Players INC, the for-profit marketing arm of the National Football League players' union, has hired Think New Ideas, New York, as its interactive agency of record. In so doing, Think will do for Players INC what it did for the Major League Baseball Players Association: build a Web site that generates exposure for NFL athletes and, equally as important, revenue streams in the form of advertising and content syndication packages.
But unlike its baseball counterpart, Players INC will launch its new site next month with significant sponsor support, primarily from Wilmington, Del.-based MBNA Corp.
MLBPA had auspicious sponsorship plans for its site, Bigleaguers.com, which was to be leveraged to attract sponsorship deals, especially with technology and Internet companies. In July, a full year after its launch, Think struck a distribution deal with community site Tripod and its parent, Lycos, to give Bigleaguers.com assistance attracting visitors and advertisers.
Players INC executive vice president and chief operating officer, Pat Allen, said she is interested in negotiating similar distribution deals, but added no such talks have begun. Ron Bloom, chief executive officer at Think, said a big priority for Players INC is to sell syndicated content--much of which is reports from the players themselves--to a variety of sports or entertainment-themed sites. Think will also sell sponsorship and ad package deals plus design, maintain and host the site.
Players INC was formed in 1994 with a focus on cultivating corporate sponsorships for the NFL Players Association's retired and active players. An NFL players site, with some advertiser support, was launched three years ago that was hosted and maintained by CBS SportsLine. This year, Players INC budgeted to expand its Web presence to give its players more visibility off the field. "This is a great avenue to highlight the players as personalities," Allen said.