Stadium Publishing

NFL Draft’s Marketing Winners

Earlier this week we discussed how the NFL wedged its way into the year-round sports conversation.

A large part of NFL conversation orbits around the NFL Draft and the annual selection of players offers marketing opportunities for a wide range of beneficiaries. No other sports league can ratchet up opportunities of this magnitude.

While baseball certainly upgraded its draft conversation, but much of its process remains confusing and, in my opinion, actually makes player acquisition needlessly expensive (perhaps a post for June).

The NBA can match the NFL in terms of marketing prowess and power, but its draft is primarily a one-round, one-player affair.

And the NHL delivers cache in Canada but is largely ignored by mainstream media in the United States and elsewhere.

Here’s a look at the big marketing winners during Thursday night’s First Round:

City of Chicago: Hosting their first NFL Draft in 50 years, Chicago enjoyed massive benefits through tourism dollars – hotels, dining, etc. But the city put on quite a show with the number of fans who turned up at “Draft Town” as well as how it customized its skyline for TV.

Chicago demonstrated on Thursday night that the Draft doesn’t have to always be in New York.

The NFL: Obviously football benefits the most from this.

By moving the event from New York to Chicago, the NFL now has a package they can move from city to city. Creating leverage with municipalities as they drive all sorts of earned media for their markets and owners.

The Draft Town experience provides fans with a touch-and-feel experience.

Other bennies for the NFL? An internal brand second-only to the Super Bowl in stature. It offers large sponsorship and marketing opportunities as well as the ability to market the next generation of stars.

On a grass roots level, the NFL can showcase how the sport created positive impact in players’ lives. Concussion awareness and overall injury concerns have parents taking a more critical view of youth football participation. 

It’s a mid-year Christmas! Each year the NFL markets a new set of “Draft Caps” as well as an opportunity to display uniform alterations. It’s a hot market opportunity for every single team. New Era and Nike enjoy potential sales boosts as a result along with NFLShop.com. That’s win-win-win-win scenario for everyone concerned.

And if the NFL doesn’t have enough marketable assets, Bud Light will sponsor Friday’s Second Round. Dividing the Draft over a three-day period is nothing short of brilliant from a sponsorship, broadcast and conversational point of view.

Local Teams: Teams use the Draft for a myriad of gains.

The Seattle Seahawks didn’t own a first round pick, but they still used the Draft – and newly-acquired Jimmy Graham – to sell their customized Draft logo (with sponsorship).

Every single NFL team throws a Draft Party. It’s a great way to attract and reward season ticket holders, sell tickets and sponsorships. Fans often get access to stadiums or other facilities they wouldn’t ordinarily get to visit. And, like the league overall, hot market opportunities exist for hats and jerseys. How else will the Cleveland Browns move their less-than-attractive new jerseys?

And finally…there are the sponsors.

Beats by Dre, an organization strategically focused on athlete product placement, did a great job of using the Draft to get their headphones out in front of the public (this embedded Tweet evidence of how it works)…

EA Sports created an app allowing fans to experience newly selected players in their Madden product. For EA, the addition of new players is a key selling point for a video game that may not offer a great deal of differential in game play or bells and whistles on a year to year basis. The ability to showcase new players and roster/uniform updates helps move product.

So yeah, it’s the NFL. It’s a business with an amazing amount of opportunities and riches.

How can your business use elements such as these for marketing, sales and media value?

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