Pigskin, nachos, beer and ... cupcake decorating? With a newly launched site, Party Collection and expanded women's fashion line, the NFL is hoping to make "homegating" as popular as tailgating and team-name purses as widespread as jerseys.
The NFL's 79 million female fans make up 44% of its fan base, according to NFL VP-Consumer Products Tracey Bleczinski, and the organization wanted to create a community for these women.
"The idea was to turn your home into NFL headquarters," said Johanna Paretzky, licensing manager for the NFL, who directs the homegating initiative. Women who watch football "are sometimes more passionate about the food, family and planning" aspect of the game and so the league has partnered with licensees to create a collection of party products for these "homegating" events.
The party collection, branded with NFL team logos of choice, runs the gamut from cheese boards to coasters to side tables, with licensees including Boelter, Picnic Time , The Northwest Co., Tervis, Imperial, and even Mars, which has created team-branded M&Ms. For those who prefer to use their oven as a storage area, Decopac has created ready-to-buy team cupcakes sold in supermarket bakeries, and there's even an option to order pre-made party packs online.
On nfl.com/gamedayparty, expert "homegater" Tami Beitz, a professional cake designer for Cakes.com, doles out weekly party planning tips and recipes. The website is currently hosting a recipe contest through Oct. 24 and the winner will receive a 52" flat-screen HDTV, an mp3 docking station and $1,000 to spend at NFLShop.com. Other prizes will also be awarded for people who vote for their favorite recipes throughout the season.
In addition to the new GameDayParty site, the NFL has expanded its women's fashion line to include denim skirts, rain and winter boots from Cuce Shoes, hair clips, jewelry, team nail polishes-and high-end bags from Anastasia Moda that run up to $2,995 for a jeweled clutch.
About 10 years ago, the NFL decided to apply a "pink it and shrink it" strategy to its women's clothing, said Joanna Hunter, manager-corporate communications for the NFL, but in the past five years, the offerings have become more "sophisticated" than just smaller, sparklier versions of menswear. Subsequently, the women's business "has grown by a factor of 21 since 2001," said Ms. Hunter, with the women's clothing business up 40% just this month -- an extraordinary figure not just attributed to the start of football season, she said, but due to marketing and demand.
This marks the second year of the NFL's TV and print campaign for its women's fashion, but the message has evolved from last year's "Fit For You" to a focus on team rivalries, featuring wives and daughters of NFL owners, execs and coaches. Geographic rivals such as Suzanne Johnson (wife of New York Jets owner Woody Johnson) and Gwen Reese (wife of New York Giants General Manager Jerry Reese) have been paired in ads from Grey , New York, appearing in magazines including InStyle, Lucky, People and Sports Illustrated, as have championship rivals, division rivals and even sibling rivals. Meanwhile, the new nfl.com/women site, produced by Ignited, features looks from two team rivalries that change weekly. Grey 's marketing and PR division, Alliance, handles promotional elements.
So can the NFL actually make football fashionable? At a homegating press event this week in New York, several attendees fawned over the furry boots, bags and team nail polishes on display, and Ms. Bleczinski said she expects sales figures, which blew expectations last year, to double this year, though she wouldn't give a figure. She did add, though, that the "women of the NFL" at the party were already throwing around ideas for new products, from cosmetics to gloves to fragrance. So what can we expect the fragrances to smell like? "Not sweat," she said.