Pigskin on the fly

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The national football League's latest promotion for its "NFL Sunday Ticket" TV package does more than offer sports fans the ability to watch multiple games each week via satellite. It gives them the chance to get off the couch and travel to seven Sunday football games during the upcoming season.

"This year is definitely a departure from what we've done in the past," Philip Summers, senior director-marketing and sales at the NFL, said of the multimillion-dollar campaign that broke last week with 450,000 mail pieces sent to satellite TV subscribers who don't currently get "NFL Sunday Ticket."

Margeotes/Fertitta & Partners, New York, has handled the "NFL Sunday Ticket" account since the program was introduced in 1994, and has gradually changed the emphasis of its efforts to direct marketing from brand building as it seeks to attract new subscribers and football viewers who aren't necessarily hard-core fans.

"Each and every year we try to outdo ourselves in what we do for them," said Account Director Jon Shrair.


The direct mail pieces for the "Touchdown Tour Sweepstakes" used an airline ticket theme and arrived in a blue folder with a fake airline ticket promoting the sweepstakes and the $149 service. An instant win, Scratch-N-Score card was enclosed along with a season schedule and letter about the service.

Another planned mailing will go to current subscribers of "NFL Sunday Ticket." That mailing will include discount offers.

The mailings are being supported with print ads in satellite guides and a 30-second commercial on "ESPNews" and CNNSI through September.

The direct marketing campaign also is being backed online at nflsundayticket.com, where people can participate in the sweepstakes by using the Internet version of the Scratch-N-Score game.

The promotion won't end after the total of three winners from the U.S. and Canada are selected in September. An NFL film crew will follow the winners to each game and air clips of the event during the "NFL Sunday Ticket" show before each week's games.

Mr. Summers, who expects "Sunday Ticket" subscriptions to increase by more than 200,000 this year and top 1 million, hopes the sweepstakes will draw attention to the NFL service as it faces increased competition from other sports leagues in the direct-to-home business.

"The idea behind this year's promotional campaign was to try to give people an additional reason to get involved with the NFL," Mr. Shrair said. "We tried to tie the promotion into what the ultimate promise of the service is: allowing the individual to choose the games he wants to see."

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