A Top Draft Pick for Marketing to Women? Cover Girl


The 55 years-young Cover Girl brand teamed up this season with the NFL to be the “official beauty sponsor of the NFL.”

What a play!


The NFL counts 185 million Americans as fans, based on ESPN polls of those who self-identify as interested in the sport. (That’s nearly 60 percent of the U.S. population.)

Of those, about 45 percent are women.

Up until recently, style-conscious female NFL fans were forced to wear big bulky jerseys made for guys.  Given women purchase 46% of NFL merchandise*, apparel marketers are now making NFL gear that shows team-loyalty, and is designed and cut for style-conscious women.

Like so many businesses looking to grow beyond their core, the NFL sees women as a key to future growth. This unlikely strategic partnership is as engaging as it is business-savvy.  It’s got fun visual inspiration and step-by-step instruction that’s socially sharable. Plus, it’s also easy to buy on line as 2-3 nail polish bundles (and, you’ve gotta love the smart puns like “fanicures” and “nailgating” events!)

But the real winner is the owner of Cover Girl, Procter & Gamble.  This partnership idea is what P&G calls a commercial or marketing innovation.  In other words, an innovation that takes existing products (without the huge risk and sizable investment of creating a new product) and makes them feel new and innovative.  This form of innovation takes a really holistic understanding of your target audience and an ability to see fresh new connections in ways others don’t.  It’s tough to crack, but when you do, it can be extremely profitable and differentiating for brands.

Even if most women don’t actually do the “fanicure”, this partnership will get women to take a fresh look at the whole Cover Girl brand in terms of feeling modern and relevant in a world still full of the beer-guzzling-all-male-sports-fan stereotype (which according to the fan data is of course completely untrue).  Cover Girl is acting like a leadership women’s brand that truly gets women as a whole person.  A person who is creative and curious, and has passions she wants to share.

In other words, she’s more than just a fingernail an armpit or a hairy leg. 

*2012 Mindshare/Ogilvy Data