For the past few years, the National Football League has focused more of its licensed-merchandise strategy on its 85 million -- or 45% -- of fans who are women. Now the league is launching its biggest marketing campaign to date about its team-branded apparel. The message is that NFL apparel for women is fashionable, hip, practical and for every kind of female fan.
The “It’s My Team” effort -- via Grey NY, and Grey Group’s activation and PR division "Alliance" -- includes print and digital elements, and spotlights real fans and how they demonstrate team pride by donning NFL-inspired style at games, work, home, and about town.
Some of the fans in the ads probably have their own fans (and maybe a few detractors): among the 22 women profiled are former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who is now on faculty at the Stanford Graduate School of Business; Serena Williams, who is a Miami Dolphins Limited Partner; and Melania Trump, wife of The Donald.
Among others in the campaign are Charlotte Anderson, Dallas Cowboys Owner/EVP brand management; Susie Castillo, Miss USA 2003 and a Patriots fan; Gracie and Tavia Hunt, daughter and wife, respectively, of Kansas City Chiefs chairman and CEO Clark Hunt; professional dancer and Pittsburgh Steelers fan Kym Johnson; Suzanne Johnson, wife of New York Jets owner Woody Johnson; D.J. Kiss a New Orleans Saints fan; and Peta Murgatroyd, a dancer and Green Bay Packers fan.
The campaign shows off products from the new NFL Women’s Nike Fan Gear Apparel line, which incorporate team logos and colors in tanks, tees, sports bras, shorts, capris, jackets, and hoodies. They are at NFLShop.com, Nike Stores and nikestore.com/NFL. Both Nike and '47 Brand are new NFL apparel licensees. They join VF Licensed Sports Group, G-III, and 5th & Ocean. Game Time, Cuce Shoes, Little Earth, LogoArt and Old Pro Leather Goods will add to the collection with watches, boots and accessories items.
The league has made a big push to build awareness of its licensed women's products, having first advertised women's apparel two years ago, when it also launched its first pop-up retail space in New Orleans. About 20% of sales of NFL products are to women, per the League. During the NFL draft in April the league ran a pop-up store on Sixth Avenue and 41st Street in New York.
Tracey Bleczinski, the NFL’s VP of consumer products, tells Marketing Daily that while the NFL has been licensing women's products for a dozen years or so, the real push began three years ago. "We realized that while we had terrific products for women, we needed to build awareness," she says, adding that the other element of the strategy was promoting the products as versatile and stylish -- not just for tailgate parties, but for going out on the town, casual wear, sports -- you name it. "If you are a football fan, you aren't just a fan on game day."
Bleczinski says sales of the products have outpaced the NFL's sales goals, and awareness of the array of products for women has grown as well since the league began promoting the lineup. "We have gone after it in a much more significant way and the response from our female fan base has been tremendous."
She says the choice of women in the ads is intended to reflect the diversity of the NFL fan base in terms of profession and ethnicity, and that the media buy reflects that breadth of appeal as well. "We are in everything from Vogue and Seventeen to Sports Illustrated and Women's Health."
While the League won't do pop-up stores this year, per Bleczinksi, it is likely to expand the Style Lounge boutique it tested at New York Jets games. "It as really well received, so I think this year we will have boutiques at more stadiums."