This weekend’s #SundayMusings will focus on the NFL and NFL branding. While the league has clearly become America’s favorite sport with millions watching every weekend, it certainly doesn’t have its warts. The league can’t seem to stay out of the news in a negative way as well. Check ESPN’s NFL page at any point and you are likely to see at least one headline of a legal issue.
The 2014 season started off with the Ray Rice domestic abuse incident and Adrian Peterson’s child abuse case, then finished with “DeflateGate”. Commissioner Roger Goodell stumbled and bumbled all the way through both, leading to more terrible PR for the league.
Within hours of the season ending in Super Bowl XLIX, the NFL found itself with more controversy. Cleveland Browns QB Johnny Manziel checked himself into rehab and his star WR was busted once again and suspended for all of the 2015 NFL season. None of this is good news but the NFL will survive.
Typically in #SundayMusings we look for stories within the past week or two to discuss. However, we’re going a little further back this week and looking at various articles that have been written about the NFL’s branding and how/where the league stands to benefit.
#1 – “The NFL Brand – Discuss” – via Forbes.com
Premise: With several of the stories listed above hot in the news, the author conducts a ‘roundtable’ discussion on the NFL brand with several strong minds in the marketing and advertising space.
Thoughts: Excellent reference to the NFL as “The Teflon Brand” as no matter what the issue has been, the NFL has moved past it and gotten stronger in the ratings. There are a lot of good ideas and thoughts in this piece and is worth the read, particularly behind the last question/thought, “can a brand be too strong, too powerful?”
#2 – “After Ray Rice, the NFL Needs to Go Big to Restore Brand with Women” via AdWeek.com
Premise: After the Ray Rice story broke, many said that the NFL needed to more than just treat it like a PR issue. The NFL was going to have to really focus on this and women in order to not lose a significant chunk of its audience.
Thoughts: The NFL responded and forged partnerships with domestic violence groups such as No More. Throughout the season there were “No More” ads aired on live broadcasts and on NFL Network. The latest was aired during the Super Bowl …
#3 – “The NFL Brand May Just Be Unstoppable” via TalentZoo.com
Premise: Despite its PR issues, the NFL is the most powerful brand in sports, controlling its own image, licensing, and messaging. There are no “down times” across the calendar year in the NFL, as it has spaced out its activities to ensure it stays in the news and in the minds of fans.
Thoughts: This is something the NFL does very, very well and where leagues like MLB are a disaster. Throughout the offseason, there are key dates for the NFL like the draft, the combine, the schedule release and more. Meanwhile, MLB releases the following season’s schedule during their own playoffs, when fans are paying the most attention.
#4 – “UA Branding Expert Says NFL’s Image Will Recover” via UANews.org
Premise: UA’s Hope Schau provides perspective on the NFL’s branding efforts over the course of the past season. She says that while the NFL has made its fair share of mistakes, “the NFL hasn’t lost the essence of what it is.” The NFL brand will recover and move on.
Thoughts: Excellent point from Schau towards the end of the write-up, reminding us that social media allows us to shape our own image in front of the world, 24/7.
It would take quite a bit for me to believe the NFL is not going to be able to recover. One of those areas would be a mutiny from former and current players regarding player safety (concussions and more). That is probably the only way I can see the NFL brand falling apart and that isn’t likely going to happen soon.
Tweet of the Week:
No More, the NFL’s domestic-violence partner, is a sham: http://t.co/rgBPbYMmIe
— Deadspin (@Deadspin) February 6, 2015
The cynic in me completely buys into this story and article. I personally don’t like Roger Goodell at all. This article paints that picture perfectly for me. Take the 8 minutes to read this article from Deadspin – it could completely change your opinion on what the NFL tried to do this season and fix its PR issues.
What do you think of the NFL’s branding efforts? Will this ship sink or does it have enough support to continue to move past its off the field issues?