Commentary

NFL Eyes Liquor Advertisers

There have been liquor ads on TV for some time -- but not on the NFL. That will change this year, when they join the ranks of beer marketers for the league.

What comes next -- not just for NFL, but traditional TV in general?

Adding hard liquor seems to make sense for the NFL, since those marketers have aired hard liquor advertising on other TV programming for a decade or more. 

Imagine where the league might go next — although it doesn't appear it will be taking ads from gambling-like services anytime soon. NFL has even squashed efforts by Las Vegas to air TV advertising during the Super Bowl.

Back to beer: It’s alcohol, but not bad alcohol -- if you believe some beer-marketing executives. A MillerCoors spokesman told Ad Age: "As the beverage of moderation, beer and football have been synonymous for decades.”

Does that mean hard liquor is for hardcore fans?

All this brings up tougher questions for the traditional TV market: Where will new advertisers' categories and revenue come from?

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New categories and advertisers need to be accessed. Could TV go after smaller, niche digital marketers? How can TV find ways of accommodating those marketers?

It seems these efforts will be helped by traditional TV efforts to find new standardized audience segments for marketers; the TV network consortium  -- Open AP, for one -- backed by Fox Networks Group, Turner and Viacom.

No doubt big marketers also want to be more efficient at getting to viewers ready to buy. Smaller, niche marketers already get that from many digital media platforms.

TV has tried with riskier stuff -- condom TV commercials, for example. Big cable programmers, such as Turner’s Adult Swim, got some major benefits here. That may signal some effort to focus on younger-skewing Millennial products and services down the road.

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