To celebrate the 2023 football season kick-off, the NFL partnered with Snapchat for an on augmented reality lens experience aimed at stoking supporter excitement by enabling them to virtually wear team jerseys, to create a virtual bobblehead, play cornhole, tailgate, enter a commentator contest and even purchase official NFL merchandise.
The refreshed ‘NFL Kickoff Jersey Lens’ is customizable to each user’s favourite team: it enables fans to virtually wear their team’s new season jersey and, utilizing Snap’s ‘Live Garment Transfer Technology’ allows the jerseys to realistically move with users as they move around in the real world.
Plus, the lens also offers a link to the NFL Shop website and thus enables fans to directly buy the jerseys they’ve virtually tried on.
The lens also places football tailgating related objects – including a truck and a grill – into the world in front of the user through augmented reality which also enables them to play a game of cornhole (a popular, traditional outdoor/picnic game partly based on football) while 3D Bitmojis cheer them on.
Plus, or the home opener for the champion Kansas City Chiefs when they host the Houston Texans, Snapchat created a special augmented reality lens that takes fans from the Chiefs’ locker room through the tunnel and into Arrowhead Stadium where they’ll be greeted by Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes and Houston’s Deshaun Watson.
This lens was available nationally and, as regular games begin, it will transform into an entrance into a more generic NFL stadium.
In addition to AR Lens, three NFL shows are also available through the ‘Stories’ and ‘Spotlight’ features in the Snapchat app.
As well as a game-day updated highlights show, the NFL is also creating three weekly shows: ‘Rankings’ (which offers historic NFL facts designed to encourage fan debates), ‘Mic’d Up (a behind-the-scenes look at what coaches and players say during the games) and ‘Predictions’.
Plus the league will also continue producing Snapchat’s ‘Real Talk with the NFL’: a show that highlights the league’s social justice initiatives.
All of this content is created by the league’s social lab in partnership with Snap.
Another strand of the tie-ups new season kick-off activation programme is a ‘Spotlight Challenge’ which will run between 7 and 13 September and encourages Snapchat users to use the app’s voiceover tool to show off their best NFL commentator voice in order to be in with a chance to win a share of $10,000 for creating the ‘Top Snap’.
Additional Spotlight Challenges will launch throughout the NFL season.
“Football is back, and we could not be more excited to offer new and innovative ways for Snapchatters to express their fandom and engage with their favorite NFL teams,” said Snapchat Manager Of Sports Partnerships Tara Carey. “From augmented reality experiences to custom Bitmojis and more, we look forward to continuing our partnership with the NFL to bring fans closer to the action all season long.”
“The collaboration between the NFL and Snapchat underscores the transformative role of AR in enhancing fan experiences,” continued Carey. “With these advancements, fans globally can expect a more immersive football season. They can personalize their experiences, virtually try on jerseys, and access exclusive content. It’s evident that AR technology will shape the future of sports, drawing fans even closer to the action.
According to Ian Trombetta, the NFL’s SVP of Social and Influence Marketing, “while the NFL continues to see high ratings on traditional linear TV, Snapchat plays a really critical role for us”.
“It’s always about: How do we engage new audiences, younger audiences, and do it in ways that are very authentic to the platforms?” explained Trombetta. “We don’t look to do things that are just content dumps.”
Snap and the NFL recently announced a multi-year extension to their content partnership and the main goal of the NFL and Snapchat collaboration is to provide a more interactive and immersive fan experience.
According to Snapchat, viewership of NFL content increased 80% during the 2019/20 and 2020/21 season and that 90% of viewers were under the age of 35.
In the USA, the NFL (along with the NBA) tends to lead the way in terms of this kind of social and AR tie-up to elevate fan engagement as the leagues experiment with AR’s potential in sports to offer fans innovative ways to connect with their favourite teams and players.