Small City, Big Brand: Packers Shine for NFL


They play in the smallest market in professional sports, a town of about 100,000 people, and they’re technically a not-for-profit enterprise that is actually owned by the local American Legion post – not by some egomaniacal entrepreneur.

Their colors are a combination of hunter green and mellow yellow that remains anathema to fashionistas. The last time they won the Super Bowl was 1997. And they’re the team that gave Brett Favre his walking papers — the first time. 

But make no mistake about it: The powers that be in the National Football League, and the many brands that advertise during its games, are happy as can be that the Green Bay Packers are one of the four teams remaining this weekend with a chance to make it to Super Bowl XLV.[more]

That’s partly because the Packers’ tradition of success continues to play well with NFL fans across the country, not just in Wisconsin. YouTube’s trend-watchers call the Packers the NFL team with “the most robust fan anthem scene.”

Some marketing experts rank the Packers with only the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Cowboys as a professional-sports franchise with the most distinct brand images.

While the Packers haven’t won the big one lately, nevertheless they’ve been one of the winningest teams of last 20 years. Their ancient but recently expanded and updated Lambeau Field remains one of the most hallowed venues in American sports. And with stars such as quarterback Aaron Rodgers (who just survived a blogosphere flogging) and linebacker Clay Matthews, the Packers are responsible for selling more than their share of jerseys and other official NFL merchandise.

There’s also the renascent Vince Lombardi factor. The old Packers coach – whose name adorns the Super Bowl trophy – is making a comeback, with a Broadway play and an HBO special that premiered last month, and a feature film in the works (starring Robert DeNiro as Lombardi) that is slated to debut around the time of the 2012 Super Bowl.

So no matter how the Packers perform on the field this weekend in their divisional championship game against the Chicago Bears, the gateway to the Super Bowl, the “Green and Gold” will have done their job for the league.