In the second part of his two-part series, UCFB’s Head of Global Marketing James McKeown looks at how America promotes it’s two most successful sporting exports – the NFL and NBA. While one chooses to promote the league as one strong entity, the other is based on the players, their skills and their personalities…

In the USA, the two most popular major league sports have somewhat contrasting promotional strategies.


The NFL’s logo embodies its ethos, with a focus famously on ‘the shield’. Individual teams may rise and fall, athletes may peak and retire, but one thing remains the same – the NFL as a league enjoys incredible popularity in the States. The relative lack of player focus in its marketing is partly down to the difficulty in recognising individual athletes under their helmets on an NFL field of play. But the power of the tradition of NFL gameday, with Sundays exclusively reserved in American culture for NFL viewing between September and January, makes up for any shortfall in superstar players.

The NFL is working towards a London-based franchise in the near future.


The NBA’s logo, meanwhile, focusses on the player – as do its general media and marketing strategies. The NBA was an early adopter in embracing social media for its players and uses their individual stardom around the world as a selling point. Years ago the NBA also decided to be more liberal than most about sharing short highlight clips online for free. That strategy to grab the attention of the younger consumer through highlights of its stars has so far paid off, with the league enjoying a bigger digital footprint and a younger average audience than rival leagues.

Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors played out an epic NBA Finals Series in 2019.