Archives For Super Bowl

For NFL Fans, the month of July signals the beginning of a new season. Football is back even though it’s nearly always on fans minds. As usual, their will be a number of great stories and surprises. Most training camps start within a week. The start of the regular season is not far away.


Last Monday, Forbes announced its 2013 list of the world’s 50 Most Valuable Sports Teams. Thirty NFL teams made the list of the top 50. The Dallas Cowboys (5), New England Patriots (6), Washington Redskins (8) and the New York Football Giants (9) made the top ten list.  Only two NFL teams the St Louis Rams (51) Jacksonville Jaguars (52) failed to make the top 50. This speaks to the power of the NFL Brand and the strength of individual team brands. The NFL is clearly the most valuable sports league in the United States.

The NFL’s success is the result of strong brand management and ongoing communication with their fan base. The NFL has made a six-month season into a 12-month business and branding effort. The draft is a key part of the strategy as it bridges the gap between one season and next. It generates a huge amount of media and fan talk value. The draft has also become a huge revenue generator. Once the draft is over media attention shifts to signing the players, filling out the rosters and mini-camps. Football talk is always in season.

The NFL Brand has its challenges. Player concussions are a serious issue. The Aaron Hernandez case and other player arrests have created negative publicity for the brand. However, the brand is skilled at overcoming short terms challenges and continues to thrive and grow in value. There are many reasons for the success of the NFL Brand. I can’t possibly highlight all of them in one post. Listed below are some the reasons why the NFL has built a strong relationship with their existing fans and expanded to attract new fans.

  • Football is extremely advertising friendly. The game has natural stops and starts, a 60 minute game lasts three hours, leaving plenty of space for television advertising.
  • The league has created a major event with “Super Bowl Sunday” that attracts the largest television audience of the year.
  • The product is limited, there are only 16 regular season games. Your favorite team plays only once a week. Whether your teams wins or loses, most fans can’t wait till next Sunday.
  • The NFL owns Thanksgiving one of our country’s most important holidays.
  • Football is an exciting experience. From watching the games with friends and family, to the NFL’s website, NFL Mobile and the Madden NFL Games, the brand creates an interactive experience.
  • The NFL creates memories that span generations. NFL Films allows fans to re-live past games. Giants fans love to re-live our Four Super Bowl Championships. We never tire of watching David Tyree’s catch in Super Bowl 42.
  • Fan’s love the game, not just their team. Fantasy Football and fast paced highlight shows have helped make the games fun to watch even if your team is struggling.
  • In recent years, the league has seen women grow to become over 44 percent of its fan base, with 60 percent of females over the age of 12 identifying themselves as NFL fans.

I have witnessed the NFL pass Major League Baseball as the most popular sport in the country. In many ways, it has displaced baseball as the sport American’s love. The NFL has a brand that means something deep to many football fans, whether they realize it or not.

Are you excited for football season to start? Who is your favorite team?


Oreo is a great example of an iconic brand that has evolved and kept up with the times. The “Oreo Biscuit” was first developed and produced by the National Biscuit Company (today known as Nabisco) in 1912 at its Chelsea Factory in New York City. Oreo has grown to become the bestselling cookie brand in the world generating $1.5 billion in global annual revenues.

Oreo stands out in people’s minds for the rituals associated with eating it (twisting the wafers apart and licking the cream, dunking in milk) and the warm feelings and memories of sharing those experiences with family and friends. Growing up, Oreo was my favorite cookie brand.


The Oreo Brand has also established itself as a leader in social media. The brand is best known for its perfectly timed tweet during the Super Bowl power outage that set a benchmark for breakthrough marketing on one of the most visible stages. The brand which ran a regular commercial during the first quarter of the game had copywriters and artists available to react to any opportunity. 

The Oreo Brand has become a social media powerhouse. The brand has over 33 million followers on Facebook and 95,000 followers on Twitter. The brand has learned the importance of “being social”.

In addition to the opportunistic Super Bowl Campaign, Oreo has a well crafted social media strategy that has kept the brand front and center with its fan base. Oreo has had several noteworthy social media campaigns. Their Daily Twist campaign ran from June 25, 2012 to October 2, 2012. Each day Oreo released a whimsical image of the cookie redesigned to commemorate something that had happened on that day.


Oreo has embraced social media to remain relevant. There are some great lessons to be learned from Oreo’s social media efforts. It is important to post frequently, be timely, topical, consistent and to have fun and show a sense of humor.

What is your favorite cookie brand?

Another marketing story coming out of the Super Bowl is the ongoing battle between sport brands Nike and Under Armour in the apparel, accessories and footwear category. Nike is the number one sports apparel brand with worldwide sales exceeding $24 billion in 2012. Under Armour’s sales for 2012 are estimated to be just shy of $2 Billion. Under Armour is clearly the challenger brand in this battle. However, they have made strong inroads in this country, but Nike dominates internationally. There is big money at stake in this lucrative market.

Neither brand advertised on the Super Bowl broadcast but both had a strong presence at the game. They used a combination of innovative approaches to make an impact. Nike is the official uniform supplier of all the teams in the National League. They also supply the gloves and cleats worn by NFL Players.This means that their logo was visible throughout the game. They are also able to capitalize on sales of licensed jerseys to fans. They design the uniforms for all 32 NFL Teams. For the big game, both teams wore the NFL Nike Elite 51 uniform. This uniform was designed to maximize players speed. Both teams wore Nike Alpha Pro Cleats and Nike Vapor Fly Gloves.


A number of the athletes who played on Sunday including Ray Lewis and Anquan Boldin are sponsored by Under Armour. These athletes were able to wear Under Armour products under their Nike uniforms with exposed logos. MVP Quarterback Joe Flacco of the Ravens has a Nike endorsement deal. Some athletes including Tom Brady, who is endorsed by Under Armour, have generated controversy by covering the Nike Swoosh Logo on his practice gear.

Under Armour’s headquarters is in Baltimore. They heavily promoted their allegiance to the Ravens on their website, through email communications and in social media. Nike equally promoted both teams on their website.

Both brands have promoted their partnerships with the NFL, the most powerful sports league in the country.  Since 2009, UA has sponsored the NFL Scouting Combine: an invitation-only event where 300 to 350 of the country’s top draft prospects run the 40-yard dash, lift weights and complete other athletic drills. All players must wear UA shirts, shorts and socks. The exposure of the NFL Combine deal helps UA’s brand in a couple of ways. It enables the brand to show off its base-layer products that are worn underneath the NFL uniforms — but not visible on TV. Also, UA gets to associate itself with future stars in the period between when they leaving college and join the NFL Players Association.

This will continue to be an interesting marketing battle to follow.

Which brand do you prefer Nike or Under Armour?


It’s game day. We are now only hours away from the Super Bowl. I am a lifelong New York Giants fan. Last year’s game was great. I am struggling to decide which team to root for this year. Neither option is particularly appealing as both teams have strong rivalries with the Giants, especially the 49ers. However, I do think San Francisco will win in a close game.

My attention will be more focused on the advertising and all the brands competing for attention. For many brand marketers, today is the Super Bowl of advertising. This year a 30 second commercial is selling for an estimated $3.8 million dollars up from $3.5 million last year. This does not include the cost of producing the commercials. There is a strong argument to be made that this a good value based on the pre and post game hype that the advertising receives and the 100 million households that will watch the game. For years, the only advertising that the Master Lock brand ran was on the Super Bowl. They believed it was worth the investment.

It is interesting and somewhat surprising that Gildan Activewear, a Montreal based t-Shirt, fleece, socks and sport shirt manufacturer, is advertising on the Super Bowl. Gildan only spent about $1MM in advertising in the United States in 2012. This year they are making a big bet on the Super Bowl. I am familiar with the Gildan label, but do not have a strong impression of what the brand stands for. They are better known for the products that they have manufactured for other brands and their strong licensing agreements. Gildan is not a small company, as they generated nearly $2 Billion in revenue last year.
Gildan Logo COLOR LR

This is a bold effort to establish the Gildan Brand in the minds of American consumers. Will it work? This will be an interesting story to follow. After watching the commercial, I still don’t get an impression of the brand. The commercial is funny but doesn’t leave a lasting impression. It seems to me that there would be better ways to build the brand.

What do you think of Gildan’s Super Bowl Commercial?

Volkswagen is a brand that has always made people feel good. Volkswagen has a history of creating innovative advertising and marketing communications. The legendary advertising agency Doyle, Dane and Bernbach created the “Think Small” campaign in 1959.  The “Think Small” campaign utilized simple black and white images with copy that told a story and built a relationship with a generation of Americans.

This was in sharp contrast to the “Muscle Car” advertising of the early 60’s that heavily promoted size and speed. The design of the print ads included a small product shot with a lot of whitespace. This design style influenced a generation of marketing communication. Over time people fell in love with the Volkswagen Beetle. Volkswagen became an iconic American Brand. Everyone has a Volkswagen Beetle story to tell.


Tomorrow is the Super Bowl. The ads often time generate as much buzz and talk as the game. Many Super Bowl commercials have already been watched by millions of people on You Tube as I write this post.


Volkswagen has created a somewhat controversial ad titled “Get in Get Happy”. The new ad features Jimmy Cliff covering “The Partridge Family’s theme  “C’mom Get Happy”. The ads feature an office worker from Minnesota who speaks with a Jamaican accent and attempts to cheer up his co-workers with sunny slogans. Some media critics have labeled the ads as racist. Jamaican’s Minister of Tourism and Entertainment, Wykeham McNeil, defended the ads. “I urge persons all across the globe to do exactly what the commercial portrays which is to tap into your inner Jamaican and get happy.”


Personally, I like the ad. I think it communicates the message that Volkswagen is a brand that makes people feel good. Volkswagen puts a smile on your face. The brand is leveraging its heritage in a modern way. Volkswagen has always found a way to cleverly leverage the stories of their passionate fans in their marketing.

Do you like Volkswagen’s new “Get in Get Happy” Commercial?

It has been eighteen years since the San Francisco 49ers won their last Super Bowl. From 1982 through 1995 the San Francisco 49ers won five Super Bowl Championships and established themselves as one of the top franchises in the National Football League. Bill Walsh’s leadership transformed the 49ers from one of the worst franchises to a dynasty. He was an innovator, a leader and a mentor who had a fantastic eye for talent. The West Coast Offense changed the way football was played. He developed many assistants who are now NFL Head Coaches. The Bill Walsh “Coaching Tree” continues to have a major impact on the National Football League. Sadly Bill Walsh died in 2007 from leukemia at the age of 75.


I am a lifelong New York Giants fan. I fondly remember the intense rivalry that the Giants of the Bill Parcell’s era had with the 49ers.

Prior to his death, Walsh granted exclusive interviews to bestselling author Steve Jamison. They became his ultimate lecture on leadership. Listed below are some of his key insights:

  • Developing a successful team starts with developing a successful culture.
  • The Leader Sets the Tone
  • Believe in People: Push them hard to be their very best. No one will ever come back later and thank you for expecting too little of them.
  • Professionalism Matters: There was no showboating allowed after touchdowns, no taunting of opponents, no demonstration to attract attention to oneself: “Champions act like champions before they’re champions.”
  • Protect your Blind Side: Prompt yourself to aggressively analyze not only your organization’s strengths, but also its unseen vulnerabilities
  • Sometimes You Can’t Have The Last Word. A leader cannot escape harsh criticism. Ignore the undeserving; learn from the deserving. Lick your wounds and move on. Your bruised ego will get over it.

The elements of successful leadership are the same whether you are running an NFL team, a Fortune 500 company or a small retail store.

What was Bill Walsh’s major contribution to the National Football League?