Tide Suits Up With the NFL

Procter & Gamble brand cleans up with the league’s 32 teams

Procter & Gamble’s Tide is looking to clean up with fans of the National Football League, inking a multiyear sponsorship with the Shield and its 32 franchises.

The deal goes into effect at the start of the 2012 NFL campaign.

This season marks the third in P&G’s five-year national sponsorship of the league. Under terms of the original deal, P&G was given the option to align one of its brands with all 32 teams. (Only Gatorade enjoys a similar national/franchise sponsorship package.)

While this marks the first season Tide will become an active presence around the NFL, the brand was written into the original P&G contract. Other participating P&G brands include Head & Shoulders, Febreze, Vicks, Crest and Old Spice.

Financial terms of Tide’s deal with the 32 NFL teams were not disclosed. And while P&G keeps a tight lid on the terms of its 2009 pact with the league, analysts estimate the CPG giant pays north of $100 million for the privilege of aligning its brands with the NFL.

In August, consumers will begin to see specially marked packages of Tide bearing the NFL’s official heraldic logo. Moreover, the individual team sponsorships provide the opportunity for Tide to use franchise logos and trademarks on its distinctive orange packaging. (In other words, fans in Pittsburgh are likely to see the three hypocycloids of the Steelers’ logo displayed prominently in their grocer’s detergent aisle.)

Asked if Tide would develop 30-second spots around individual NFL teams, Sundar Raman, North American fabric care marketing director at P&G, said he is not at liberty to discuss any upcoming media executions. “Whatever we do, we want the creative to be holistic across all media—print, television, digital,” Raman said.

If previous P&G efforts are any indication, TV is likely to play an integral part of Tide’s media mix. In 2010, P&G planned a far-reaching campaign around heroically tressed Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, who serves as the spokesman for Head & Shoulders.

Along with a number of national 30-second spots, P&G developed a “first-person tackler” Web game and a micro site (TroysHair.com). Head & Shoulders also took out a $1 million insurance policy on Polamalu’s hair through Lloyd’s of London.

Tide is the most-advertised household product brand, accounting for around 8 percent of all measured media spend in the category. Parent P&G is far and away the nation’s biggest advertiser, investing $2.95 billion in 2011—$1 million more than runner-up AT&T, per Kantar Media.

All told, TV accounted for 58 percent of P&G’s overall media spend, or $1.72 billion. Magazines represented about a third of the company’s 2011 ad expenditures.

The Tide deal represents an opportunity to get the brand in front of the millions of women who watch the NFL every week. According to Nielsen, women make up one-third of the deliveries for all nationally televised NFL games.

“For us, the NFL’s growing female fan base played a big role in developing the Tide sponsorship,” Raman said. “It allows us to tap into America’s passion for the NFL and fan loyalty toward their home teams.”

According to an Adweek/Harris poll conducted at the start of the 2011 NFL season, 64 percent of all Americans say they watch the NFL.

Tide enjoys a home-field advantage of sorts, given its preeminence among NFL equipment managers. (Even before the deal was announced, Tide was the preferred detergent in 29 of the 32 team locker rooms.)

Ed Wagner, the equipment manager of the Super Bowl champion New York Giants, says he uses Tide in tackling 5,510 pounds of laundry he’s responsible for every week.

“The players are issued two jerseys and a pair of pants and, for the most part, that should get them through the whole season,” Wagner said. “So you can see why the detergent we use is so important.”

The NFL deal comes as P&G finalizes its plans to activate 30 brands in and around the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. The company will sponsor the Winter and Summer Games through 2020.

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