NFL's got the right stuff for advertisers

Spending by the NFL's top advertisers reached a record $1.1 billion this year.

ByABC News
September 24, 2007, 10:35 PM

NEW YORK -- The National Football League has had its share of problems so far this season, but promotional spending by its key sponsors is not one of them.

The NFL's 21 major marketing sponsors will pour a record $1.1 billion into NFL-themed promotions, a 10% boost over last year.

"Every year you think the league can't any bigger and any more pervasive, and it does," says sports marketing expert Terry Lefton, an editor with the SportsBusiness Daily.

The boost in promotional spending comes despite a decline in TV ratings vs. last year (10% in Week 1, 8% in Week 2).

The league also has taken an image hit from scandals involving Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick's charges related to dog fighting and questions about the New England Patriots breaking rules on videotaping opponents' signals. And Lisa Baird, the marketing vice president responsible for the new logo and successful consumer-generated ad contest last season, said last week she'll be leaving in December.

Marketers, however, remain big fans of the NFL and its large audience. While overall ratings were off a bit, viewership of regular-season games in prime time averaged 16 million 66% more than the average for all prime-time shows on the Big 4 broadcast networks.

Research by the SportsBusiness Daily found the league has not been hurt by the scandals, Lefton says. "Whenever we try to relate special issues back to any consumer backlash, we don't see anything."

"The NFL helps us grow our (retail) business," says Ralph Santana, vice president, sports, media and entertainment, Pepsi-Cola North America. "Store managers connect with the sport and want to build displays around it. They love the teams and the glitz and glamour."

More NFL promotion in recent years for the NFL draft, training camps, preseason games and the Pro Bowl also has stretched marketer tie-in opportunities.