Are you ready for some football? Tonight the NFL draft begins, on ESPN, seasonally ushering in the source of America's most popular TV programming — and one of its biggest branding vehicles —back into the cultural discourse.
As we noted earlier, Nike is running with its "Fast is Faster" campaign touting its new NFL uniforms during the 2012 draft. PepsiCo's Quaker Oats brand also kicked off its new status as the "Official Hot Cereal Sponsor" of the NFL yesterday with a Play 60 Youth Football Festival that starred Andrew Luck, the fortuitously-named Stanford University quarterback who is the presumptive No. 1 choice in tonight's draft.
And Google, not missing a chance to promote its social networking platform, is inviting fans to join the top two draft picks (Luck and Robert Griffin III) virtually via Google+ hangouts.
No surprise that last season, live NFL games by far constituted most of the best-rated shows on U.S. television, culminating, as ever, with the Super Bowl in early February. That has the league and brand marketers looking for new ways to exploit America's real pastime once the games kick off this fall.
Procter & Gamble's Tide, for example, will become the "Official Laundry Detergent of the NFL" in a multi-year deal starting this season that includes separate sponsorship of each of the 32 NFL teams. PepsiCo's Gatorade is the only other brand ever to have signed individual deals with each NFL team, Marketing Daily reports. Tide gets to use NFL branding across its portfolio and logos and specific marketing with each individual team.
And NBC is trying to take advantage by charging nearly one million dollars apiece for 30-second spots during the game on Thanksgiving night between the New York Jets and New England Patriots, according to Ad Age. Previously, the game on that holiday evening was only available on cable's NFL Network, but it was added to NBC's schedule this year as part of a new contract with the NFL. That price would be close to double the record rate from last season for a prime-time, non-playoff game.
All of this simply echoes the result of a new survey by YouGov BrandIndex which shows the NFL as being the highest of the major sports leagues in consumer attention, even during the off-season. Much of that focus has been negative because of the New Orleans Saints' bounty scandal.
But now that fans start sniffing the beginning of preparations for the new season, expect perceptions of the NFL to rebound steadily.