NFL Looks to Score With Catalog Play

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NFL Shop, the National Football League's direct marketing arm, said it will try to take advantage of the interest from its upcoming player draft with a catalog run next month.

The catalogs will advertise that jerseys with the name and number of the team's new first-round draft picks can be ordered. The NFL declined to give other details, such as the volume of the drop, since it is still developing the campaign.

NFL Shop, New York, has targeted displaced fans -- or people who live away from their favorite teams -- with 1.2 million to 1.5 million catalog drops every month over the past year. The catalogs for each of the 31 teams usually run 35 to 40 pages and offer authentic jerseys that cost about $60. Customized jerseys that allow consumers to select a name and number also are offered for $160 to $180.

In addition, the catalogs offer memorabilia such as clocks and lamps adorned with a team's logo.

Six million of NFL Shop's 8 million-person marketing database qualify as displaced fans. The league has collected names, addresses and favorite-team information in a number of ways, including event booths at the Super Bowl and Pro Bowl, pulling subscriber information from its NFL Insider magazine and obtaining subscriber information from its satellite TV partners.

To encourage sales, as an example, New Yorkers who favor the Miami Dolphins are sent a catalog featuring that team rather than one for a nearby squad such as the New York Jets or Giants.

Bob O'Keefe, director of direct marketing at NFL Shop, said the league has increased its cataloging efforts since it formed his division in 1999. He said the catalogs always give NFL Shop's Web address prominent placement.

"Not only do we see catalogs as good direct sales [tools], but we also view them as the most effective and most efficient way to drive online sales," he said.

NFL Shop also uses e-mail campaigns, direct response TV and a Web kiosk deal with shoe retailer Foot Locker to target displaced fans.

Of all the channels, O'Keefe said, catalogs and e-commerce have been the best revenue generators and the reasons the division will come "within a sliver" of reaching its 2000-01 sales goal of $40 million. That is nearly triple the division's 1999-2000 sales of $14 million. O'Keefe said 75 percent of the division's business came from displaced fans. The division expects to turn its first profit during the fiscal year that starts April 1.


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