By Barry Janoff
April 27, 2013: In past seasons, the first photos of NFL rookies wearing their new uniforms usually came from trading card companies.
Not so this year.
Although NFL trading card partner Panini America did send out photos of players who were selected in the first round of the draft on April 25, showing them holding jerseys from their respective new teams, it was Procter & Gamble's Tide that created and shared images of most of the 32 players actually wearing their new uniforms.
The first to hit social media and media outlets was Eric Fisher, drafted No. 1 overall out of Central Michigan by the Kansas City Chiefs. Tide signed Fisher and his mom, Heidi, to an endorsement deal just prior to the draft.
Fisher kept fans in the loop via Twitter even as Tide was using the social media destination to share its draft-related messages.
“My life has revolved around the teams I’ve played football for and the colors I’ve worn, which is why my mom and I are so excited to partner with Tide, the proud keeper of your NFL team’s colors,” Fisher said in a statement, referring to the brand's NFL Draft tag line. “It’s hard to believe that my journey has led to being a few days away from hopefully becoming an NFL player. I am so excited at the prospect of wearing an NFL team’s colors.”
Fisher's draft night photo was soon followed by that of Luck Joeckel, taken No. 2 overall out of Texas A&M and shown wearing his Jacksonville Jaguars uniform.
Joeckel himself hit it pretty big in the endorsement deal even before joining the Jaguars. He appeared in an ESPN pre-draft spot that also supported the upcoming release of Iron Man 3 and inked an alliance with Tide P&G siblings Crest and Oral-B for a "Go Pro" campaign.
In all, only four of the 32 first round players drafted were not placed in their new uniforms by what Tide called "a team of designers [who] on draft night" created the images using real-time digital art.
Not long after, Tide produced and was sharing a poster with images of all 32 players, headlined with the text, "Congratulations to the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft." And then, referring to the new uniforms, the poster reads, "They're not just colors."
Procter & Gamble has been an NFL marketing partner since 2009, with its brands designated as the "official locker room products" of the NFL. Last year, Tide enhanced its alliance with the league by signing a marketing deal with each of the NFL's 32 teams. PepsiCo's Gatorade is the only other brand with that official designation.
Last season, Tide support its alliance by creating two-to-three minute mini-documentaries, “Evolution of Colors," to showcase how each of the NFL teams got their colors.
This is also the start of P&G’s fifth year as the “official locker room products” of the NFL, which includes Tide as well as Duracell, Gillette, Head & Shoulders and Old Spice.
Tide supported its draft-related position as "the proud keeper of your NFL team’s colors," with dedicated Facebook and Twitter sites, the latter with the hashtag, #AboutOurColors.
Panini America created artwork for many of the players drafted, but they were generic in nature. picturing them on cards from its Score division in nondescript uniforms and each tagged, "2013 Rookie." The only differences among all the cards was the player's name, position and a superimposed helmet from their respective new team.
Quarterback Geno Smith, taken in the second round out of West Virginia by the New York Jets, already has a deal with Panini America to appear in marketing and on packaging for the 2013 Score Football release, scheduled for May.
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