Who Gets "It"? NFL Players Association Doesn’t

I have never accused myself of, nor misled myself about, being in tune with the strategic rationale of some marketers because I wasn't in those meetings, but I simply can’t explain the new campaign for the NFL Players Association and the most recent bind-in in this week’s Brandweek.

Yes, I understand that the NFLPA is trying to re-position itself away from being the protectors of the rights of the commonly perceived overpaid, unsophisticated and off-the-field, one step away from jail NFL player.

Yes, I understand that parading sophisticated, driven and family-focused players is a strategy worth considering.

Yes, I understand that there are plenty of uplifting stories that should be told.

And yes, I understand that a “corporate” branding campaign is not meant to sell directly, but to shape perception.

But no, I do not understand what they want us to do with this obvious fallback on the few gems that should out-weight the many transgressions of the rest.

And why, of all places, would they advertise in Brandweek? Am I to now consider these players as spokesmen? As a changing of the guard? Or as a new direction the NFLPA is going in? All so that I will…invest in what?

To me, it’s just a bunch of ad-speak hype that has fallen on deaf ears. Prime example: Plaxico Burress shooting himself in the thigh with an unregistered gun at a nightclub.

I much prefer the paid advertisements in Sports Illustrated that show players “doing”: going to hospitals, schools, starting foundations, and the like.

These NFLPA ads show nothing but presumptuous attitude that do nothing for me the reader.

Points to take away:
1) Have a fully definable goal for every communications piece

2) Give me a reason to trust you, or at the very least, care about you the “entity”

3) Give me a reason use, and a reason to buy, whatever it is you are selling

Those 3 points are rules to live by, and the very first time I read David Ogilvy's words to that effect, I was sold. So obvious, but so overlooked (just watch any 9 out of 10 TV ads and you'll know exactly what I mean.) It is what I tell every single one of my clients, and if I don't follow through, I invite them to fire me and my agency. Because if I am lazy selling their products and services, I deserve to be replaced.

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2 Comments

  • robert quashie

    Effectiveness of the ad creative aside, you seemed to have missed the point that the NFLPA's role as a labor union is to raise and protect the earning power of it's membership. One of their key audiences is brand managers who higher players as spokespersons. The NFL, the league, usually takes the lead in marketing the players to the general public, either at the national or local market/team level. Outside of the Players Inc., logo and brand, few consumers have any interaction or intersection with the NFLPA. That is until they hit the news during labor negotiations -- and that's the realm of PR, not advertising.

  • robert quashie

    Effectiveness of the ad creative aside, you seemed to have missed the point that the NFLPA's role as a labor union is to raise and protect the earning power of it's membership. One of their key audiences is brand managers who hire players as spokespersons. The NFL, the league, usually takes the lead in marketing the players to the general public, either at the national or local market/team level. Outside of the Players Inc., logo and brand, few consumers have any interaction or intersection with the NFLPA. That is until they hit the news during labor negotiations -- and that's the realm of PR, not advertising.