NFL Gone Global: Top 5 Fan Activations

NFL Gone Global: Top 5 Fan Activations

The NFL’s Global Markets Program (GMP). First launched in 2022, the GMP provides teams with the marketing, commercialisation and fan engagement rights to new international markets – allowing teams to build brand awareness and fandom overseas. 

Earlier this year, the NFL announced an expansion to the program – with 25 teams now competing for fan bases across 19 different countries. In an attempt to monopolise their respective markets, NFL teams are known to host ‘fan activations’. In other words, events dedicated to activating fandom. From watch parties to music festivals, Decyfr dissects five of the best ‘fan activations’ by GMP teams in various countries.

‘Patriots Haus’ in Germany

‘Patriots Haus’ was an exhilarating three-day extravaganza ahead of New England’s clash with the Indianapolis Colts in Frankfurt last season. Catered to Patriots fans, this event offered a unique opportunity to marvel at all six Super Bowl trophies, purchase exclusive memorabilia and meet German Patriots legend, Sebastian Vollmer – who delighted fans with autographs and tales of the Patriots dynasty.

After suffering a 10-6 loss to the Colts last year in Germany, New England’s European fan base is primed to welcome in a new era of Patriots football – as new head coach Jerod Mayo prepares to lead the Pats into their first matchup this side of the pond without either Tom Brady or Bill Belichick at the helm. As the battle between Drake Maye and Jacoby Brissett for QB1 continues to intensify – subsequently captivating international sports media – fans can expect ‘Patriots Haus’ to be the first of many unforgettable activations by the Patriots outside of the United States.

‘Jags Country’ in the UK

To celebrate their 10th game in London, the Jacksonville Jaguars pulled out all the stops – hosting a country music festival, titled ‘Jags Country’, at the iconic OVO Arena Wembley on September 28th 2023. The event brought together a unique blend of American and UK talent – headlined by ’90s country legend Clint Black whilst featuring appearances from former players and the esteemed ROAR cheerleaders.

With 11 London games now under their belt, the Jaguars are no strangers to competing this side of the pond. In fact, there was extensive speculation surrounding a potentially permanent move to London – given owner Shahid Khan’s connection with Fulham FC. However, as the team commits its future to the city of Jacksonville – with a new stadium set to open in 2028 – British Jaguars fans will have to settle for just one game at Wembley Stadium for the foreseeable future. That said, in 2024, the Jaguars prepare for their second-straight season with back-to-back London games – ensuring events just like “Jags Country” will continue to appear as the team approaches their 20th UK game.

Chiefs try to keep their ‘ChampionShip’ afloat in Frankfurt

A pivotal component in the Kansas City Chiefs plans to expand their German-speaking fan base was their ‘ChampionShip’ event in 2023. Held on a Chiefs-themed boat on the Main River in Frankfurt, Kansas City enthusiasts were able to experience their own Draft Day moment – complete with a jersey photo and press conference – a personalised celebration with the Lombardi Trophy and educational sessions on NFL strategies and training.

On the ship, the Chiefs also curated a compelling tribute to the history of the organisation – featuring a mini Hall of Honor that highlighted legendary moments, notable games, and key franchise figures. The presence of star players including Hall of Honor running back Christian Okoye and 2023 inductee Dante Hall, only added to the excitement surrounding the event.

Kansas City may not have an international game scheduled for this year, but could the ‘ChampionShip’ see a return to Europe in 2025, with three-time Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes hoping to lead the Chiefs to the first-ever three-peat in the Super Bowl era?

Broncos Saddle Up in Mexico

From April 28th to May 1st 2023, the Denver Broncos embarked on a tour to Mexico, travelling around Mexico City and Monterrey in order to connect with their Mexican fan base. Former Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer and Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Terrell Davis headlined the tour – engaging in football activities, meet-and-greets and fan gatherings in both cities. In Mexico City, the Broncos’ visit centred around cultural exchanges and community engagement at the iconic Estadio Azteca – fostering a deep connection with Mexican football enthusiasts.

With NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell repeatedly expressing his desire to continually increase the number of annual international games, international fans could see the Denver Broncos – under the leadership of head coach Sean Payton – playing in Mexico as early as next year. With the Russell Wilson experiment now in the past, a new era begins in Denver – giving fans around the world a lot to be excited about.

Dolphins and Bears Unite for Barcelona Bash

At the Hard Rock Café in Barcelona, on Sunday 6th November 2022, the Miami Dolphins and Chicago Bears hosted the first official joint watch party to be held internationally. Free to the public, Miami Dolphins Senior Vice President of Alumni Relations Nat Moore and Chicago Bears Alumnus Shaun Gayle, engaged with local fans by signing autographs and participating in Q&A sessions before watching the live Dolphins vs Bears game-day broadcast

The Dolphins and Bears remain Spain’s only GMP teams, as both organisations aim to build their global brands whilst boosting NFL fandom around the world. As Head of NFL Europe & Asia-Pacific Brett Gosper said, “this collaboration in Spain is a perfect example of bringing international fans closer to the NFL and growing the game globally.”

Alongside their work in Spain, both teams also hold the rights to the UK market, with the Bears set to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars in London this October – boasting 2022 Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams at QB. Despite the Miami Dolphins staying stateside for all 17 of their regular season games in 2024, the NFL’s announcement that Spain will play host to its first-ever regular season game in 2025 undoubtedly gives Spanish Dolphins fans something to keep an eye on.

As new markets and opportunities emerge around the world, the NFL is primed to take its international popularity to new heights. By fostering partnerships and increasing fan engagement through activations, an overwhelmingly global NFL is seemingly on the horizon.

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