Director of Sports for North America, shares all on the NFL Sponsorship

Our breakthrough National Football League (NFL) partnership is at the heart of a monumental social occasion celebrated by many with a shared passion around the globe, Rick Pineda tells us more.


How would you describe your role at Diageo and what’s the most exciting thing about it?

As our Director of Sports for North America, I’m responsible for helping our world-class brands engage with consumers via the various sports teams and leagues in unique and impactful ways. Sport brings people together in celebration of a shared passion and our brands have a role to play in that occasion, making this a great marketing avenue. I get so excited to work with our brilliant marketers and commercial teams to find a place in sport for our brands to shine. I love seeing our work come to life in so many places and spaces in the US and Canada!

Tell us what this NFL sponsorship involved?

This is truly a breakthrough moment as we have become the first ever official spirits sponsor of the NFL. The partnership allows us to bring new and exciting programs and experiences to the NFL’s passionate adult fan base, while continuing to use our platform to champion social responsibility in every way.

Our partnership is led by our Smirnoff, Crown Royal, and Captain Morgan brands, who owned a specific platform around the NFL season.  Smirnoff helped launch the NFL season by activating at NFL Kickoff 2022; Crown Royal celebrated its generous brand ethos by raising funds all season long for hospitality places around the country that support game day, and Captain Morgan was the first sponsor of the NFL’s Fan of the Year contest which celebrates the unique ‘spice’ of NFL fans.

Our inaugural season as an NFL sponsor culminated in Los Angeles in celebration of Super Bowl LVI where a number of our brands created experiences in the week leading to the big game for fans to celebrate an incredible football season together!

Why are Diageo committed to creating a partnership?

As the most watched sports league in the United States, the NFL partnership provides us tremendous scale and reach to connect with consumers in so many ways.  Whether this is with great programming at retail, engaging social/digital content, or activating at major events like the Super Bowl, the NFL gives us so many ways to talk to a huge segment of sports fans in the US and Canada.

What has been your involvement in this partnership and why does this matter to you?

Since I joined Diageo, my primary responsibility has been to work with our internal cross-functional teams to bring this partnership to life for our inaugural season.  Our sports partnerships need to serve as a platform for our brands to engage with fans and share their brand stories while also supporting our commercial teams in engaging with our distributor and retail partners. Working with brand and commercial, in addition to our various internal teams like legal, procurement, finance, and central media is essential to drive impact. It has been a truly monumental effort with many challenges and learnings, but there have been so many incredible people working on this project and seeing our plans come to fruition has made it truly rewarding. 

Share your top 3 tips for someone looking to get into a career in marketing?

Be collaborative – Sharing ideas, supporting your peers, and working together is critical to success in such a fast-paced and dynamic field.

Be curious – I’ve found that successful marketers have a passion for learning and uncovering new ways to engage with consumers.

Be passionate – Marketing is often a challenging and demanding field. It’s important to embrace those quirks, enjoy the twists and turns, and have fun with it!

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