If you do not watch the NFL, it typically has a theme where it tries to raise awareness for certain causes or donates money to certain charities. Up until this year, October has been Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This was done where players had pink towels, pink shoes, pink tape, etc. This year that policy has changed and players can wear a color for a cause that they want to raise awareness for.
November is typically the time when teams wear colors in support of the military, the week before Veteran’s Day and the week of Veteran’s Day. During this time players wear camouflaged gear in support of the military and the coaches wear similar color schemed gear. To support the military the donates 100% of their proceeds of the Salute to Service merchandise to military non-profit partners. These partners include the USO, Pat Tillman Foundation and the Wounded Warrior Project. Last year the NFL donated $1000 for every point scored during the 32 ‘Salute to Service’ games to the same partners. And you can see they chose the Marine Corps camouflage pattern was chosen over the other services.
From 2011-2016 the NFL donated nearly $10million to those foundations, but this year they have added a new feature. Every time someone tweets #Salutetoservice the NFL will donate an additional $5 to one of their non-profit partners. I first saw this yesterday while sitting down watching one of the games. And from the start of the first game (1pm EST) until about six o’clock they had raised over $500,000 and still have until next week’s games.
During hurricane season, we have seen many high profile athletes raise money for disaster relief. JJ Watt raised over $37 million for assistance to help those who were affected by Hurricane Harvey. Watt’s initial goal wasn’t even $500,000 so his use of social media greatly helped the fund raising. So finally the NFL has jumped on board using social media as a way to help conduct a fundraiser. And just in the first few hours they had raised nearly half a million.
On the other hand, you can look at the NFL’s actions to help fundraise, not as a lesson learned from JJ Watt, but maybe as fundraiser with ulterior motives. Last year Colin Kaepernick sat during the national anthem during a preseason game. Later he began to kneel. With this protest almost in the rear view mirror, it was sparked again by the comments of the Commander and Chief Donald Trump. President Trump stated that any player that kneels during the national anthem should be fired or cut by the team. This argument has turned into one side saying that players should protest until injustices have been fixed, while others say it is a slap in the face of the men and women that have served our great nation.
I am not trying to make this into a political argument where everyone states what side of the isle they are on. But instead think about this as a possible marketing campaign of the NFL. As they are taking heat for players kneeling, advertisers like Papa John’s is complaining that sales are declining because of the protest (again, I’m not trying to go down this rabbit hole about your thoughts on his comments and if they could have been motivated by partners of his). So the question that I bring to the table is, could the NFL decided to make the Salute to Service campaign more public to help mend relationship with viewers? The NFL marketing team could have seen how ‘viral’ JJ Watt’s fundraising campaign was and wanted to take a similar path to help raise fund for their non-profit organizations.
It may seem a bit of a conspiracy theorist in a way, but the NFL could kill two birds with one stone. They could raise more money for those organizations and help regain some of the goodwill viewers had towards them. It is a win-win for all parties involved if that was the plan and it came to be accomplished.
Either way, if you have spare time over the week, tweet #SalutetoService to help raise the donation that the NFL will make to some great organizations. The Pat Tillman Foundation “invests in military veterans and their spouses through academic scholarships”, the USO “strengthens America’s military service members by keeping them connected to family, home and country” and the WWP as many of you may know work to empower wounded service members.