The sports brand is looking to work with its UK-only sponsors such as Virgin Atlantic and Chrysler to develop content packages around team news, player interviews and profiles of coaches. Additionally, it is planning to use its social media channels to enhance the match highlights coverage on BBC Radio 5 Live, Channel 4 and Sky Sports.
It is hoped the move will raise the profile of the NFL’s regular season, which runs from August to January, in the UK and make organisers less dependant on high profile events the SuperBowl and the annual match at Wembley Stadium to attract new English consumers.
Speaking to Marketing Week, the NFL’s UK commercial director Ben Dunn, who joined in December, says: “Bringing social elements into every campaign and live experience that we do allows us to talk more directly with fans. Through content we’re making it easier for fans to follow any team or match whether its shown on television or not.”
A key tool in the sports brand’s bid for more overseas prominence will be its UK website, which is being positioned as a forum for fans to discuss games rather than just a place to purchase apparel and tickets. Last year, organisers launched a separate NFL-360 hub, where fans can learn about the history of the sport in a bid to address concerns that the american football is too complicated.
Dunn adds: “People in the UK haven’t grown up watching or playing the sport so it’s about leveraging the internet and all online channels to give the same level of access our American fans have. While the matches at Wembley remain the UK’s showcase event, we’re trying to cultivate a passion for the sport and give the game an even greater depth than what is being shown on television.”
Although a small market, the United Kingdom is seen as the bridge into European markets for NFL chiefs, and Dunn says the brand is on track to treble its 2 million fanbase in the UK by 2016. Fan numbers are growing at around 20 per cent in the UK and merchandise partnerships with New Era and Nike are expected to boost the rate of growth in the coming months.
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