NFL Tells Captain Morgan to Walk the Plank

When Philadelphia Eagles’ tight end Brent Celek scored a touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys earlier this month, his end zone celebration set off a marketing firestorm.

Celek struck a “Captain Morgan” pose because the rum company was offering to donate $10,000 to the Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund every time a player performed the pose after scoring a TD. But the NFL immediately stepped in and threatened a “significant” penalty to any future player that participates in the now short-lived Captain Morgan campaign.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told Yahoo! Sports: “A company can’t pay a player to somehow promote it’s product on the field.”

Fitness Information Technology contacted Dr. David Stotlar, a professor of sport marketing at the University of Northern Colorado, to get his perspective on the issue. Stotlar authors Developing Successful Sport Marketing Plans, 3rd Edition, Developing Successful Sport Sponsorship Plans, 3rd Edition, and is a co-author of Fundamentals of Sport Marketing, 3rd Edition.

Q: Would this be a textbook definition of ambush marketing, as the NFL labeled it in its response?

Stotlar: Clearly an example of ambush marketing. The worst thing is that they are enlisting others to help them achieve that fraud.

Q: What are your thoughts about the NFL’s reaction to the Captain Morgan campaign?

Stotlar: I think it’s a fitting reaction. If you stop the players from participating, you can take away the stage. Ambush marketing is completely out of control. If a company wants to contribute to NFL Charities, there is an appropriate way to do that.

Q: Even though the NFL is squashing this campaign, would you say it has been a success in terms of bringing exposure to Captain Morgan?

Stotlar: Not so much. Some say that any publicity is a good thing, but unethical behavior seldom has lasting positive effects.

Q: Another campaign that does have the NFL’s blessing and has been very popular the last couple of years is the Coors Light mock press conference commercials. How would you rate the success and popularity of this marketing campaign?

Stotlar: I think the novelty is wearing off. They were funny and interesting in the beginning, but it’s getting a little old and predictable.

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