The NFL season kicks off ce soir.
My poor girlfriend is already sick of it. Conversely, I could not be more excited.
The NFL has many PR-related problems. From players getting arrested to labour relations issues, the flaks at the league offices are kept on their toes. But while other leagues (hello, NBA!) get hurt by this kind of nonsense, the NFL continues to reign supreme.
Simply put, the NFL is a marketing machine. In fact, one of the most interesting storylines of the past 30 years of sports history is how the NFL has replaced baseball as America’s game and established a dominant position as a spectator sport in North America.
So much of the NFL’s success relates to the ‘Product P’ of marketing (the one that matters most, and is most neglected/downplayed by professional marketers).
Why is the NFL ‘product’ so good from a marketing perspective?
- First, the league is setup for parity meaning that anyone can win ‘on any given Sunday’. Because an 8-8 team can make the playoffs the stakes are high, and so the product matters considerably to even casual fans.
- Second, the league is RUTHLESS with labour. Football has no guaranteed contracts, making the NFL perhaps the most competitive labour marketplace on Earth. The talent is amazing or is quickly back on the farm harvesting corn. This makes the product incredible.
- Third, the product itself is naturally scarce. Baseball, hockey, and basketball all have long seasons with many games. This devalues the products of these sports. In the NFL, the regular season only lasts for 16 games over 17 weeks.
- Fourth, the fact that games occur (mostly) on one day a week makes watching the NFL a ritual. For so many – including me and my friends – Sunday is a day to chill, eat, and watch the games. What marketer on Earth would not want their product to be a ritual?
Yes, the NFL has its problems. Yes, it does the ‘Promotion P’ in the marketing mix well. But, at the end of the day, it is a next level product. That’s why it kicks ass.
The lesson: the Product P, done right, is damn resilient.