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By Diane Krausz and Jennifer Bellusci

On September 21st, the National Football League (NFL) "touched down" on Broadway as a first time producer with the play "Lombardi", about the revered football coach Vince Lombardi who transformed the Green Bay Packers " into one of the NFL's most formidable championship franchises and Lombardi into the archetype for the all-American coach." (The New York Observer 9/10/10) Since the Green Bay Packers, the football team Lombardi coached is a name and logo significantly featured both in the Play and its proposed marketing and merchandising campaign, licensing the right to use the Green Bay Packers' logo, name and brand is essential element required both in the play and for its marketing and advertising campaign. Also, Lombardi's "lead" or main producer, Tony Ponturo, has a long and very strong history in sports and marketing, including employment with the NFL, and clearly understands how the NFL's endorsement as producer, and the marketing through its 32 franchise teams, would be an enormous promotional boost to the Play in markets that most Broadway shows never even attempt to approach. This does not even take into account the legitimacy and prestige that the NFL name provides as an authentic sports history certified event.

Therefore, the addition of the NFL as a Producer to Lombardi is of great value to the marketing and promotion of the play, particularly to an audience that is usually not regarded as "theater friendly", e.g., the sports fan.

The publicity and news regarding the play have reported that the NFL has made no actual direct financial contribution in exchange for its producer credit and participation. There is no doubt, however, that, in exchange for its enormous contribution in marketing, promotion and advertising support, both in using its own internal resources and in additional special advertising and marketing, the NFL is most deserving of a standard producer's gross royalty and net profit participation, including in any ancillary rights that may occur after the initial Broadway production.

In most cases, to earn a producer or associate producer credit, a individual or entity will raise a certain amount of the capital investment required to fund the play, or invest his/her/its own funds. In other instances, a producer will contribute "sweat equity" or some other form of consideration that translates into an investment and producer credit. On occasion, a producer has made a significant "in kind" donation where a bond with a union, such as Equity, has been guaranteed or posted by a producer/investor. The NFL, in the case of "Lombardi", has more than provided its fair share by contributing the licensing rights of its franchises and advertising support, both of the standard theater type and of a much more expanded variety, such as internet advertising on all team sites and large billboard ads, as well as other more sports-oriented marketing programs. According to Brian McCarthy of NFL Properties, the NFL is also sponsoring several special evenings at the theater, including a "retired players" night in the beginning of the play's run. Mr. McCarthy assures me that the NFL has access to a standard industry right of "house seats", e.g., orchestra tickets, usually in the first ten rows, available for purchase by producer each performance at retail cost, available up to 48 hours notice prior, although he would not comment on whether or the amount of the percentage of gross and net percentage participation the NFL had in the weekly box office proceeds of the play and subsidiary rights.

Among members of the theater community, particularly those who work on Broadway, the type of new audience members that the NFL name and franchise could potentially attract would certainly be welcome.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 22, 2010 8:00 AM.

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