By Carol-Ann Rudy

Whether attending the game live at the stadium or watching on television, Pepsi, Visa, Coors, Burger King, and Campbell’s Soup are there, cheering the players and fans on and looking for even more marketing opportunities. According to Peter Murray, senior vice president of corporate marketing and sponsorship sales for the National Football League, marketing is a year-round relationship with their fans.

Despite problems with big-name players, the NFL has not been hurt, according to SportsBusiness Daily. The most visible of these problems so far this season is the Michael Vick and illegal dog fighting scandal, and the New England Patriot’s videotaping of opposing teams’ signals. There is still an estimated 10% increase in spending over last year by the twenty-one biggest marketing sponsors, for $1.1 billion.

There has been an increasing opportunity for the NFL – Sponsor partnership the past few years in the draft, at training camps, and preseason games. The fans’ response to this partnership throughout the years has spurred the NFL’s sponsors to even more investment in the league.

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Examples of marketing abound:
Pepsi’s Call Your Play promotion offers $6,000,000 in prizes. Visitors can create audio and video clips on their contest website. The new Diet Pepsi Max with ginseng and caffeine is linked with its NFL promotion this year.

Visa is featuring a new ad with New Orleans Saints fans marching from the barbershop into the game with the Saints’ logo carved into their hairstyles. Along with that television presence, Visa is running a sweepstakes called “Inside Pass” with support from 500-plus banks. Other promotions include the opportunity to win VIP tickets to playoff games, Super Bowl, and Pro Bowl. The senior vice president of Visa has expressed the opinion that the NFL provides the strongest sports tie-in for sponsors.

According to Coors’ chief marketing officer Andy England, the largest chunk of Coors’ Light marketing dollars are spent on NFL marketing. This year they are offering the Silver Ticket sweepstakes for prizes ranging from tee shirts to NFL events.

And who doesn’t know the Burger King “King?” Initially marketing to adult NFL fans, BK has expanded to offer 32 miniature player jerseys with its Kids Club meals and online games for kids.

Last, what Mom doesn’t identify with players and their moms? Campbell’s has souped up its message this season, expanding to feature eight players in their television ads. Like the other major sponsors, having an online presence doesn’t hurt either.

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