Making loyalty points count with the NFL social justice partnership
The team behind Barclays’ NFL partnership shares how they pivoted their approach to allow cardholders to donate to charities tackling racial injustice – and created a platform for NFL players to share messages on how to address inequality.
Barclays’ unique partnership with the National Football League offers NFL fans a chance to earn loyalty points, which can be redeemed for special experiences – from trips to the Super Bowl, to meet-and-greets with players. But in the wake of an unprecedented year, the team behind the partnership saw an opportunity to change their approach.
“With so many limitations on being able to go to games and travel, the pandemic reduced the opportunity for members to be able to take advantage of those opportunities,” says Nichelle Evans, Barclays’ Head of Travel and Affinity Credit Card Partnerships.
At the same time, the murder of George Floyd in May 2020 sparked global protests and put a new spotlight on the black lives matter movement. “We saw communities of all races, ethnicities and backgrounds come together around a common cause,” says Evans.
People look at corporations and their workplaces to set an example. Barclays is leading the way in helping to shape that message.
Head of Travel and Affinity Credit Card Partnerships at Barclays
As more and more people started searching for ways to help tackle racial and social injustice, it became clear that Barclays and the NFL could pivot the NFL Extra Points credit card programme.
Kristin Shannon, Vice President of Travel and Affinity Partnerships, explains that both Barclays and the NFL wanted to encourage customers to take action and support them in doing so.
The result was a plan allowing members of the NFL Extra Points programme to donate points they had earned to charities known for their work tackling inequality and promoting the economic empowerment of historically underserved communities.
To allow contributors to make a greater impact, the NFL Extra Points team ran a six-week campaign in which they topped up cardholder donations by 25%. Cardmembers could also redeem points for a virtual meet-and-greet with Pro Football Hall of Fame member and the NFL’s first Black general manager, Ozzie Newsome.
Shannon explains that the initiative allowed Barclays to do two things: “Give our cardmembers a way to take action and make a difference by donating their loyalty points to charitable organisations, and continue to drive awareness around social justice.”
A platform for conversation
The Extra Points team focused on raising awareness as well as funds using social media to reach as wide an audience as possible. NFL players, past and present, took part in live conversations on Instagram to share their perspectives on social injustices, emphasise the work the non-profits supported through the donations programme – and explain what social justice means to them. These conversations reached more than 130,000 accounts on Instagram.
One event featured Nate Burleson, football commentator and former NFL player, and Mark Ingram Jr, current running back for the Houstan Texans and a recipient of the Heisman Trophy.
“It was really a natural fit to give these players the platform to talk about social justice, and also highlight the work that the charities are doing,” adds Sklodowski.
Bringing the organisations and different approaches together ensured that the initiative would reach a larger audience, adds Shannon. “It was a lot of collaboration both internally and externally,” she says. “Getting new voices involved really helped the initiative grow into something much bigger than it was initially.”
“Corporations have an opportunity to embrace and spread a message”
Reflecting on what the partnership with the NFL has achieved, Evans says it’s crucial for companies like Barclays to speak out on social justice. She highlights the bank’s Race at Work Action Plan, which launched in 2020 and is expanding the number of communities and corporations it works with.
“Corporations have an opportunity to embrace and spread a message quickly and more broadly,” she adds. “We all need to work together in order to create the best world and the best business that we possibly can. People look at corporations and their workplaces to set an example. Barclays is leading the way in helping to shape that message.”
It was a lot of collaboration both internally and externally. Getting new voices involved really helped the initiative grow into something much bigger than it was initially.
Vice President of Travel and Affinity Partnerships, Barclays
Barclays’ partnership with the NFL has also inspired colleagues within the bank to consider similar efforts with other partners. “It has resonated so well internally,” Evans says. “People are starting to ask, ‘How can we make this bigger and broader? Are there other opportunities to do it?’
“This was an opportunity that was born out of what was going on in the world – driven by the pandemic, driven by the murder of George Floyd, driven by a lot of things. Seeing how we could come together and create a positive opportunity and support the community is really inspiring and impactful. I think it paves the way for things that we can do in the future.”