Making Football Relevant in the Land of Futbol
The World League of American Football was established as a joint venture between the NFL and Fox Broadcasting to introduce and promote American-style football outside the U.S. with the goal of marketing the sport through media and licensed goods.
Though the League originally had teams in Europe, Canada and the U.S., the league structure evolved to include teams exclusively in Europe. With this new market focus, the NFL sought to improve the marketing success of the World League by developing an intelligent brand and positioning strategy to combat the popularity of European football—soccer.
Assessing the unique needs of the European audience and competitive market, the positioning strategy defined the brand as a broader, richer entertainment experience, catering to the entire family. “American football” encompasses pre-game barbecues, tailgating, half-time shows, and even post-game entertainment, differing markedly from the “soccer” experience which is largely focused on the game. Further, violence was a routine part of “soccer” games, making it an unsafe event for children.
After careful analysis, a name change to “NFL Europe” was implemented. The World League name and identity had little brand equity, while the NFL brand had strong awareness among the target audiences and enhanced the credibility of the “product.” However, the brand was distinguished from the American NFL league, which is geographically and professionally distinct.
The new brand expression leverages the familiar shield shape and typeface of the American NFL, but distinguishes itself through region specific colors, symbols (stars), and nomenclature.
Paid attendance increased 9% in the first season after program launch.