NFL Turns to “The Force” To Increase Viewership

By Brian Chandler, president

Vikings and Bears… The Resistance and The First Order… Looks like ESPN and the NFL are trying to use The Force to garner up some ratings during Monday Night Football.

The trailer for “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” will make its debut tonight on ESPN during the game between the Vikings and Bears, which kicks off at 8:15 p.m. This strategy should help give a ratings boost to a hurting NFL, according to the Washington Post. Since players started taking a knee during the national anthem — not because Darth Vader is about to swing a lightsaber, but rather to take a stand for all kinds of different social and moral issues — the NFL has seen about 10 percent a drop in viewership.

It’s interesting to note that, according The Washington Post, this isn’t the first time the latest edition of the Star Wars series has found synergy with football. ESPN and Lucasfilm, the geniuses behind the film franchise, are both owned by Disney, purchased Lucasfilm in 2012. Owners saw a spike in ratings in 2015 when the trailer for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” debuted at halftime during a game between the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles.

But is it a good idea to tie a four-decade old iconic series to something that is riddled with politics these days? Here at Commonwealth PR, we often counsel our clients to stay as far away from politics as possible. No matter what side you are on, there’s a dark side and light side in politics. It’s unfortunate, but it’s the reality we live in today. Yoda couldn’t even sort it out for us.

I know this blog tinkers on the fringe of making a political point, but it highlights how companies are trying to think outside of the box and do things differently — not to make a political point, but in an effort to move the needle toward success. A lot of die-hard Star Wars fans, including myself, will be watching tonight and we will see advertising from many different companies and organizations while we wait for the trailer. Then the game will be turned off…

When your executive team or clients ask you to consider how their company could be involved in something that has somewhat of a political risk, think about how you can approach it with an outside-of-the-box strategy.

No matter how you stand on the issue, May the Force Be With You.