The Patriots are arguably one of the greatest NFL teams of all time, with 11 Super Bowl appearances, six Super Bowl rings, a 42-year-old star QB and a legendary coach, they are seemingly unstoppable. However, they are more than just an esteemed team, they also are strong on the non-sport side of their brand. Through their usage of slogans, social media, in-game experience and emotional engagement they completely dominate the marketing game.
Each year the Patriots release a new slogan in attempts of “embodying the mission that the team believes in and the fans root for“. While a new one is created yearly, one that stuck with Patriots fans and created a cult-like following towards coach Bill Belicheck was the 14-15 slogan “Do Your Job”. The mantra was quoted by Belicheck himself and is treated more like a philosophy for the team rather than just a saying. NFL Films even created a documentary after their 2015 Super Bowl win, focused on behind the scenes footage of Bill Belichick and his success as a Patriots coach, naming it Do your Job. Since the Patriots have won three Super Bowl’s since 2015, the documentary was created into a three-part series. The Patriots themselves also created a Do your Job series on their own Youtube channel where they follow the equipment staff, scouting administration and the team behind the Super Bowl team. This slogan created a sense of community for Patriots fans, creating a sense of family from a sports fan base. Since Do Your Job, the yearly motto has also been changed to One More in 2016/2017, No Days off in 2017/2018, and Not Done in 2018/2019. We’ll be excited to see what the 2020 slogan will bring!
The Patriots’ Twitter and Instagram accounts have the most followers of any team in the NFL, with over 4.1 million followers on Instagram and 4.5 million followers on Twitter. Although, the Patriots are the second most followed NFL team on Facebook behind the Dallas Cowboys which makes the Cowboys the most followed team over all platforms since they are collectively 200,000 followers ahead of the Patriots. The Patriots social team pushes out daily content between memes of players, game stats, IGTV videos and even posts where you can buy merch. Even though Patriots’ social media team creates an abundance of content they push out to satisfy fans, the Patriots also see a tremendous amount of earned media which is assumedly due to their recent Super Bowl appearances. On Facebook leading up to the date of Super Bowl LIII, the NFL’s Facebook account, as well as an account for NFL Meme’s, created an extra 80.4 million earned views for the team. Through the memes and usage of old highlight footage from 1997 and 2002, the creative content earned the Patriots a tremendous amount of exposure. The Patriots also utilize their star QB, Tom Brady, and monetize off of his obsessive fan following. Facebook Watch came out with a series called Tom vs Time “which follows the quarterback as he juggles being one of the world’s most accomplished athletes with parental duties and life”. Even Brady’s own social media content is one that fans seem to love, with his monologue selfie-style videos or his game-day hype videos, he is always posting something his fans love.
Finding substantially creative ways to create a deeper emotional engagement within fans towards a sports franchise has quickly become a central goal for teams, especially for an organization such as the Patriots. Gillette Stadium located in Foxboro, MA where the Patriots call home, is often praised for its in-game experience offered to fans on game day. During a season opener against the Chiefs in 2017, “Gillette gave each fan a free cup with batteries on the bottom that would light up and flash anytime the Patriots scored points“. This tactic allowed Patriots fans during the game to feel inclusive while “tens of thousands of blue and red flashing cups could be seen around the venue during a touchdown or field goal”. Another way the Patriots surpass traditional NFL team marketing is through their Patriots Gameday app, which enhances the actual in-game experience. Through the app, you can watch game replays and different camera shots as well as use features like ticketing, photo sharing, and bathroom wait times. Additionally, it “provides information to fans while helping the team gather data, such as the type of content fans prefer, to fine-tune the stadium experience“. Gillette Stadium also offers free wifi for game days, which most stadiums don’t. This allows fans to share and post on social media in real-time rather than waiting until after they leave the stadium where they have service.
The Patriots work on many different fronts to not only gain exposure but to make their community in New England a better place. One way the Patriots create a strong community following is through their involvement with organizations like the United Way of Mass Bay. The United Way and the NFL created the Character Playbook, “which is a digital learning tool for middle schoolers”. The Character Playbook app is created in a graphic novel-like style in order to help kids “build their social and emotional skills, learn how to deal with difficult situations and how to foster healthy relationships” which is not something widely taught in schooling systems. The Patriots brought the Playbook app to almost 3,000 students in 40 New Hampshire schools. Both the Patriots and the NFL have also created Huddle for 100 in honor of its 100th season where it encourages fans to donate 100 minutes of their time to help shape the community. Once a month, the club or organization with the most charity minutes will receive a “community-focused grant from the NFL foundation with one $100,000 grant awarded for a community project“. They encourage the use of the hashtag #PatriotsHuddlefor100 to share the volunteer experience on social media for others to see.