The National Football League’s official sponsors are gearing up for Super Bowl week with unprecedented activations both in conjunction with league-created events and those being held separately—with the league’s blessing, of course.
Sponsors wanting to promote their brands in Super Bowl-related activities at their own events have been working with the NFL, which must approve all said events and content. Only official league sponsors are permitted to use the NFL marks, which include the NFL shield, the word “Super Bowl” and the big game’s logo. And only season-long NFL sponsors have the expressed written consent to market around the Super Bowl.
“We don’t sell any one-offs for Super Bowl events,” says Renie Anderson, senior VP of sponsorship and partnership management for the NFL. “Only official league partners can participate in or sponsor Super Bowl events.”
The biggest of them all this year, Super Bowl Boulevard “Engineered By” GMC, will kick off the pre-Super Bowl activities on Wednesday, Jan. 29 and run through Saturday, Feb. 1, the night before Super Bowl XLVIII. Running daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., the four-day street fair of activities features participation from several NFL partners in addition to GMC. The event will run 14 outdoor city blocks from 34th street to 47th street, right through Times Square in New York City, just over the bridge from the New Jersey site of the big game.
The usual focal point of Super Bowl week, The NFL Experience, is not being held this year because the league could not find a suitable venue sizable enough in the New York metro area. It will return for next year’s Super Bowl.
However, Super Bowl Boulevard is a pretty solid alternative, and one that Anderson says the league wants to continue at next year’s Super Bowl in Glendale, Arizona, even when the NFL Experience returns.
In addition to being the sponsor of Super Bowl Boulevard, GMC will also sponsor one of the main events along the Boulevard, the Toboggan Run Engineered by GMC. An always popular carnival staple, the “Run” will be an eight lane, 60-foot-high slide; tickets will cost $5, but the NFL is donating that revenue to MillionTreesNYC, an organization which hopes to plant one million trees throughout New York City over the next 10 years.
GMC will also host a Kids Day event during the festivities and will get to entertain its dealers at a reception in the hospitality area.
No food will be sold at the four-day event to avoid taking business away from the assorted eateries in Times Square and along the route. However, several NFL food partners will be permitted to give out free samples. Papa John’s will distribute free pizza, McDonald’s will have street teams roaming around providing free coffee, Snickers and M&M’s will have a game area with some free samples, and Campbell’s plans to offer free hot soup (which may be quite welcome if the weather approaches frozen tundra conditions).
Sponsors Line Up
Other NFL partners with sponsorship messages inside the Boulevard will include software company SAP, Pepsi/Tostitos and Bridgestone. SAP will sponsor the NFL.com Tech Zone, a high-tech, interactive experience that offers fans images, data and insights about the NFL. Pepsi/Tostitos and Bridgestone will also sponsor fan event activities.
The NFL Play 60 field goal kicking area for fans will be sponsored by the Barclaycard.
Along the Boulevard, NFL House, a VIP hospitality area at the Marriott Marquis Hotel will be presented by Verizon. Other sponsors setting up shop there will be CoverGirl and USAA.
The Super Bowl XLVIII Media Day on Tuesday, Jan. 28 at the Prudential Center in Newark will be sponsored by Gatorade. Players attending will be wearing special Media Day uniforms by Nike. The Super Bowl media center in the Sheraton Times Square hotel will be sponsored by Xbox One.
On game day, the Fan Plaza, which is located inside the MetLife Stadium fences but outside the stadium will have myriad sponsored events for ticketholders who want to head in early. Procter & Gamble will be presenting sponsor of the Fan Plaza. P&G inside the Plaza will also sponsor a 50X50-foot turf mini field with branding on the field’s LED pylons.
Other sponsors inside the Plaza will include Bud Light, Campbell’s Chunky Soup, Frito-Lay, Mars, Pepsi, SAP and Verizon. Bose speakers will be used at the Game Day Fan Plaza. Several sponsors will also get exposure on MetLife Stadium’s LED scoreboards during the game.
NFL partner FedEx will have sites around all the NFL events and the Media Center, where fans and media can ship items home or wherever they wish.
Mars Attacks, For Pepsi
Of course, Pepsi will sponsor the Super Bowl halftime show starring Bruno Mars, who was announced in September, and the more recently announced Red Hot Chili Peppers. Pepsi has been conducting a multimedia “Get Hyped for Halftime” campaign, including signage throughout the New York City subway system.
And the NFL’s Anderson says many league partners will be utilizing existing digital signage in Times Square.
Other sponsor activations in New York City include the Bud Light Hotel on a cruise ship docked on the Hudson River next to the Intrepid; Pepsi’s and Verizon’s interactive spaces in Bryant Park near Times Square; Under Armour’s space at Grand Central Station; and Gatorade’s setup in a hotel in SoHo.
The Third Annual NFL Honors awards show will be held live from Radio City Music Hall on the night before the Super Bowl. It is televised on the network that airs the Super Bowl each year, so this year it will be on Fox on Saturday, Feb.1 from 8-10 p.m.
During the show, again hosted by Alec Baldwin, the Associated Press announces its seven annual NFL awards in various categories. The rest of the awards are given by the NFL, which has partners sponsoring each of them.
The NFL buys the time for the telecast from the televising network and sells the advertising. It also participates in the production of the telecast. That enables it to do integrations if it so chooses. In this year’s telecast, instead of opening envelopes to find out the names of the winners, Microsoft Surface tablets will post the names for presenters.
Another integration in the NFL Honors show will involve Lenovo, which created a Fantasy Coach of the Year contest and will announce the winner during the telecast. The winner gets a trip to the Pro Bowl and will be featured in a vignette shown during the telecast.
Top-tier sponsors of the show include Bridgestone, Castrol Edge, GMC, Lenovo, Xbox One, Papa John’s, Pepsi Next, SAP and Xfinity. Associate sponsors include FedEx, Marriot Courtyard and USAA.
And what awards show these days can be televised without a fashionable lead-in? Prior to the Fox telecast at 8 p.m., NFL Network will offer up an hour-long Red Carpet show, with Xfinity as presenting sponsor, in conjunction with the NFL Honors telecast.