They think it’s all over…..

7th November 2017 by Dominic Bates

Sunday 29th October marked the fourth and final game of the 2017 London Series. An entertaining finale saw Minnesota Vikings run out comfortable winners over Cleveland Browns despite a spirited first-half display from the AFC’s perennial losers.

And as an NFL record crowd at Twickenham of 74,237 exited the ‘bleachers’, it appeared that the NFL was packing up and leaving town for another year – but are they leaving?

The growth of American football in the UK is gathering pace and with a 10-year partnership agreed with Tottenham Hotspur when their new stadium is built – there’s zero evidence to suggest this will do anything other than ramp up in the coming years.

As the NFL UK’s retained talent and influencer agency, we know better than most how ever-present it has become in our sporting culture – look no further than the NFL Highlights Show which holds the prime TV spot directly after Match of The Day on BBC 1.

A key tactic for success has been to introduce influential individuals to the sport, facilitating access and ‘money can’t buy’ experiences to nurture their relationship with the sport. The outcome, is NFL focused content flooding your social media feeds.

So, when you watch the Instagram stories of Rio Ferdinand or YouTube star Calfreezy tweeting a multitude of emoji’s reacting to the latest insane one-handed triple backflip catch from OBJ – you’re not surprised – because you know they’re a fan – you’ve spotted the pattern on their channels.

For many, the high quality ‘fly on the wall’ productions charting teams training camps in pre-season like ‘Hard Knocks’ or ‘All or Nothing’ are a starting point. They help sports fans to build a rapport with a team.

Then the star players enter the frame and seal the deal with their colourful and unfiltered personalities….something we crave from our EPL stars and in most case, are left wanting (bar the likes of Paul Pogba).

EA SPORTS introduced ‘Longshot’ in the new Madden 18. The journey mode where players attempt to take prospect Devon Wade, played by JR Lemon, all the way to the top – learning important lessons about how the game works both on and off the field in the process.

For sporting fanatics who are still a little wary of NFL and its complex rulebook (let’s not get started on the playbook!), the story mode acts as a soft entry to the sport and is a vital tool to convert into fandom.

Then there’s Red Zone – the live highlights offering on speed! Think Soccer Saturday…. but with actual live match footage. And forget the breaks in play, the on-screen game swaps and changes as soon as a team reaches scoring territory. If you haven’t already, check it out.

These multiple and varied entry points cater for all, and they’re working. But how do we take it to the next level and start changing behavioural patterns?

The answer, we believe, is to identify and build long-term, authentic relationships with credible celebrities and social influencers and use them as a vehicle for change. We don’t care about one-off mass reach from a single social post.

A static Instagram post from Lewis Hamilton to his 5.4 million followers saying he’s an NFL fan does nothing for the NFL UK brand if it’s not authentic and consistent. We’ll sacrifice the headline figures for genuine fans. We want the guys who are all-in for the season.

And when we’re talking about change, we’re not asking you to swap your beloved Super Sunday for an afternoon of gridiron. It’s not a competition. We just want you to give it a chance. You won’t regret it.