Navigate Research

Industry Insights

As the industry leader in evaluating and measuring marketing investments, Navigate has a wealth of knowledge in the sponsorship and marketing space. This blog shares our knowledge and insights on current events in the sports business, marketing and sponsorship worlds.

NFL Broadens Reach with Female Friendly Partnerships

Monroestar Inc - Thursday, November 20, 2014
Professional sports leagues have been teaming up with clothing retailers and different celebrities in hopes to broaden their female fan base and stray away from what they call the “shrink it and pink it” methodology of selling women’s sports apparel. 

Most recently, Kristin Cavallari, current reality star and wife of Chicago Bears quarterback, Jay Cutler, partnered with NFL Women’s Clothing and Junk Food Clothing to create her own line of NFL Women’s wear. The NFL licensed every team logo to Cavallari and Junk Food for her collection, which debuted at New York Fashion Week last Fall . 

Currently, the NFL has 49 million female fans , but there’s still room for growth. Partnering with a celebrity such as Cavallari gives the NFL a shot at reaching a wider range of females, who may not be interested in football, but are fans of Cavallari. She is very active in the social scene. Cavallari has more than one million followers on Twitter, where she actively promotes her clothing line and is constantly interacting with her fans. 

Actress Alyssa Milano also partnered up with the $1.2 billion company, G-III Apparel Group , who has licensing agreements with all of the major sports leagues, including NASCAR, to create her sportswear line, “Touch.” Unlike Cavallari, Milano’s line caters to all sports, not just the NFL, which in turn amounts for more exposure among a wider range of fans. Similarly, Milano is also big on Twitter, with more than three million followers amongst her social media channels. 

Licensing deals like these can be very lucrative for both the retailer and the sports league. In 2012, Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association (LIMA) stated that total sales in both collegiate and professional sports was worth upward of $12 billion . With the league generally receiving a percentage of the sales, these deals have the ability to bring in a vast amount of money. 

Partnering with unexpected sources as well as celebrities are great ways to broaden the reach on fans, and in this case create more sponsorship inventory. The NFL generates around $1 billion alone on merchandise and licensing , so it’s no wonder pro leagues are licensing logos out to more and more retailers. Teaming up with Cavallari and Milano was a smart move by these leagues, because not only are they going to reach a different crowd, but will be bringing in the dollars from their licensing deals at the same time.

Sponsorship Activation Monday- 10.27.14

Navigate Research - Monday, October 27, 2014
Each Monday, we will share some great activation practices throughout the sports and entertainment landscape. This blog will serve as a space to highlight innovative ideas and campaigns. Want to have your idea or campaign featured? Send us a note on Twitter at @Navigate_Res.

This week we take a look at a couple of NFL sponsorships in two emerging categories: Headphones & Tablets. 

In April, Bose signed a four-year $32 million deal to be the Official Headphone provider of the NFL. Meaning, all of the coaching staff, players as well as the referees will have to wear Bose headphones whenever they are on the field, on the sidelines, in a press conference, and so on. This gives Bose excellent visibility and exposure both on and off the field. However, due to the competitive market and a number of players advertising for other brands, sometimes the non-sponsor ends up receiving unprompted exposure. 

Colin Kaepernick wore Beats by Dre Headphones to a press conference and the NFL fined him $10,000 for that. This move, in turn, ended up drawing more attention to Beats rather than Bose. Beats by Dre, although not the official sponsor, received a large amount national attention and coverage over this, whether it was intentional or not. 

Another occurrence of this is Apple gaining attention from Microsoft’s deal with the NFL. The NFL and Microsoft have a partnership in which their Surface tablets are used on the sidelines during games by players and coaches. Due to a lack of education and communication among the NFL, game broadcasters and Microsoft, the commentators have continually referred to the Surface tablets, as iPads, which they are not. Microsoft reportedly paid $400 million to be the NFL’s Official Sideline Technology Partner, but I wonder who has benefited more from that partnership.

NFL Seems to Have Survived Sponsorship Scare

Navigate Research - Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Written by Preston McClellan 

The last month hasn't exactly been the greatest in terms of image for the NFL, and many in the sports business world wondered if (and when) sponsors might start to take notice. Anheuser-Busch InBev, one of the league’s largest sponsors, made waves when it first declared that it was unhappy with the league’s handling of domestic violence in the wake of the Ray Rice scandal.

Considering that the league makes somewhere between $1-2 billion in sponsorships (representing approximately 11-22% of the league’s overall revenue), that kind of sentiment from sponsors is enough to make the league (and its clubs) a little nervous.

The NFL and its teams can seemingly breathe a collective sigh of relief today, as Mophie became the first company to sign up to be a Super Bowl advertiser since the league’s troubles surrounding domestic violence began.

With the average 30-second spot for this year’s Super Bowl XLIX on NBC going for around $4 million, getting a company to buy in will hopefully re-open the floodgates for advertisers and marketers alike.

In a solid proactive and public relations based move, the NFL is also going to have some of its players appear in Domestic Violence public service announcements. The PSAs will start on October 23 and will run during all NFL games. According to USA Today, three of the first men to film their spots were Eli Manning, Mark Herzlich, and NFL Exec. VP/Football Operations Troy Vincent. 

The total air time for the ads during the week of Oct. 23 is expected to be around $8 million—money the NFL is more than willing to eat in favor of this cause. The spots will also be shown on Viacom billboards in Time Square and be available on YouTube. 

Can The NFL's Female Fan Base Get Any Larger?

Navigate Research - Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Written by Matt Balvanz

The NFL’s recent domestic abuse issues have raised a lot of questions about the culture and direction of the league, especially from its female fan base. At a time when the league has become the most dominant in the US, the impact of these issues have been felt by a huge number of female NFL fans. However, are these issues jeopardizing the expansion of its female fan base, or has the NFL already saturated the female population?

According to Nielsen Scarborough, there are currently 49 million female NFL fans in the US, which is roughly 50% of the adult female population in this country. The NFL is easily the most popular of the Big Four sports leagues among females, as MLB is only followed by 39% of females, the NBA is followed by 28% and the NHL by 18%. This means that the NFL has over 10 million more female fans than any of the other leagues, which is a great advantage when it comes to driving up attendance, TV viewership and merchandise sales. But, as large as the female fan base is for the NFL, can it get even larger?

When looking at the female fan bases outside of the Big Four, the NFL is actually the second most popular sport, as the Olympics are followed by 56% of females, providing a fan base of 55 million people. So, to become the most popular sport among females, the NFL has room to increase its female following by 6 million people. If the NFL were able to become the most popular sport among females, that would be a huge achievement for the league, and would provide some incredible upside in terms of revenue growth. But, would there be even more room to grow the fan base beyond this point?

Among the male population in the US, an astonishing 72% are fans of the NFL, which equates to 67 million adult males. If 72% of females were fans of the NFL, that would mean over 71 million female NFL fans, or an incremental 22 million more than there are today.

While the female NFL following may never reach the male level of saturation, it’s safe to say that there is still some room to grow the female fan base for the NFL by several million people over the next few seasons.