Ahead of the Giants-Packers game in London, the English Premier League looked to find some brand ambassadors in two of the NFL’s biggest stars: Aaron Rodgers and Saquon Barkley.
Roger Goodell desired to continue the NFL’s relationship with the UK ever since the final days of the Europa League, an experiment that never fully took off but served as both a testing ground and pseudo minor league for the NFL. But out of this failure came the international series in London (and Mexico City), bringing teams across the pond during the regular season. What started as a single game each year has morphed into three.
On Sunday, the New York Giants face the Green Bay Packers at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in North London. Shockingly, it’s the first time since the start of the international series that two teams with winning records will square off in London. The games have long been plagued by mediocrity, with many smaller market teams making the trip over the years. But this lack of major franchises hasn’t stopped fans from coming out in droves to watch American football. The games have historically sold out fast, with the vast majority of attendees being native Londoners and not Americans or expatriates.
While the primary aim of the international series is to grow the NFL brand across Europe, the English Premier League has taken the opportunity to do some guerilla marketing of its own.
Aaron Rodgers champions Manchester City, while Saquon Barkley receives custom jersey from Tottenham Spurs
In the summer, Lambeau Field played host to a friendly match between FC Bayern Munich and Manchester City. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is an avid City supporter and met up with City’s star forward Erling Haaland before the game to exchange jerseys.
Not looking to be outdone and also gain an NFL ambassador of their own, the Tottenham Hotspurs tried to get one of the game’s brightest young stars into their flashy new 2022 kits. While attending press events on Saturday, the Spurs gave Giants RB Saquon Barkley some gear to don back in New York.
While the NFL remains the gold standard among professional athletics leagues, the English Premier League has grown rapidly over the past couple of decades. It has similarly expanded its presence in the US with TV deals, merchandising, and its own slate of offseason exhibition games to draw out American supporters.
These friendly exchanges between Rodgers-Manchester City and Barkley-Tottenham are obviously fun for fans and great marketing gimmicks, but the NFL and EPL are each in the business of growing their global footprints. And cross-sport marketing to new fanbases will continue to be an important lever for both leagues to pull.