Brand USA will have one of its biggest stages of the year during the three-game NFL London Games series this month, and it will need every inch of that stage to capitalize on the moment as UK visitation has fallen in recent years.
The three NFL games taking place in London this month will get some extra offense from Brand USA, the country’s national destination marketing organization that is a lead sponsor of the games and kickoff concert.
The UK is the largest overseas visitor market for the United States, but UK arrivals were down nearly 7 percent in 2016 and 2.3 percent in 2017. Part of Brand USA’s aim with its NFL sponsorship is to reverse that trend.
UK arrivals are up nearly 3 percent from January through April this year, the most recent period for which data is available from the National Travel & Tourism Office, but arrivals are down nearly 10 percent year-over-year for April.
The stakes are high to revive the downward trend. The UK is also the fifth largest market for visitor spending in the United States, and UK travelers spent $15.6 billion on travel to the country in 2017.
Brand USA surveyed its top markets in June and found the UK is one of four markets with the highest political sensitivity to visiting the United States. Albeit, Brexit and currency might also have something to do with the decline, as the UK pound sterling has been falling against the U.S. dollar since 2014.
The first game was Sunday at Wembley Stadium with the Seattle Seahawks defeating the Oakland Raiders 27-3. The Los Angeles Chargers will play the Tennessee Titans on October 21, the Jacksonville Jaguars will play the Philadelphia Eagles on October 28.
Brand USA is partnering with NFL UK to sponsor the series and concert through its GoUSA TV platform, which it launched earlier this year. Both Brand USA and GoUSA TV branding will appear on all event sponsorship materials at the games. Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter and Londoner Jess Glynne will headline the concert at Wembley Stadium on October 14 which will highlight American music, sports, food, and traditions.
Brand USA has sponsored the NFL’s international games since 2013 and is a leading sponsor for the 2018 NFL London Games. This year’s partnership kicked off in September with a day-long fan event in London’s Piccadilly Circus, which showcased how Londoners can follow their favorite NFL teams and experience new American cities.
“Tailgates, touchdown celebrations, and iconic halftime shows have two things in common – football and music, which is why the London Games Kickoff Concert presented by GoUSA TV is the perfect complement to this year’s partnership with the NFL,” said Christopher Thompson, president and CEO of Brand USA, in a statement. “Brand USA is excited to invite UK fans to explore GoUSA TV programming to learn unique aspects of any one of the NFL’s 32 team cities, then come to visit and experience it all first-hand.”
Alistair Kirkwood, managing director of NFL UK, said that “GoUSA TV is a great brand that helps us to deliver an exciting and entertaining experience for all NFL fans.”
Brand USA also wants to use its London games spotlight to encourage fans to download the recently released GoUSA TV mobile app. GoUSA TV is available as a channel on Roku TV, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire TV in various markets in North America, Europe, Asia, and Latin America, and also has a mobile app component that allows travelers to watch video content on the go.
GoUSA TV content focuses on outdoors, road trips, food and drink, and culture and events, and some of the content such as its new Turning Tables series, which shows the connection between music and food in cities like Seattle and San Antonio, is akin to a Netflix docuseries.
Brand USA said GoUSA content has garnered millions of views since it launched in February. The average views per user are five videos and the average amount of time spent watching the videos is about 17 minutes. Some 20 percent of the platforms viewership is in the UK.
Unlike past NFL London Games sponsorships, this year Brand USA has entertaining content it can offer travelers on the go and in their homes to future entice them to consider a U.S. trip. If seeing is believing, Brand USA is hoping UK fans will believe GoUSA TV’s content and imagine the trip of a lifetime.
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Photo credit: Brand USA is once again partnering with NFL UK to sponsor the 2018 NFL London Games. Pictured are NFL fans in Trafalgar Square in London. Ania Mendrek / Flickr