the Chicago Bears, Seattle Seahawks,
Houston Texans and San Francisco 49ers.
Now some companies are re-evaluating.
Marriott, in a statement, called do-
mestic violence deplorable, adding, “We
applaud all efforts to stop it. … We will
continue to follow this matter closely and
await the findings of the investigations, at
which time we will take the opportunity
to review our sponsorship.”
Corporations spent $1.07 billion last
year on NFL sponsorships, according to
research firm IEG. Airlines were among
the 10 most active sponsors, ranking
twice as likely as the average company to
sponsor a team, IEG said.
By affiliating with the NFL, companies
get access to an affluent fan base, can do
creative events marketing and can put
their names and logos on stadium signs
for the world to see.
“The NFL, it’s the biggest thing going,
the hottest thing on television,” said Lau-
ra Ries, principal in the brand consulting
firm Ries & Ries, in Atlanta. “It’s going to
be pretty hard to stop, but this has defi-
nitely been a huge road bump.”
Travel firms typically hook up with
the NFL when they find a big overlap be-
tween their customers and the NFL fans.
That was the case with Marriott when it
became an NFL official sponsor.
This year, Courtyard by Marriott
brought a mobile mock-up of its newly
designed Bistro restaurant to the league’s
season opener in Seattle between the
Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers.
Marriott will also host tailgate parties
at 13 league games on Thursday nights
this season. It will run contests to send
guests to the NFL Pro Bowl or 2015 draft
and another social media photo contest to
win tickets to the Super Bowl or all away
games for the fan’s favorite team.
Courtyard is also offering an “All-Pro”
room package during the season that in-
cludes a starter dish at Bistro, two drinks,
late checkout and a $20 Amazon gift card.
Other travel suppliers focus sponsorship at the team level to be more strategic
and targeted in their marketing.
When Norwegian Cruise Line was
looking to amp up the local response for
its Miami-themed ship the Norwegian
Getaway, it made a deal to become an official partner of the Miami Dolphins.
A big part of the deal made the team’s
cheerleading squad the godmothers of
the ship when it was christened in February. This fall, there will be permanent
signage on the high-definition scoreboard
at the team’s home stadium, and monitors around the venue will feature videos
showcasing Freestyle Cruising.
A meet-and-greet plaza at the stadium
will host the “Ultimate Getaway Fan Experience,” an interactive way to “step
aboard” some of the Getaway’s thrill attractions like a water slide and a bungee
Norwegian also will sponsor a salute to
military heroes in the second quarter of
each game, run sweepstakes contests and
offer Dolphins fans a specialty restaurant
meal and bottle of wine when they book
on the Getaway.
Carnival Cruise Lines, which has added
a third ship in Galveston, Texas, this year,
is looking to the drive market in a multi-year partnership with the Dallas Cowboys
announced in July.
At home games, Carnival’s “Fun Crew”
will prowl the parking lots on branded
golf carts doling out prizes and raffle
tickets. Carnival will be visible on digital
marquees, and fans can enter social media
promotions and contests.
Princess, in announcing its four-team
sponsorship, said each city represents a
strong supplier of Princess guests, and Seattle, San Francisco and Houston also are
homeports for Princess ships.
Gordon Ho, marketing vice president
at Princess, said research turned up a correlation between NFL fans and the kind
of “meaningful traveler” Princess is currently targeting.
He also said Princess last year turned
the NFL games shown on its “Movies
Under the Stars” top-deck screens into
events with popcorn, themed drinks and
crew members clad in team jerseys.
So far, Princess is running a cruise prize
sweepstakes with each of the teams, but
there are plenty of ideas for expansion.
“We’re still early on,” he said.
Although several lesser-known players were suspended last week in further
examples of off-field misconduct, so far
there has been no sign that the public is
turning away from football.
“The NFL has lots of players who aren’t
in trouble and haven’t done anything
wrong,” said Ries, the brand consultant.
“The reality is, the [TV] ratings have not
taken a hit at all.”
But she said there is a potential pit-
fall for travel companies in that vacation
decision-makers are often female, and do-
mestic violence and child abuse are emo-
tional triggers for that group.
“For families, the woman has a large
part in deciding where we’re going to go
on vacation,” she said.
“I think that’s going to be a problem
with this particular story because it is
getting a lot of publicity, and women’s
groups are using it to bring a spotlight to
Danny King contributed to this report.
Continued from Page 1
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The following NFL teams have designated travel companies as official sponsors
during the 2014-15 season. In addition, Marriott has been the official hotel of the
league since 2011.
Team Travel company
Arizona Cardinals US Airways
Baltimore Ravens Southwest Airlines
Carolina Panthers US Airways
Chicago Bears Hyatt Hotels; Carnival Corp. (Princess Cruises)
Dallas Cowboys Carnival Corp. (Carnival Cruise Lines)
Houston Texans Carnival Corp. (Princess Cruises)
Miami Dolphins Norwegian Cruise Line
Minnesota Vikings Radisson Hotels
New Orleans Saints United Airlines
New York Jets JetBlue
San Francisco 49ers United Airlines; Carnival Corp. (Princess Cruises)
Seattle Seahawks Delta Air Lines; Carnival Corp. (Princess Cruises)
St. Louis Rams Delta Air Lines
Oakland Raiders AirAsia
Washington Redskins HotelPlanner.com
Norwegian Cruise Line CEO Kevin Sheehan with Miami Dolphins cheerleaders during the February inaugural of the
Norwegian Getaway, for which the cheerleaders were the godmothers. Norwegian is an official sponsor of the Dolphins.