Don Mayo and I named our weekly show On Bourbon Street in honour of a late-night (actually early morning) walk we had down the legendary New Orleans street a few years back. 

Bourbon Street is a microcosm of the entire city. Parts of it are excellent, and parts of it are unfathomable. The disparity between rich and poor, utterly profound. Crises, such as Hurricane Ida, make the divide even more profound. The permanent loss of lives and livelihoods and the temporary displacement of people and pets will be overwhelmingly from the poorer communities. 

The City of New Orleans can never catch a break, and my heart goes out to them. 

Even their beloved Saints will have to kick off their 2021 season in a neutral site in Jacksonville. This unexpected relocation will not be the first time that Saints have become nomads for a season. Hurricane Katrina forced the city to use the Superdome as a massive shelter for displaced residents and that on its own will be a story for many more documentaries to come. But when the team does return home, their stadium will have a new name – the Caesars Superdome. 

As Sports Betting explodes across North America, the influx of sponsorship and marketing dollars is funding partnership deals at an unprecedented level. The NFL just announced four new sportsbook partners in time for this season. One of them is Caesars Entertainment, so the double down to name the stadium makes a lot of sense. 

This activity has heightened an already highly anticipated season that will include the mass return of fans to stadiums, the ongoing controversy over unvaccinated players, and the unprecedented return of all twenty-two starters to the defending Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

I am inquisitive to see how brand partners and league sponsors join in the fray. Will the pent-up demand for activation with consumers in real life be overmatched by the fears of variants and creating spreader events. This week will give us a preview into how the most powerful sports marketing machine on the continent will tackle the second season to be played under the clouds of this pandemic. 

As most team partners get prepared for the excitement, the challenge the Saints partners face must be twofold. One, how do you support the community in which you do business and help the victims? Two, what is the right tone and approach to take with your activations during this crisis? Let alone the third component of executing activities when your team is not even in its home state. 

The message is that while the NFL Kickoff brings joy to me as a fan and piques my interest as a marketer, it will also focus on the challenges of a team playing away from the hometown fans that have never needed them more.