Lenovo’s NFL activation program isn’t just sparking water cooler conversations among fantasy football fans--it also is driving measurable results.

The computer technology company has posted a 32 percent increase in brand awareness among fantasy football fans since launching the program in 2012.

 “The promotion is an opportunity to engage consumers in a way that is relevant to them. A 32 percent increase in awareness helps us justify the partnership versus having an actual sales ROI on sponsorship activation,” said Kevin Berman, Lenovo’s director of advertising and marketing services.

The Evolution Of The NFL Sponsorship
Lenovo in 2012 inked a three-year partnership with the NFL to build credibility and engage tech-savvy millennials.

“We call them the “Lenovo Doers”—the generation of consumers who have technology at the core of everything they do.”

The company uses the NFL to promote Lenovo Yoga, a two-in-one product that can be used as both a tablet and laptop computer. Lenovo uses fantasy football as the hook.

“Fantasy football has become almost as big as the actual sport,” said Berman, noting that most fans play the game on a laptop computer.

Lenovo in 2013 launched two fantasy football-themed activation programs: the Fantasy Football Coach of the Year contest and Tough Season, an online mockumentary created through a partnership with The Onion.

The company has expanded both programs for the 2014-2015 NFL season.  

Lenovo has expanded the Coach of the Year contest to two winners. The promotion gives two fantasy football fans the opportunity to select a team at the NFL Pro Bowl and gain on-field recognition at the Super Bowl. 

“We’re trying to bring fantasy football to life, and the closest thing to fantasy football is the Pro Bowl.”

Lenovo has expanded the Tough Season mockumentary with more content, characters and prizes. The series centers on the story of Brad Blevins, a fictional office worker who interacts with Matt Forte, Andrew Luck and other NFL players.

“Roasting fantasy football is entertaining, and we let the Onion have fun with it.”

Tough Season has exceeded expectations: The inaugural series was viewed 13.5 million times, more than four time expectations.

Based on that success, Lenovo this year has added five more episodes, three new athletes, four extended scenes (including a music video), new contests and other content that can be repurposed on social media.

Lenovo also pokes fun at sports marketing by making Blevins its official spokesperson. Blevins mispronounces the Lenovo name, tosses the company’s products after one use and participates in other antics.  

“One of the best parts of working with the Onion is the expectation they will leverage their voice as it relates to our brand. We let them poke fun of us the way the Onion should.”

Lenovo posts all of the content on www.Lenovo.com/NFL. The NFL posts Coach of the Year content on www.NFL.com/FOY while the Onion promotes Tough Season on www.TheOnion.com.

Lenovo also posts the content on its new social media platforms. The company launched its first U.S.-centric Facebook page in July and Twitter feed in August to engage current and potential customers in North America.

The company activates the sponsorship at retail with account-specific promotions, said Berman, adding that Lenovo is developing new programs for the upcoming NFL season.

The NFL sponsorship affords exclusivity in the laptop, desktop and workstation categories. While the partnership bumps up against Microsoft Corp.—the league’s official tablet and PC operating system—there is no conflict because some Lenovo products feature Microsoft operating systems, said Berman.

The NFL has been a customer of Lenovo’s since 2007.