By Barry Janoff, Executive Editor
October 15, 2009: Pepsi Max has been named title sponsor of the NFL International Series, which next will be held Oct. 25 at Wembley Stadium in London featuring the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New England Patriots. This sponsorship is part of a multi-year agreement giving PepsiCo marketing rights and the title sponsorship of the International Series games. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Pepsi Max replaces Bridgestone, which was title sponsor of the International Series in 2007 and 2008.
Pepsi Max's sponsorship deal will include field-level brand exposure on perimeter LED boards, stadium signage, videoboard features and pouring rights at the pregame tailgate party, among other activation plans. Assets will be shared between Pepsi Max and sibling Gatorade, which recently launched a campaign in the U.K. with track & field superstar Usain Bolt.
Pepsi Max and Gatorade also will have print ads in the game day program along with other NFL International Series partners, including Monster.com, Canon, GMC, Reebok, Marriott and Visa.
“We are pleased to welcome Pepsi to the International Series and to have Pepsi Max serve as the title sponsor for this year’s game,” said Mark Waller, CMO for the NFL. “For a third consecutive year, a capacity crowd will be at Wembley Stadium to experience all of the excitement our sport has to offer. We are looking forward to another memorable event, as the International Series has become one of the most eagerly anticipated dates on the NFL calendar.”
The NFL has given more importance to the International Series over the past couple of years, expanding its office in the U.K. and launching a dedicated Web site. The 2009 game is virtually sold out, with 20,000 tickets bought in the first seven minutes of availability, the NFL said. Wembley Stadium holds about 86,000 for NFL games.
CBS will broadcast the game in the U.S. (1 PM ET); Sky Sports will air the game live in the U.K., with same-day highlights airing on BBC-TV. A live radio broadcast will be on BBC Radio 5Live.
Pepsi Max and CBS recently teamed to promote CBS' fall lineup using an interactive videoplayer from Americhip, Los Angeles, inserted with a co-branded ad that appeared in Entertainment Weekly's Sept. 18 issue.
Pepsi Max began building buzz for the 2009 International Series Game in September with the launch of NFL UK presented by Pepsi Max on U.K. station Five, which presented NFL highlights, interviews and commentary. Alistair Kirkwood, managing director of NFLUK, said at the time, "[NFL UK presented by Pepsi Max] is a very exciting project and we are thrilled with the commitment Five is showing to the NFL. Our sport first developed here as a result of shows like this that showcase the best of the NFL, along with presenting an insight into the league and its many and varied characters."
The NFL International Series is now approaching its third annual game at London's Wembley Stadium, and fourth overall including the 2005 game between the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. Bridgestone was title sponsor in 2007 (when the New York Giants defeated the Miami Dolphins, 13-10) and in 2008 (when the New Orleans Saints defeated the San Diego Chargers, 37-32). There was no International Series game played in 2006.
"Bridgestone was the title sponsor [of the NFL International Series] for the past two years and were very pleased with the results, [but] we did not renew this year," said Phil Pacsi, vp-consumer marketing U.S. & Canada Consumer Tire Sales Division, Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations. Bridgestone is still an active NFL partner as the league's "official tire" and will have new spots airing during Super Bowl XLIV.
The NFL is considering expanding the series to two games per season and has also been considering playing Super Bowls overseas as part of its commitment to expand globally. "The NFL International Series seems to get better and better each year with more people following it," said Robert Tuchman, president and founder of TSE Sports & Entertainment, a division of Premiere Corporate Events, New York. Looking at the NFL's global plan, Tuchman said, "Three hundred million Chinese watched the Super Bowl last year. More Chinese watched the Super Bowl than Americans. That is pretty telling."