Since 2018, Dr Pepper has marked the beginning of the college football season by rolling out its “Fansville” campaign, a parody of episodic TV dramas that depicts a fictional pigskin-obsessed town. But this year there is a real-life college star in the national ads—Clemson quarterback DJ Uiagalelei.
His inclusion is made possible by new regulations approved earlier this year that allow university athletes to profit off their name, image, and likeness for the first time. Some brands immediately pounced on the opportunity when the rules were loosened in July. But the arrival of the college football season, which kicks into full gear this weekend, provides a better view of how marketers will deploy their new endorsers, including during nationally televised games that draw large audiences.
United Airlines is among the big brands capitalizing on the new rule in time for the season. The airline last month rolled out sponsorships with University of Southern California quarterback Kedon Slovis, Louisiana State University cornerback Derek Stingley Jr., and University of Oregon defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux to promote 74 direct flights between college towns.
"The NIL ruling was incredibly timely," says Maggie Schmerin, United Airlines' managing director of advertising and social media. "We see this partnership as a great way to supplement our own marketing and our own communication efforts by being able to hyper-target those specific fan bases."
Other brands rolling out new programs as football arrives include Beats by Dre, which on Wednesday announced it had inked Jackson State University quarterback Shedeur Sanders to a deal the brand says will include efforts to advance historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Denny’s on Thursday revealed its All-Pancaker Team sponsorship and marketing campaign with four football players: Jalen McKenzie of University of Southern California, Mark Evans II with University of Arkansas Pine Bluff (an HBCU), Nicholas Petit-Frere of Ohio State University and Tristan Leigh of Clemson.
The campaign from Anomaly includes various social content posts.