will air its fourth consecutive Super Bowl ad to promote its Highlander. While it seems General Motors will also air spots in the game, Toyota was the first automaker to official confirm its ad commitment to Super Bowl LV. The auto category is expected to be lighter in Super Bowl LV as the industry grapples with the fallout of the pandemic. In 2020, Toyota used the Big Game to kick off a campaign for its Highlander. It has not revealed any details regarding the tone of the creative or how many commercials it will run in the game.
11:32 AM EST
Declining interest in NFL drives ratings drop
Here’s a simple reason TV ratings for NFL games are down: People are less interested in the NFL, according to research by CivicScience. Tracking surveys by the research firm show interest level in the NFL off around seven percentage points from last year, close to the 6% decline in Nielsen ratings.
Most U.S. adult respondents (54%) are at least somewhat less interested in the NFL this year than last, according to CivicScience. Only 11% are more interested, while 35% are about as interested as before. The firm has tracked declining interest overall since early 2018, with notable increases between January and February driven by the Super Bowl.
The report speculates that poor performance by the league’s most popular teams – including both New York franchises, New England, Dallas and Philadelphia – may be to blame.
Also, watching the NFL is much less of a social activity this year than last, for obvious pandemic reasons. Asked their favorite way to view games, 87% of respondents say at home on their own TVs, while only 78% say that was their favorite way before the pandemic. The numbers for those who prefer watching at a bar/restaurant (5%) or at a friend’s home (2%) are way down from the 9% who say they preferred bars/restaurants and 4% who preferred friends’ homes before the pandemic.
Only 2% of people cited an online streaming service as their favorite way to watch, down from 5% pre-pandemic. Among Hulu subscribers, though, 22% say they prefer streaming games. A far lower 13% of Amazon Prime subscribers prefer streaming.
11:15 AM EST
CBS drama 'The Equalizer' gets the coveted post-game slot
CBS is awarding the post-Super Bowl slot to its new drama “The Equalizer.” Starring Queen Latifah, the series will premiere immediately after Super Bowl LV on Feb. 7 before moving to its regular time slot on Sundays at 8 p.m. “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” and “The Late Late Show with James Corden” will also air original episodes following the late local news. Historically, the post-Super Bowl spot is reserved for networks’ most promising series and is often a reflection of the content that’s expected to get the most buzz.
Dec. 3, 2020
12:25 PM EST
Ad Flashback: 84 Lumber
For this week’s Throwback Thursday, we’re taking a look at an overtly political spot from 2017: 84 Lumber’s “The Journey Begins.”
Just days after President Trump took office, riding high on a wave of anti-immigrant sentiment and promises to build a wall that Mexico would pay for, the Super Bowl featured a few ads that tiptoed around the subject. This spot by Brunner for the lumber chain took it head-on with protagonists looking for a way to cross the border into the U.S.
Fox, which broadcast the game that year, deemed the original cut too political, so shots of an actual giant wall can only be seen in the online-only version, as well as the tagline “The Will to Succeed Is Always Welcome Here.” That’s a pretty clear message. Or is it?
After the game, statements from 84 Lumber’s CEO (who claimed to be a Trump voter) seemed to contradict the implied welcome in the spot, disavowing undocumented immigration and attributing the inspiration for the imagery in the spot to the president himself.
This season's Super Bowl comes just after Joe Biden's inauguration, so we’ll see if brands want to weigh in on politics or if the pandemic will loom too large.
Revisit more Game Day laughs in Ad Age’s Super Bowl Ad Archive.--I-Hsien Sherwood
10:30 AM EST
CBS sells out about 80% of Super Bowl ad inventory
Despite COVID-19 ravaging the NFL this week, CBS has still been able to offload a large part of its Super Bowl ad inventory.
The eye network is about 75% to 80% sold out of commercial time in Super Bowl LV, with about eight to 10 spots left, according to media buyers and people familiar with negotiations. Historically, those last handful of spots are typically the hardest to offload. While CBS is lagging behind Fox’s fast pace of sales for the 2020 game—Fox had sold out of ad inventory before Thanksgiving—the eye network is still currently ahead of where it was when it last aired the game in 2019.
CBS is currently sold out of all slots in the first quarter, all A positions (the first slot in a commercial break) and all Z positions (the last spot in a commercial break) in the first half of the game, according to multiple buyers.
Read more here.
Dec. 1, 2020
3:53 PM EST
Thrillist gets in on at-home viewing action
Just as more NFL teams scale back plans to admit a limited number of fans, Thrillist is out with a new site dedicated to at-home sports viewing rituals. The site, which specializes in content around food, drink, travel and entertainment, today launched The New Gameplan. Articles include “How to Host an At-home Tailgate” and “10 Fire Pits Under $300 That Will Warm Up Any Backyard Hang.” Lipton signed on as an official sponsor.
Nov. 30, 2020
4:35 PM EST
NFL stars and top Madden NFL players to coach players in hunger-focused esports tournament
Campbell’s Chunky, the official soup sponsor of the NFL, along with the non-profit organization Genyouth and retailer Target, are kicking off a Madden NFL 21 tournament that offers star power for top players and the goal of getting donations to help deliver meals for kids.
The top eight competitors in the “Chunky Million Meals Challenge Madden NFL 21 presented by Target” tournament will be drafted by "Champions of Chunky" team captains. Those include NFL players such as Saquon Barkley, Dalvin Cook and Justin Jefferson, to provide football knowledge, and Madden NFL pros for help on how to play the video game.
"COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on schools, as they are in desperate need of equipment and resources to feed the one in four children who now live in food insecurity,” Genyouth CEO Alexis Glick said in a statement. “For many kids, school meals are their only access to daily nourishment."
Players can sign up starting Dec. 1, with play set to begin on Dec. 19. The finals are set to be played in late January and shown on the NFL's official Twitch and YouTube channels. Organizers hope to get enough donations from those watching the tournament to deliver 100 million meals for kids. CSL Esports is working on the free-to-enter open invitation tournament, and additional support is coming from America's Dairy Farmers and Doritos, along with headphones contributed by Bose, organizers announced.
-- Jessica Wohl
11:19 AM EST
COVID-19 continues to hinder NFL games
Yesterday, the Denver Broncos faced every team’s nightmare scenario: with coronavirus concerns sidelining all four of its quarterbacks, and the NFL’s new pandemic-era rules preventing the immediate signing of free agents, the team headed into its face-off against the New Orleans Saints without a quarterback—asking a squad practice receiver to fill the position temporarily. The result? The Broncos were trounced, 31-3.
Denver’s dilemma is just the latest in a recent string of incidents that have left the San Francisco 49ers without a home stadium and the Baltimore Ravens-Pittsburgh Steelers game, originally set for Thanksgiving Day, in limbo. After several smooth-sailing weeks, players and coaches across the league have been testing positive for COVID-19, leaving many to question the NFL’s decision to move ahead with a quasi-regular season. For marketers, the repeated rescheduling of games has frenzied ad dollars, and with the Super Bowl barely two months away—and slated to be played in hard-hit Florida, no less—all eyes will be on football’s coronavirus response in the coming weeks.
—Ethan Jakob Craft
Nov. 23, 2020
11:07 AM EST
The NFL doubles down on Fortnite
The NFL is strengthening its ties to Fortnite. As part of its deal with game owner Epic Games, players starting Nov. 25 can outfit in football-themed avatar skins available for purchase from Fortnite’s in-game shop—with uniforms available for all 32 NFL teams. The NFL will also do an integration with Epic-owned Rocket League. “Football fans who enjoy cars and soccer can experience it all in one game with this latest NFL and Epic collaboration,” according to a press release. "The response we saw from our initial integration within Fortnite coupled with the popularity of Fortnite among NFL players and fans has been incredible, and we're excited for another opportunity to give gamers a chance to express their NFL fandom within Rocket League," states Rachel Hoagland, NFL VP and head of gaming and esports.
Nov. 19, 2020
3:10 PM EST
Football Flashback: Puppymonkeybaby
It’s Throwback Thursday, so let’s take a moment to revisit one of the most polarizing moments in Super Bowl history: Puppymonkeybaby.
The year was 2016, and after a 16-year absence, PepsiCo’s Mtn Dew returned to the game to promote its Kickstart extension. From a brand whose Big Game legacy included entertaining thrills like a cheetah who races a mountain biker and a quartet singing the praises of Dew (a la Queen), the re-entry demanded something big. Agency BBDO New York, with direction by Smith & Jones’ Ulf Johansson, threw together some of the most popular Super Bowl cliches into one disturbing, Frankensteined beast: it had a pug’s head, a simian torso and a baby’s bum. The creature, which recited nothing but “Puppymonkeybaby” as it shook its diapered booty, promoted the drink’s combo of “three awesome things combined: Dew, juice, caffeine.”
The spot topped Ad Age’s Super Bowl Ad Review that year, but didn’t even make the Top 50 of USA Today’s Admeter (it ranked 55, and there were 63 spots that year). We only wonder what would have happened if it had arrived in the age of TikTok.
Revisit more Game Day laughs in Ad Age’s Super Bowl Ad Archive.
11:35 AM EST
Go touchless or go home
Long-time NFL sponsor Visa announced plans for touchless payments at the Super Bowl in an effort to adhere to social distancing guidelines. On game day, all payments, including parking, concessions, retail purchases and mobile orders will be accepted digitally, Visa and the NFL said. This marks the first time the event is cash-free. Visa has also released a guide around incorporating touchless payments into the events process for venues. At Super Bowl LV, ATMs that give out pre-paid Visa cards for cash will be available as well.
Nov. 18, 2020
5:05 PM EST
Pro Bowl goes virtual
Like so many 2020 events, the NFL’s Pro Bowl was canceled. The league made that announcement back in October. But where there is a sponsorship opportunity, there is a way...and now the league says it will hold the annual all-star game virtually via Electronic Arts’ “Madden NFL 21” video game. Fan voting for the teams began this week, with Verizon as a sponsor. Then, instead of the usual post-season game—originally slated for Las Vegas—the NFL will “create a week-long series of matchups featuring celebrities, NFL Legends, current players, and streamers playing as the official Pro Bowl rosters in Madden NFL 21,” according to a press release.
Nov. 12, 2020
2:30 PM EST
The Weeknd will headline Super Bowl halftime show
With coronavirus cases spiking nationally, plenty of uncertainty remains about how many fans will be allowed to attend the Super Bowl on Feb. 7 in Tampa Bay. But we now know at least one person who will be there— The Weeknd. The league and PepsiCo today confirmed that the artist will be the featured act at the Pepsi-sponsored halftime show. The deal was brokered by Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, which the NFL hired last year to enhance its in-game experiences, including curating Super Bowl talent.
The show will be produced by DPS with Roc Nation and Jesse Collins serving as executive producers, and Hamish Hamilton serving as director. No other production details were announced, including how the league might handle the show if a limited number of fans are in the stadium, which could affect the atmosphere. Todd Kaplan, VP of Marketing for Pepsi in a statement said: “After a year that’s largely been void of live music, we can’t wait to watch The Weeknd transform the world’s biggest stage with his limitless talent and creativity, delivering what will most certainly be an unforgettable performance that will be remembered for years to come.”
10:20 AM EDT
McDonald’s and DoorDash team up on ‘50 Burger’ giveaway
McDonald’s and DoorDash are giving NFL viewers the chance to win a year’s worth of McDelivery cheeseburgers if one team scores 50 points in a single game, a feat some call a 50 Burger. If a team scores 50 points in a game played between Nov. 12 and 23, the first 50 fans who tweet the final score to @McDonalds and @DoorDash with #McDelivery and #Sweepstakes win $720, which is the amount needed to buy a year’s worth of McDelivery Cheeseburger delivery orders.
The non-NFL-sanctioned sweepstakes has plenty of rules, such as not naming the teams in the tweets. And if the feat doesn’t happen by Nov. 23, comedian Trey Kennedy is set to tweet about a second chance sweepstakes on Nov. 24.
-- Jessica Wohl
9:30 AM EDT
P&G rolls new wave of NFL stars into ads
Procter & Gamble Co. is adding to its roster of NFL players backing rollouts of two new laundry products. The third and final spot of a campaign for Tide Hygienic Clean laundry detergent from multi-brand shop Woven features Ravens’ running back Mark Ingram in a parking garage getting Quinnen Williams’ fully sanitized jersey to complete a swap remotely via a bot personified by mobile and socially distant Peyton Manning. Downy Defy Damage meanwhile has enlisted Patriots quarterback Cam Newton, whose shirt gets damage-defying treatment in the clubhouse laundry room. Both ads debuted Nov. 8. Notably Newton himself defied damage from a brutal hit during the Patriots game with the Jets the next day, rallying his team to a come-from-behind victory.
-- Jack Neff
Nov. 10, 2020
3:58 PM EDT
Super Bowl ad confirmation pace is on track with last year—but will it stay that way?
Three marketers have already confirmed Super Bowl ad appearances, with WeatherTech announcing its plans this week. Mars Wrigley is also coming back, as is Anhesuer-Busch InBev, which is not a surprise considering both companies are longtime Super Bowl advertisers. So as we sit here on Nov. 10, the pace of ad confirmations is exactly where it was a year ago—when Avocados from Mexico, WeatherTech and Kia had confirmed ad buys. But with the pandemic forcing brands into more uncertain planning cycles, we’ll be watching how many companies pull the trigger between now and the rest of the year—or if more marketers will be taking a wait-and-see approach. (Avocados has already said they are not coming back.) Last year, 13 marketers had confirmed their Super Bowl ad plans by the end of December, according to Ad Age archives—so the next month and a half will be telling.
Nov. 5, 2020
2:30 PM ET
Avocados From Mexico has football-focused in-store plans for the “Big Game”
Avocados From Mexico, which is skipping a Super Bowl commercial in 2021, is turning up its shopper marketing for the biggest avocado consumption day of the year. The marketer is reaching out to retailers about a football-focused marketing push tied to “Big Game.” The avocado marketer will send stores free “Make The Big Game Your Bowl Game” displays including in-store signage featuring Troy Aikman and Erin Andrews. A QR code on the displays gives shoppers the chance to enter a sweepstakes with prizes including $1 million, receive an autographed digital photo and personalized messages from Aikman and Andrews, and access brand content such as guacamole recipes.
The marketer is not an official NFL sponsor, so it is relying on the “Big Game” phrase, even calling Aikman, the former Dallas Cowboys QB, a three-time “Big Game Champion” in its press materials.
“Few things go together better than football and guacamole, and I can’t wait to join my fellow fans in AFM’s virtual Guac Bowl Stadium ahead of the Big Game,” Aikman said in a statement.
Avocados From Mexico ran commercials in the last six Super Bowls.
Oct. 28, 2020
1:23 PM EDT
Subway offers a Belichick ‘Magic 8 Bill’
NFL sponsor Subway and New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick, who has promoted the chain this season, now have a toy for their biggest fans. Mattel helped on a special version of its Magic 8 Ball — the Magic 8 Bill. The Belichick version features responses such as “I’ll decide on game day” and “Yeah, I don’t think so” Fans with $21 to spend can buy one 500 of the toys at magic8bill.subway.com/.
Oct. 27, 2020
3:13 PM EDT
Derrick Henry runs to glory as newest Old Spice guy
Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry is notoriously hard to bring down, making his endless run in a Maddenesque treatment from Wieden+Kennedy for Old Spice fairly believable. The newest Old Spice guy goes from SoFi Stadium, through the tunnel, across a Los Angeles sidewalk, through a playground, airport baggage claim and to a gym treadmill dragging an unidentified Rams defender along with him. The “Smell Ready for Anything” ad, which launches today on YouTube and makes its way to Thursday Night Football on Nov. 11, makes the case that Henry’s prodigious yards after contact are akin to the staying power of Triple Protection Old Spice Sweat Defense.
1:45 PM EDT
Tide revives the jersey swap for the COVID era
The traditional post-game jersey swap among NFL players has become a COVID casualty, but Procter & Gamble’s Tide is looking to bring it back safely with “clean jersey swaps” using its newest product, Tide Hygienic Clean. More than 300 NFL players have signed up to do the swap, and the brand worked with ESPN to produce a six-minute segment about the program that aired on “Sunday NFL Countdown.”
In a 30-second ad from Woven that ran Oct. 25 on NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” from the multi-agency shop for Tide, Peyton Manning stars as Tide’s “Swap Bot” automating the clean jersey transfer. Future installments of the campaign will feature Quinnen Williams of the New York Jets on Nov. 1 and Mark Ingram of the Baltimore Ravens on Nov. 8. Tide is also giving away game-worn jerseys to select fans who enter the #JerseySwap sweepstakes on Twitter for the remainder of the season.
Oct. 25, 2020
5:00 PM EDT
'South Park' returns to Denver
“South Park” characters appeared in the stands during the showdown between the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs this weekend in the form of cardboard cutouts. With the NFL banning or limiting the number of people able to attend games in person, many teams have replaced fans with some creative alternatives. The “South Park” cutouts first appeared at the Sept. 27 game at Denver’s Empower Field.
Oct. 22, 2020
4:41 PM EDT
Data firm calculates the political leanings of every NFL team’s fan base
In an age when everything is politicized, why not color NFL teams blue and red? That is what marketing data firm StatSocial has done with an analysis of the political leanings of the fan bases of every team. The results, recently tweeted out by Sports Business Journal’s Ben Fischer, show the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks as the teams that most appeal to Democrats with the Tennessee Titans and Dallas Cowboys counting the most Republicans as fans. Not surprisingly, a bunch of teams in swing states occupy the middle.
Oct. 19, 2020
1:48 PM EDT
Avocados From Mexico is skipping the 2021 Super Bowl
Avocados From Mexico plans to sit out the Super Bowl in 2021 after a six-year run in the Big Game with commercials featuring humor and celebrities.
The company's decision to skip the ad industry’s biggest day marks the first confirmation from a prior Super Bowl advertiser that it doesn't plan to buy ad time in the Super Bowl scheduled for Feb. 7, 2021. CEO Alvaro Luque, announced to the decision in an interview with The Packer, a produce trade publication, earlier this month.
“We’re using this year as a year to reinvent ourselves and do some things differently before we come back in 2022 to the Super Bowl again,” Luque said in a video interview with that publication.
The company later clarified Luque's comments in a statement to Ad Age, which said it has not yet confirmed whether it will participate in the Super Bowl in 2022.
Avocados From Mexico ran commercials in the Super Bowl from 2015 through 2020.
Oct. 14, 2020
11:04 AM EDT
Wonderful Pistachios features retired NFL tight end Tony Gonzalez
Pistachios new “The Next Big Thing” campaign, introduced today, will get air time this fall including during football games as the brand aims to remind people while they snack and watch sports that its pistachios are source of plant-based protein.
The ads suggest that getting protein from plants isn’t as strange as things people have done in sports in the past, such as playing football without mouthguards in the 1940s, a scene that’s reenacted in the first spot (below). Another spot will highlight when football goalposts were in front of the endzone, a setup that ended in the 1970s.
The campaign isn’t solely focused on football. It also features weightlifter Kendrick Farris who, like Gonzalez, follows a plant-focused diet.
The campaign, which comes from the company’s internal agency The Wonderful Agency, is set to air on TV throughout football season, along with digital, social, print, in-store and other assets. Wonderful Pistachios does not have a relationship with the NFL, but has run spots during a few Super Bowls, most recently in 2017.
Oct. 8, 2020
11:47 AM EDT
Domino’s is 'most certainly' glad to see sports return, even as NFL ratings dip
Pizza Hut, as the official pizza of the NFL, is mentioning football in some marketing this season, hoping to drive orders from fans watching at home. Domino’s Pizza, the market leader, is also happy that sporting events including NFL games are on air. “Most certainly we are glad to see televised sports back,” Domino’s CEO Ritch Allison responded today during a quarterly conference call after an analyst asked about the impact of the NFL airing games. Allison, who avoided any mention of the NFL itself, said games being on TV creates occasions for people to gather and, of course, to order shareable food like pizza and wings. He didn’t discuss that even though the NFL is back, its ratings so far this season are down about 10% from a year ago, according to Sports Business Journal. (Trouble could be looming for the league with the Tennessee Titans dealing with a COVID outbreak.)
Allison declined to quantify the boost his chain is seeing during sporting events but said having sports on air is “favorable” versus a lack of sports.
-- Jessica Wohl
Oct. 5, 2020
12:30 PM EDT
CBS gets rare Monday night game
Viewers tuning into CBS expecting the debut of the network’s “One Day at Time” reboot, will see Patrick Mahomes instead. The NFL rescheduled the New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs game from Sunday to tonight after Pats QB Cam Newton tested positive for COVID. CBS had rights to the game, necessitating the program shift. It's doubtful advertisers will complain, knowing that the NFL far outdraws scripted TV shows. Deadline has more here. The game starts at 7 p.m. ET.
ESPN will still air its regularly scheduled “Monday Night Football” broadcast, starting at 8:50 p.m. This is the first time CBS has aired a game on Monday night since 2014, when a Sunday game involving the Buffalo Bills was delayed because of a blizzard, according to Boston.com.
Sept. 11, 2020
1:49 PM EDT
In July, Doritos asked fans to create and submit videos for a chance to have their passion for the brand appear in a commercial. The compilation spot featuring the 15 winners of the “Crash From Home” contest is the first Doritos spot to be made since the pandemic began, and is set to debut during the NFL Sunday kickoff game on CBS on Sept. 13. Each of the winners gets $10,000, along with the bragging rights. The effort is a pandemic-driven update of Doritos’ “Crash the Super Bowl” campaign, which ran for a decade and ended with Super Bowl 50 in 2016.
Sept. 10, 2020
2:10 PM EDT
Ad prices soar for season opener
NBC says it fetched nearly $900,000 on average for 30-second ads for tonight’s season opener between the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans. The network says ad time is sold out and revenue is up double digits compared with last year. If NBC can keep the 30-second ad price at that level for the remainder of its “Sunday Night Football” schedule, it would surpass last season’s already impressive haul. According to Ad Age’s 2019 TV ad price chart, advertisers paid $685,227 on average for a 30-second commercial in Sunday night’s weekly matchup, which was the most expensive buy on TV.
Advertisers include Hyundai, which returns for its third season as sponsor of the pre-game show. The automaker plans to run a three-part content series called “Tailback Tailgate” that features “two former running back greats together in a conversation around the game, with a little hometown flavor sprinkled in,” according to a press release. Hyundai did not identify the players, who will appear in the back of a Palisade.
“Sunday Night Football is one of our signature sponsorships in generating brand awareness among the 20 million viewers each week,” Angela Zepeda, chief marketing officer at Hyundai Motor America, stated.
Other brands debuting ads in tonight’s game include Frito-Lay, Walmart and Gillette (read on for what those brands are up to.)
11:15 AM EDT
Walmart will put fans in NFL stands in Walmart+ promotion
In researching the “Different Kind of Membership” campaign behind its launch of Amazon Prime rival Walmart+, the retailer asked customers what they miss most from pre-COVID days. Not surprisingly, attending live sports was one thing.
So as a promotion behind the campaign, Walmart is going to “plus up” some of its customers’ most missed moments to make them bigger and better than before, says William White, chief marketing officer of Walmart U.S., in a blog post. The first of those “Plus Me Up” experiences will be showcased on NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” as Walmart surprises an essential healthcare worker and family with the chance to be the only fans in the stadium during an NFL game this season.
Walmart is kicking off marketing for its Walmart+ rollout with an ad from new shop Deutsch, Los Angeles, in tonight's season opener.
10:19 AM EDT
Gillette launches spot with Saquon Barkley and follows its rookies
Gillette has enlisted New York Giants standout running back Saquon Barkley for a new spot in its “Every Day Is Game Day” campaign to kick off its NFL regular season marketing push. The ad from WPP’s Grey focuses on what people can achieve by treating every day like game day and will run as a “double box” buy during in-game coverage on tonight's season opener and continue running throughout the season, a spokeswoman says.
Gillette began its 2020 campaign really with the virtual draft in April, where it introduced four rookies it signed beforehand – Tua Tagovailoa, Jalen Hurts, Cole Kmet and Ashtyn Davis. The brand will continue to follow their stories during their first year as NFL players. Tagovailoa, the Alabama alum and first-round pick who’s for now a backup Miami Dolphins quarterback, also stars in a new digital spot inspired by a story his grandfather used to tell him about preparation and motivation. His father, Galu, provides the voiceover for the film, which continues Gillette’s tradition of highlighting the father-son connection.
Sept. 9, 2020
3:13 PM EDT
Snickers has new bling to reward the hungriest NFL players
NFL sponsor Snickers is back with a new version of a jewelry chain it will share with “hungry” players. Much like last year’s promotion, the one-of-a-kind chain will be passed each week to a player who did exceptionally well. Retired NFL safety Ed Reed is set to award the chain to the hungriest player after the first week of the season. The longtime Ravens player unveiled the chain on Instagram last week.
Snickers once again worked with Ben Baller on its chain, which includes more than 31 carats of 2,374 brilliant-cut diamonds, blue sapphires and red rubies that spell out the word “hungry” below an “S” like the one from the Snickers logo. (Last year’s chain featured the “S” in the Snickers logo.)
At the end of the season, fans will help pick the ‘Hungriest Player of the Year,’ and proceeds from the sale of the chain will be donated to benefit nurses and other frontline workers fighting COVID-19, Snickers announced.
1:00 PM EDT
Postmates is the NFL’s first official on-demand food delivery partner
Sports leagues are always looking to carve out new sponsorship categories and they’ve found one with the burgeoning food delivery biz. Postmates today announced a multi-year deal as the NFL’s first official on-demand food delivery partner and a sponsor of events including the Super Bowl, Pro Bowl and NFL Draft. It follows a similar deal the National Basketball Association struck with DoorDash. Postmates is capitalizing on the idea that plenty of football fans will be ordering in to dine at home while they watch NFL games this season, especially with stadiums closed to fans or at limited capacity due to the coronavirus pandemic. Postmates has plans for unique promotions, integrations and content that will be introduced during the season “to celebrate both food and football,” the company stated.
The deal will be promoted by star quarterbacks from the two teams playing in the league’s Sept. 10 season debut. Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes’ foundation 15 and the Mahomies is set to deliver meals to frontline healthcare workers at the Ben Taub Hospital in Houston while Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson will deliver meals to frontline workers at Truman Medical Center Hospital Hill in Kansas City, Postmates announced.
It’s the latest in a series of brand deals for Mahomes, this year’s Super Bowl MVP. He also stars in a new Oakley campaign. (Read more about Oakley, the NFL’s official helmet visor provider, below.) For Postmates, the NFL agreement is its latest in the sports world, following deals with the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees.
12:44 PM EDT
ESPN sidelines Hank Williams Jr.
When football stadiums are empty, the song “All My Rowdy Friends Are Here on Monday Night,” just does not resonate. ESPN is acknowledging this by scrapping the usual Hank Williams Jr. opener for “Monday Night Football” in favor of Little Richard’s “Rip It Up.” Sports Business Daily, which broke the news, reminds us that the song was scrapped once before, but for much different circumstances—it went on hiatus in 2011 after the country singer made disparaging remarks about President Obama. ESPN brought it back in 2017.
12:30 PM EDT
Babe Wine markets gameday smells
“While we can’t physically witness hot sweaty football daddies play in-person, we can still smell them.” That is the pitch for a new “Jockstrap” candle that smells like male deodorant as part of a lineup from Babe Wine and customized accessory marketer Ryan Porter. Other scents include “$18 Nachos,” which smells like nacho cheese; and “Hashtag field goals, which carries a freshly cut grass odor. They are sold individually for $29, or in a bundle of three for $69, on drinkbabe.net
Sept. 8, 2020
4:41 PM EDT
Mahomes pitches for Oakley
Patrick Mahomes gets a starring role in Oakley’s NFL campaign, called “We Shape the Future,” which also includes Lamar Jackson, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Derwin James Jr., Aaron Jones and Trevon Diggs. The brand inked a deal last year to become the league’s official helmet visor provider. Its role took on new relevance this year as it developed face shield technology meant to combat coronavirus spread. Some teams are experimenting with it, but it has not been universally accepted. Buffalo Bills players, for instance, took issue with them, due to concerns about heat and visibility, according to the Buffalo News.
Oakley’s new ad (below) shows players wearing helmet visors and sunglasses.
12:30 PM EDT
Progressive sticks with Baker Mayfield and tries something new
Progressive is capitalizing on the start of the NFL season with two new campaigns. One continues its “At Home with Baker Mayfield,” which finds the confused quarterback again living at the stadium as his home. The series taps into the home improvement trends of many consumers, who are spending more time at home because of coronavirus lockdowns. The insurer also introduced a new series “Sticking Together with Mark & Marcus,” which stars two men holding yard markers who live together and even share shampoo. “Progressive. Protecting every single yard of your home,” a voiceover says at the end of one of the new spots.
10:30 AM EDT
Bud Light and Twitter team up on ‘Showtime Cam’
Anheuser-Busch InBev—which brought virtual fans to the National Basketball Association games—is going for a similar effect with the NFL with some help from Twitter, although not quite as elaborate as what was erected in Orlando. The “Bud Light Showtime Cam” will feature two-way screens at field level, virtually recreating players interacting with fans after touchdowns, for instance. The players will be able to see themselves on the screens with eight fans selected to also appear. Fans are selected via a sweepstakes that is run on Twitter. Tweets will also be shown on the screens. For now, the screens, which will carry Bud Light branding, will appear at an unspecified number of select games.
9:30 AM EDT
Subway nabs Bill Belichick to kick off ‘Footlong Season’
Subway, in its first season as the official sandwich sponsor of the NFL, is showcasing one of the sport’s most famous coaches: Bill Belichick. A new spot shows the longtime New England Patriots head coach in a short-sleeved hoodie as he’s approached by a guy in a suit carrying what Subway suggests is a lame fried chicken meal. Belichick seemingly convinces him—all through a stare and uttering the word “really”—that Subway is a better choice. Deion Sanders, as well as J.J., T.J. and Derek Watt, are also set to appear in the campaign throughout the upcoming season.
Subway is once again using its “Eat Fresh” tagline and has dubbed football season as “Footlong Season” in its bid to promote a new “buy two, get one free” offer on its larger sandwiches. Dentsumcgarrybowen worked on the spot, while Carat is helping Subway with media plans that include on-air and cross-channel integrations with the NFL’s broadcast partners.