The company, which has been a sponsor since 1984, is initially using the contract--running through 2010--to promote its Canon Digital Rebel and EOS SLR cameras. In addition to getting the rights to NFL imagery and logos, which it can use in its advertising, Canon will run a series of promotions this fall that tie NFL with amateur and professional photography. Canon will also roll out a new print and broadcast ad campaign to coincide with the start of the season to primarily support the two Canon camera brands.
Former NFL quarterback Archie Manning will again be spokesperson for Canon, as well as for an amateur photo contest co-sponsored by the Pro Football Hall of Fame: the "Why Do You Love Football?" contest gives amateur shutterbugs taking photos of youth football events, entree to a competition dangling a trip for four to the Super Bowl XLII game in Arizona, and a shot at having the photo displayed in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, in Canton, Ohio.
Canon will run a separate effort, "Shoot Like a Pro," in which 80 people--fans of 10 NFL teams--get a chance to shoot their team's home game from the sidelines with tutelage from a professional photographer.
Canon is also running a similar national effort at usa.canon.com/nfl in which the grand prize is a chance to shoot the Pro Bowl in Hawaii from the sidelines.
Rob Altman, Canon associate marketing manager, says it's all part of an effort to use football as a connection between amateur and professional photography. He adds that photo contests build brand awareness and enthusiasm for the hobby. "Our goal is to get people taking pictures, and they will then, hopefully, want to use better equipment."
He says Canon's football-themed TV spot, "Inspired by Canon," reflects that theme as well. "We like the NFL [as a marketing platform] because most photographers on the sideline shoot with Canon," he says. "We are number one both with consumers and pros, so it's a big part of our strategy to make that link. In the TV advertising we show pros shooting with Canon cameras--identifiable by their white lens barrels--intercut with parents shooting youth game with Canon Digital Rebel cameras," he says.
Canon also sponsors the photo gallery within NFL.com, and gets its logo on in-game content intended to drive people to the site. During coverage, the two-minute warning in the first half includes a short piece highlighting the best photos taken during the prior week's game. That piece, narrated and produced by NFL Films, ends with an exhortation to fans to go to NFL.com to see more photos within the online gallery, which is "Presented by Canon, Official Camera of the NFL."
Altman notes that Canon has been a major sports advertiser for decades. In the 70s, the company used sports to promote its SLR (single lens reflex) cameras. In addition to Sharapova, the company has, in the past, tapped Andre Agassi as a spokesperson.
"Sports is the ultimate portrait test," says Altman. "If a camera can handle sports it can handle everything. So it's a great way to show the capability of a camera; that's why we have used sports, historically."