Pete Rozelle: Developing andCommunicating the Sports Brand The International Journal of Sports Communication by John A. Fortunato A paper by Chris Ostrow
Who is Pete Rozelle?• The Sporting News magazine most powerful person in sports for the 20th century. Rozelle was the former NFL commissioner of the NFL from 1960 to 1989. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1985. He was largely given credit as the visionary for developing the economic model for professional sports leagues.
• Time Magazine recognized Rozelle as one of “the builders and titans of the 20th century.”• Voted Number one on the Sporting News’s list of the most powerful people in sports for the twentieth century.
What Did Rozelle do for the NFL?• It was Rozelle’s idea to sell the league’s television broadcast rights as a collective entity to the highest bidding network, then have all teams share that revenue equally to help ensure competitive balance.• In addition to developing an economic model that improved the brand quality of the NFL, Rozelle should be recognized as a pioneer in applying branding principles to the sports industry.
Main Focus• The following information I will provide to you in this presentation will illustrate how Rozelle defined the current sports brand as more than a game, but included many strategic communication initiatives.• Rozelle increased the NFL’s brand awareness and fostered its brand image, thus increasing the league’s brand equity and ultimately fan loyalty.• Rozelle’s actions helped transform the NFL and continue to influence the entire sports industry as we know it today.
Brand Quality• Rozelle understood for a sports league to thrive it needed competitive balance with every team being equipped with the same economic tools and fans in every city believing that it’s team, if managed properly could win a championship. He convinced owners to share revenues of television.• This revenue sharing policy that helped ensure league wide competitive balance and enabled the NFL to grow. This equal sharing of national television contracts is now the standard economic business model for all major sports league.
• Prior to Rozelle no other sports commissioner had based so much emphasis on public relations and marketing.• Pete was instrumental in developing the Super Bowl and transforming it into the premier television event.• In addition with his belief that football would be a huge success in prime time, he co- created the revolutionary idea of Monday Night Football.• Rozelle expanded the league from 12 to 28 teams.
• In the 64-65 regular season Rozelle used a purse bid system. Where each network would submit its best bid in a sealed envelope and then all bids would be revealed and the highest bidding network would be awarded the contract.• CBS Won the bid with $ 28.2 million an increase of $365,000 per year they had been earning. This guaranteed no team would lose money.
Brand Awareness• The biggest promotional communication vehicle of the NFL brand resulted from the merger agreement of the NFL and AFL in 1966 Super Bowl. Previously the Super Bowl was at the NFL team’s home stadium. He also wanted two weeks between each league’s championship to build up the game in the media.• Today the Super Bowl is the greatest spectacle in American Sports. Super Bowl 42 was the second most watched program in television history, with 97.5 viewers.
• Rozelle shopped the idea of a prime time package of NFL games to CBS and NBC, but neither wanted to preempt their succesful prime time lineups. This opened up the door for Roone Arledge to take the gamble and air prime time games on ABC. The first Monday Night Football Game was played between the Jets and the Browns in 1969
• It was also Rozelle’s idea to work with ESPN in getting the network to revise the NFL draft. Rozelle understood the promotional value of the draft in introducing the player coming into the league and wanted to create excitement for the fans. In 2007 the NFL draft had an average rating of 5.0 over the first four and a half hours of ESPN’s broadcast of the event
Brand Image• Rozelle developed several initiatives to foster the NFL’s image. He helped foster ideas such as NFL charities, NFL Films, and the creation of the NFL Hall of Fame. He also moved NFL offices to New York to be closer to enable better contacts with pivotal television and corporate sponsor executives. Ahead of his time Rozelle implemented plans to internationalize the NFL. Today following his lead in understanding the value of television with the creation the NFL Network in 2003.
Conclusion• I think that Rozelle’s idea of making the game not just a game was brilliant. He really captured the idea of Spectator Services such as the contest, the spectacle and the third place as in chapter 1 of the textbook.• I think as sports managers it is important to recognize the importance of Rozelle as a pioneer and defined the current sports brand that we know today.
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