NFL: Pretty Major Branding Troubles Ahead

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By now, I think we all can agree that the NFL has a branding problemSince the Super Bowl, there have been 31 active players arrested.
So it’s more than putting out a poor product last season (can you say replacement referees?), the inane sideline reporting and pink slapped on literally everything; not to mention the ever increasing violence on and off the field. Too many “star” players have made headlines for bad behavior. And they still play — are lauded as heroes.
The latest figures have the league generating an astonishing $9.5 billion in revenue (equally good TV numbers) during 2012, and yet there’s trouble below that glowing surface. Those who named football as their favorite sport dropped to 34% (from 36%) in 2012. In case you’re interested, the next closest in sport in terms of earnings is Major League Baseball at $7.5 billion, interestingly once America’s favorite sport.
Behind the big earnings is a far from certain future. The numbers of kids who are taking part in tackle football has been dropping about 5% a year for the last 3-4 years. Reports of serious injuries to younger players aren’t helping things. In the end, this will give the NFL a smaller talent pool from which to draw.
Then there’s the 1,500 ex players who are suing the NFL in federal court. The claim is that the league concealed the risk of brain trauma caused by playing the game from players. The NFL responded with advertising and PR campaigns to position the league as proactive, positive and transparent about key issues. Since the Super Bowl, there have been 28 players arrested, so we see how that’s working out for them.
Of course there’s a great lesson for small businesses in all this. Ask yourself… Are there clients, employees or processes that put your brand at risk? What are you doing about this? How’s the quality of your product or service? You need to ask these kind of hard questions and answer truthfully.
Read reviews from customers, check Facebook posts and monitor tweets or YouTube comments. It’s smart to google your company name or the name of your product on a regular basis so you can spot trouble. If your problem is severe, there are firms that can help you fix things — get the right story right up front.
Remember, America loves a second act… so nothing, no matter how bad, has to be forever.
If you’re dealing with a sudden PR disaster, there are also some key things you can do. Be sincere. Be proactive in making reparations for the mistake. Be respectful of heated emotions and raw feelings… stay humble. You can’t turn back time, but you can learn from your mistakes, make changes that help your business (and your brand) go forward.

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