Sprint teams with NFL for Monday night blitz

By Published on .

Sprint Corp., the National Football League's $30 million-a-year telecommunications sponsor, kicks off an ad blitz tonight on ABC's "NFL Monday Night Football" that supports a larger marketing program for personal communications services and long-distance products.


The "Monday Nights Free & Clear" campaign represents a refinement of last year's NFL activities, which saw each Sprint division utilize the NFL in different ways. This year, the program is a single promotional concept applied to two of its more high-profile products.

The ad push was created by Hal Riney & Partners/Heartland, Chicago, with creative and production assistance from NFL Films. Of four spots, three are NFL-related.

An umbrella commercial promotes both long distance and PCS--digital and wireless communications--while a spot starring NFL MVP Brett Favre promotes PCS and another--featuring Marcus Allen--touts long distance.

Each of the humorous spots shows Sprint products being used during a football game.


The bulk of the media buy for these three spots is with ABC--and most of that with "NFL Monday Night Football." Spending wasn't disclosed.

A fourth spot, created by J. Walter Thompson USA, San Francisco, features long-standing Sprint spokeswoman Candice Bergen. It will air on other broadcast networks, including during NBC's Thursday night lineup.

The campaign will run through October.


The promotion offers new PCS and long-distance customers free service on Monday nights throughout the NFL season. The promotion will be supported at Radio Shack stores and with print ads in the NFL's GameDay magazine.

Sprint caused a stir last year when it became the NFL's biggest sponsor. But some in the sports-marketing industry thought Sprint didn't live up to the hype--with diverse, unconnected programs that failed to link Sprint inextricably to the NFL.

"We're going into our second year with a lot of learning from the first year. Having a common theme for both long distance and PCS is one of those lessons," said a Sprint spokesman.

Refinement also is the name of the game for Coca-Cola Co., entering the final year of its five-year, $250 million NFL sponsorship.


Coca-Cola will launch TV advertising to support the second iteration of its "Coca-Cola/NFL Red Zone" promotion next month. TV spots launching later this month from Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., feature famed tailgater Joe Cahn, putting a more human face on the promotion.

The promotion kicked off Aug. 29.

Mr. Cahn, the so-called "tailgating king" who travels to every NFL city to catch a game every season, serves as spokesman in at least one of two TV spots supporting the promotion.

Coca-Cola will underwrite his travels this fall and will have Mr. Cahn participate in local market promotions.

Copyright September 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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