To help its sport grow meaningfully beyond the United States, the NFL, creative partners 72andSunny and players including Justin Jefferson and Saquon Barkley are handing off American football to the world in their latest Super Bowl ad.
The National Football League and 72andSunny have spent their yearslong partnership expanding the league’s reach and influence by embracing two ideas: A “helmets off” strategy that allowed a more personal marketing relationship between players and fans and the notion that “football is for everyone.” If Super Bowl viewers wanted to know who “everyone” was, they simply had to see who was running with the football.
Last year, the league handed the ball in its Big Game ad to champion Mexican flag football quarterback Diana Flores. Her run took her to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the epicenter of marketing at Cannes and the NFL Honors to present the first ever flag football players of the year. Oh, and it helped make flag football an Olympic sport at the 2028 games in Los Angeles.
It handed the ball to to young, diverse U.S. fans, to frontline and essential workers during the pandemic and to a generation that may know its players best through gaming. For its 100th anniversary, the NFL put the ball in high school football player Samantha Gordon’s hands.
“When we all started working with this brand, it was unclear who would football belong to: Is it the NFL, is it organizations?” said Glenn Cole, founder and chairman of 72andSunny. “We’re simply saying it belongs to anyone who plays or loves it.”
Since 2022, the NFL’s Global Markets Program has attempted to minimize the “National” in the league’s name and bring its game to the world. It’s given 21 of its teams access to 14 international markets including Mexico, Canada, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, China, the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, France, Spain, Switzerland, Ireland and Ghana. It’s announced its first regular season game in Brazil for next season and a 2025 matchup in Madrid, but it selected Ghana as the setting for its latest Super Bowl spot.