Some Marie Claire readers might be a bit bewildered as they flip through the latest issue of the monthly magazine. Among the pages of fall fashion spreads, detailed hair-do how-tos, and relationship advice will be a 16-page guide to…football?

That’s right. Smack dab in the middle of Marie Claire’s September issue will be the “Savvy Girl’s Guide to Football.” The guide gives the female football newbie a little gridiron 101. The education includes tips on how to master the lingo, draft a fantasy team, how to throw a football, and, more importantly, throw the ultimate super bowl party. But the guide’s goal isn’t simply to help Marie Claire readers brush up on their football knowledge. Ads promoting the NFL women’s apparel punctuate the entire 16-page spread, and a “What to Wear to Watch the Game” feature, dominated by NFL gear, is also included in the “Savvy Girl’s Guide.” And suddenly, it all begins to make sense…

While some may be confused by the NFL’s recent foray into fashion magazines, those tuned into advertising will not be surprised. For years, the NFL has been amplifying its female-targeted marketing, and this is only their latest play in an ongoing strategy.

In the past ten years, the number of women who watch football has grown considerably. “Since 2002, the percentage of women watching the Super Bowl has increased from 14% to 46%,” according to AdAge. To bank on this increasingly female consumer base, the NFL expanded their line of women’s apparel  and bumped up its advertising. What started as print and TV ads has grown to include now in-stadium “style lounges” for women to shop during games and this most recent content marketing campaign with Marie Claire.  While Marie Claire’s supplement is the major piece of the NFL’s content initiative, they will also run advertisements in other women’s magazines including Vogue, US Weekly, and Cosmopolitan, reports truthinadvertising.org.

The NFL’s marketing efforts have not been in vain. Women’s jerseys saw double-digit growth in the past ten years, reports AdAge. And their content campaign will undoubtedly help them capture an even larger share of the female market.

So what does this tell us about the direction of the marketing industry? If a corporate giant like the NFL is hopping on the content marketing train, it’s clearly not just a passing trend. Be on the lookout for more cooperation between big-name brands and major publications. It is likely more companies will follow the NFL’s lead and look to sponsored content for their next marketing campaign.

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 Image via NFL