The NFL brand is widely recognized worldwide, making it one of the most well-known brands. Despite having a long-standing fan base, they consistently strive to innovate in order to engage with the current generation. In this podcast episode, we spoke with Sarah Bishop, the NFL Vice President of Brand and Consumer Marketing. She shares insights on establishing emotional connections with their audience, emphasizing the importance of authenticity and humanizing NFL players as crucial elements for their success. Tune in to her episode to discover more about the NFL’s activities during the off-season and how they continuously prioritize their fans in all their endeavors.
- Her career and background.
- Marketing at the center of developing customer engagement.
- The ability of the NFL to create emotional connections.
- Storytelling in the sports industry.
- Human interactions towards important causes.
- Leading your marketing efforts with authenticity.
“I’m coming at this from a marketing perspective, but I would probably argue that, you know, marketing is at the center of really helping to develop those connections and engaging fans.”
“I’m always really impressed about how the NFL, from a marketing perspective is able to kind of build those, again, emotional connections with fans around key moments in the season, and also is able to continually innovate to kind of meet fans where they are.”
“The NFL fan base is changing. It doesn’t look the same way that it used to look from a demographic perspective 10, 15, 20 years ago. And I think that, you know, I’m continually impressed by how innovation continues to sort of be the red thread that ties everything we do from a branch and marketing perspective together at the league.”
“I think that, you know, the main sort of mission and vision that we’re focused on is how do we really keep football at the forefront of culture in order to connect with all of those groups.”
“We have an entire team at the n f that does amazing work continuing to innovate in that space, whether that is across social channels or expanding our footprint in the metaverse, or, you know, finding these influencers that are genuinely also rabid fans of the NFL to, to continue to tell the story through their voice.”
“The last piece is really, you know, continuing to communicate the purpose that the NFL serves and, and all of the different cause initiatives we have that underpin, um, everything else that we do on a weekly basis to bring the games to life. Uh, and I think that that has also been, um, a real point of connection for fans across our different demographics, especially our younger demographics.”
“And then I think the biggest thing that kind of, you know, is not new anymore, but our, when our CMO, Tim Ellis joined the company a number of years ago, he brought with him this idea of helmets off storytelling and, you know, getting to know your favorite players, not just in terms of how great they are on the field on a Sunday, but who are they, where are they from, sort of, you know, who’s inspired them to get involved in the game. And, and understanding that you know, we have a diverse set of players that obviously have a diverse, um, set of experiences and, and backgrounds. And being able to tell those stories has also been really helpful for us in being able to connect more authentically with a, a sort of new and next generation of fan.”
“We’re not only focused on continuing to get youth involved in playing tackle football, but we also really see flag football as an amazing, amazing, amazing opportunity to increase the accessibility and inclusivity of the sport, um, especially with girls and women.”
“I thought that that was such an important message. Yeah. Um, not just about the sport for everybody, but also for, for little girls to really see a place for themselves in the brand and, and to be able to start that connection from a young age and grow with the brand. I thought that was incredibly special and, uh, such an important message to be able to put out there.”
“I think because we feel like we have a duty with the platform and the reach, we have to bring awareness to some of the important causes that exist, um, across, you know, our ecosystem and across everything that’s happening in the world.”
“They give an opportunity to humanize our players and showcase the causes that our players really care about. And they also give us an opportunity for fans to get involved, whether that is through, you know, content and, some of the user-generated content or that’s through, you know, supporting some of these causes through merch. Um, so I think that that’s definitely a focus.”
“So I think that one of the beautiful things about the NFL is there is always, there’s always something happening even outside of, you know, the main season. Um, and I think the, the wonderful thing about the, the marketing team on our end is, you know, there are a number of different platforms that we have within the NFL ecosystem across social media.”
“And so there are a number of stories that we continue to be able to tell, and we have the platforms to reach the right people and reach, um, our audience to be able to tell those stories. So outside of the season, you know, when you don’t have action on a weekly basis, there are still a number of incredibly compelling storylines to keep fans engaged and keep them informed and educated heading into the next key mile set of key milestones.”
“I mean, gaming is a continued focus for us all throughout the year, whether that is, you know, roadblocks from more of a kid perspective, Fortnite, when we’re looking at teens or Madden, which, you know, continues to be, um, incredibly popular across multiple different age ages.”
“We’ve built platforms that allow us to connect with people and have them participate in the game, even if it’s not physically throughout the course of the year.”
“I think it’s critical to be honest, for any brand that you work on nowadays and with sort of the continual change of preferences and, you know, everything like that. But definitely, it’s critical for the NFL.”
“I would say there are a number of different ways we continue to innovate, um, especially in season. Um, so we sort of focus on, you know, three or four things, but more and better football, which is, you know, something that happens on the field, um, more digital streaming of the games. That’s been a, a shift that’s been incredibly important for us, again, from a speed perspective, but to continue to keep up with changing preferences.”
“When we talk about changing preferences and, you know, the fact that our fans, uh, you know, come not necessarily all speaking English and have different ways that they want to consume watching a game, um, the technology that we’ve been able to tap into through our broadcast partners to create these, what we call alt casts, alternative broadcasts of games, has also been a huge point of innovation.”
“I would probably say leading with authenticity is the most important thing. When you talk about kind of like how the NFL connects with some of these different audiences, everything is done thoughtfully, respectfully, um, strategically, but all through this lens of being authentic, to foreigners and by the audiences.”
“I think what has really been key to the success of everything that we’ve been able to do here is we’re really focused on how we authentically connect, which means finding the right people, highlighting the players, and the stories that matter most.”