Eyes Women

NEW YORK is trying a different approach this holiday season. Instead of tapping into its predominantly male audience, the National Football League’s e-commerce arm will go after female shoppers, who make up the majority of the site’s business this time of year.

While the online shopping demographic usually skews 70 percent male on, around Christmas the numbers flip, said Bob O’Keefe, who oversees NFL Direct, the sports organization’s database of 25 million fans. Last year, 60 percent of the site’s shoppers were women during the holidays, per the company.

“When we looked at where the growth was coming from, the holiday portion of it was growing at a faster rate than the non-holiday portion,” O’Keefe said.’s sales were up 46 percent overall in 2007, but sales during the holidays (November-December) increased 100 percent, per the NFL. Company research showed that the seasonal spike in sales came from gift givers, leading the NFL to alter its marketing message.

New ads via BBDO in New York, reflect the change. A spot now running on major networks shows a male sports fan opening a gift from his wife. The man digs into his present so eagerly that he cuts his index finger and a green and yellow foamy substance oozes out — mimicking the official colors of his favorite team. He then pulls a jersey (of the same color) out of the box and hugs his wife. A voiceover concludes: “This holiday season, give them what they bleed for.” The TV spot’s debut on Sunday resulted in a 260 percent spike in online sales for the day.

O’Keefe said the spot marks the first year the has had a real holiday message. Past holiday ads usually featured the standard “shop at the” spot, with a brief seasonal tag at the end. The new campaign, which includes a mix of radio, print and 4 million catalogs mailed out this week, carries a “hinting” element along with it, which is meant to draw in female shoppers who might not have considered purchasing sports merchandise for their male counterparts, O’Keefe added.

Other elements of the campaign include gift card distribution at retail outlets and a partnership with Costco, where shoppers can score a  $100 holiday gift card for $80.

The’s biggest advertising push came in September of this year, when the NFL spent $1.3 million on measured media (excluding online), per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.