NFL & Nike TV Spot Front’s Female-Focused 2013 Initiative

Rolling out on 5 September and leveraging the start of the 2013 football season, a new NFL apparel campaign from Nike targets women.


The TVC features women in NFL jerseys aggressively grabbing life: skateboarding, dancing, carrying briefcases and babies, riding bikes through New York City, fire eating, and flexing.


It begins with a voiceover motivational talk from Baltimore Ravens’ Super Bowl winning coach Jeff Harbaugh and then morphs into a female empowerment message.


It features lines such as ‘Everyone’s talking about what we couldn’t do, what we wouldn’t do and what we shouldn’t do. It doesn’t matter what they say. Find your own look’.



The glamorous, self-determining approach and tough imagery is part of strategic move away from the traditional ‘pink it and shrink it’ approach to women’s sports apparel marketing.


September also saw women’s magazine Marie Claire run a 16-page insert guide to the NFL, courtesy of the league, called ‘The Savvy Girl’s Guide to Football’, alongside five full-page ads for apparel from the Nike NFL’s women’s collection.


While the editorial team at Marie Claire produced the content, the guide reflects the evolving and increasingly collaborative relationship between the editorial and business facets of consumer publishing.


The feature’s content ranged from Super Bowl party hosting advice (oven-roasted kale as a chili topping) and $685 NFL high-tops to pair with a Tom Brady jersey, to a primer on football terminology and a guide to ‘quarterback bromances’.


Actress Minka Kelly, who many readers will know from her role in NBC high school football series ‘Friday Night Lights’, appears on the front of the main magazine and another ad page for the NFL appears in the main issue itself (as well as the supplement).


Additional NFL apparel ads will appear in Marie Claire’s October issue too.


A further element of the initiative sees Marie Claire distribute 15,000 additional copies of the insert in the NFL’s “style lounge” retail areas at stadiums.


The program also includes a digital component with dedicated tweets.


Both the TV commercial (one of a series of new female-focused spots running during game weeks) and the advertorial insert and print work are part of a joint umbrella strategy from the NFL and its brand partners aimed at expanding its marketing to female fans.


The tagline for both the print and TV ads is ‘Together We Make Football’.


The NFL and Nike are also working with seven other women’s magazines such as VogueCosmopolitan and Us Weekly.


In addition to the advertising, this initiative also sees expanded merchandise offerings and pop-up clothes boutiques at stadiums.




The focus now is on creating replica jerseys identical to the men’s except for the cut.


‘With every campaign and every product, the league seeks to target women without condescending to them. Never to patronize,’ says NFL Consumer Products Director Rhiannon Madden. ‘It’s made for women, to fit women, for women to feel good in.’


‘About four years ago, there was a push, recognizing how many women fans we have, that we need to speak to them,’ says NFL Brand & Creative VP Jaime Weston. ‘And while they follow the game like every other fan, like our male fans, they do want to be spoken to in a little bit different way.’



In 2013 this has been further supported by new women’s NFL accessories such as ‘fanicure’ NFL franchise nail polish packages (see case study).


Added to this is the distinctly less macho tactic based around the concept of ‘homegating’ (as opposed to ‘tailgating’,


The aim is to enhance the experience of watching the big game at home, to reach fans who come to the NFL indirectly through the social gatherings that NFL Sunday games inspire – a group that skews female.


This sees the NFL market branded merchandise ranging from toasters, wine bottle holders and cheese boards, to salt-and-pepper shakers.


The NFL lays claim to 185 million Americans as fans – around 60% percent of the US population.


About 45% of whom are women (who also include one third of the NFL’s 90 million so called ‘avid’ fans).


Reaching the next NFL fan segment, the so called ‘casual fans’ (who are mostly female), is a key plank of the league’s current strategy to further broaden its already hugely impressive base.




Nike Women’s’ NFL Website



Nike NFL Website



Nike Website



Marie Claire Website








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