NFL plans $50M "Back to Football" campaign

Updated: August 31, 2010, 4:58 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- The NFL plans to welcome the start of its regular season next week with a $50 million "Back to Football" marketing campaign.

The effort aims to keep up last year's record TV ratings and improve its value to sponsors.

The league is running ads for "Back to Football" on its broadcast partners NBC, CBS, FOX, ESPN, and NFL Network. All are using the slogan, too.

Retailers Kohl's, Dick's and Old Navy are also running promotions and featuring NFL merchandise.

In all, the league estimates total media spending by the NFL and its sponsors to be worth $50 million on the campaign, which it plans to run each year from July through the season's start in early September.

NFL Chief Marketing Officer Mark Waller said the NFL wants the season's start to be as strong as its finish, which is marked by the Super Bowl.

This year's Super Bowl, with the New Orleans Saints victorious over the Indianapolis Colts, became the most-watched event in U.S. television history.

"There's huge pent-up demand," Waller said Tuesday. "You don't stop being a football fan when the season ends."

The league asked sponsors and broadcasters to use the theme, telling them "the more you engage fans the better it is for all of us," Waller explained.

The NFL also expanded its pre-game show for the kickoff game on Sept. 9 to one hour from 30 minutes. The season's first game has the Saints hosting the Minnesota Vikings. The day after that, fans will be asked to wear jerseys or their team colors, the NFL said, including people at work and at school.

Last year's regular season games averaged 18.4 million viewers, up nearly 10 percent from the prior year, according to The Nielsen Company.

Ratings so far this preseason, which started in early August, have also been strong, Waller said. Interest has been heightened because of 40-year-old Brett Favre again playing quarterback for the Vikings and the new football stadium in New York shared by the Jets and the Giants.

"There's just so many story lines, the interest is as high as it's ever been," he said.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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