Hi, everybody! Stevie Smilemore here, your new head of NFL
marketing, sending you E-mail greetings and letting you know
that as we launch the '96 season we've got a whole new
optimistic 'tude, dudes!
From now on, everything is going to be positive! O.K., O.K., I
admit, the NFL has been kind of a tough sell lately. I mean, we
all know that we're trying to market a two-team league
here--after all, Dallas and San Francisco have won the last four
Super Bowls, they've got most of the exciting players, and their
owners have the most money. That leaves the rest of the league
flatter than a diet pizza. True.
And, yes, it's not exactly a marketing man's dream that we'll
soon have teams in Nashville, Jacksonville and Charlotte but
none in L.A., which has more people than those three cities
combined. But that's O.K., because we've got a whole new
marketing plan for this season. It's called GO WITH IT!
Let me show you how it works, O.K.?
For instance: So what if we've had five teams pack up and leave
for new cities in the last 12 years? We won't try to hide it.
We're going to...Go with It! Our new leaguewide catchphrase:
THE NFL: A VERY MOVING EXPERIENCE!
The Giants and the Jets won a total of eight games last year,
fewer than 13 single teams. You think football is dead in New
York? Maybe so, but...Go with It! For example: You Jets
people--trumpet the fact that you just spent $25 million on
rigatoni-armed Neil O'Donnell and plan to pay another $19
million to No. 1 draft choice Keyshawn Johnson. So put the two
of them together in magazine ads standing in front of a bank
vault, with your new team slogan: THE NEW YORK JETS. WE'RE
SPENDING A WHOLE LOT MORE TO SUCK THIS YEAR! Yes?
You say things look bleak in Houston? That the Oilers are
practically in Nashville already, that crowds at the Astrodome
this year are predicted to be in the teens and that owner Bud
Adams is about as popular as the electric car? No problem!...
GO WITH IT! How about a poster with a guy stretched out in his
own section of the stands, his feet up on the chair in front of
him, his arms slopped over both armrests. And then your new
slogan: WE'RE THE HOUSTON OILERS. IF YOU YELL AT OUR COACH,
CHANCES ARE VERY GOOD HE'LL HEAR YOU!
And how's this for you Cincinnati Bengals out there? DON'T LOOK
AT US. WE DON'T EVEN KNOW MARGE SCHOTT!
Oakland Raiders, try this: TWENTY YEARS AND NOTHING'S CHANGED.
NOT THE CITY. NOT THE ATTITUDE. NOT THE OWNER'S WARDROBE!
In New Orleans you've got Jim Mora, who has the longest tenure
of any NFL coach even though he's never won a playoff game. So
...GO WITH IT! How about THE 1996 NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: HOW MUCH
MORA THIS CAN YOU STAND?
In Detroit you've got your own beleaguered coach, right? No
problem. Just hook up Wayne Fontes with Pepto-Bismol for a TV
spot. Have Fontes lying in bed, his wife asleep next to him and
the clock reading 3 a.m. He's tossing and turning and you keep
throwing those spinning newspapers at the audience that say
LIONS OWNER FORD GIVES FONTES ULTIMATUM AND FORD: PLAYOFFS OR
ELSE! Fontes reaches for a bottle of Pepto, takes a huge glug,
sighs happily and goes back to sleep. Then you hit 'em with your
slogan: WORRIED ABOUT GETTING THE PINK SLIP? GET THE PINK STUFF.
PEPTO SAYS, GO LIONS! For a follow-up campaign you promote the
defense: THE DETROIT LIONS AND PEPTO-BISMOL: BOTH STOP THE RUNS!
You people in Tampa Bay have a pretty tough cookie. But we think
we've got it. You haven't had a winning season in 14 years, but
my mom always told me if you can't say anything nice, don't say
anything at all. So here's the new ad campaign: THE TAMPA BAY
BUCS. OUR COACHES' SHIRTS ARE NICELY PRESSED!
How 'bout up in Beantown? That Christian Peter thing was a
tricky little pill to swallow. You know, where the New England
front office said it was giving up draft rights to Peter, who has
had numerous run-ins with the law, because "we did not have
complete information regarding Christian Peter" at draft time.
A publicist's nightmare, right? Nah, just...GO WITH IT! LIKE:
THE NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS. WE DID NOT HAVE COMPLETE INFORMATION
REGARDING OUR NEW MOTTO AT PRESS TIME!
Well, that's all for now! Remember, if we just stay positive, we
can do it, people! (If not, it's back to my old job with the
British Beef Council.) Ciao!
COLOR ILLUSTRATIONS: ILLUSTRATION BY N. ASCENCIOS [Drawing of man speaking to a group of football players]