- In an advertising policy shift, the National Football League (NFL) will allow distilled spirits brands to advertise during games starting this season, according to a company memo reported on by The Wall Street Journal,
- Airtime will be limited by the NFL to no more than four 30-second ads each game, with an additional restriction of two spots in any quarter or during halftime. The NFL's network partners, including ESPN, Fox, CBS and NBC, will also be allowed to run two spots in pregame and postgame programs.
- The NFL also dictated creative elements for the ads must not target underage consumers, that the ads can't have a football theme and that they must include a "prominent social responsibility message."
The NFL is well-known for its association and sponsorships with major beer brands but the league has, to date, steered clear of promoting hard liquor given how many of its fans are young, per the Journal. Loosening its advertising policy now suggests the sports organization might be attempting to pull in new audiences who fall outside of its suds on Sunday staples. However, the limited media space and tight creative guidelines for spirits advertisers point to the policy change being very much an experiment that might not stick if the ads don't provide a tangible bump or other benefits.
Opening up advertising options to spirits brands also fits into a broader trend developing in sports media over the last 10 years as leagues look to increase revenue, per the Journal. Distilled spirits is an attractive category, with brands having spent around $411 million on U.S ads in 2016, according to Kantar Media data cited by the publication.
The NFL continues to attract millions of eyeballs, making it appealing for major brands, but has also seen ratings declines in recent seasons, which some attribute to cord cutting and the growing number of alternative digital video services. Beyond expanding to more categories of advertisers, the sports organization is also eyeing different screens to present its content, recently signing a deal to stream 10 Thursday Night Football games with Amazon Prime for the 2017 season.