For all the heat that has surrounded Cowboys owner Jerry Jones for years on his team-first stance with regard to certain sponsorship deals, it has always been interesting to see that the Cowboys have ceded some of their most valuable real estate…the end zone signage, to a cause, the Salvation Army, for years. No other brands, no other rotational signage, no other visibility other than the red shield. This weekend, Ezekiel Elliott’s national TV kettle dive drove on national TV drove more visibility and arguably more dollars in one move than years of exposure at AT and T Stadium could have, and kudos to the charity for moving fast and taking advantage of the moment.
In reality, the Jones family relationship has driven over $2 BILLION for the Salvation Army since the partnership was started in the 1990’s by Cowboys Executive Vice President Charlotte Jones Anderson, as a result of some of the negative stories that had arisen off of some of the off-field actions by Cowboys players. The result was a longstanding cause based partnership that has kicked off every year with a Thanksgiving game concert, and hours of special events for awareness in and around Texas.
As far as the Elliott leap goes, the beauty was in its simplicity. The move has probably been thought about by players time and again, but Elliott’s timing and location, before a national TV audience, made it very special in a social crazed world. It was amplified by Elliott’s own donation, the NFL’s refusal to fine, and the Salvation Army’s fast moves on social to drive donations at a simple increment, $21 to match his jersey number, really helped drive a moment into a huge positive.
Was there some criticism, even from the coaching staff? Yes. However it was a moment for a cause that is largely misunderstood in the United States for its work, something which was simple and authentic and could not be bought, and for those reasons it scored on many fronts. Could it be replicated? Hopefully not, but for creativity Elliott, like the Cowboys most of the season, was in the right place at the right time, and right time of year for some cause marketing gold in a red kettle.