SBD/Issue 16/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

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  • Get More: T-Mobile Becomes NBA Telecom Service Provider

    T-Mobile has signed a three-year deal worth over $100M to become the official telecom service provider of the NBA, according to sources cited by Terry Lefton in this week’s SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The deal contains ad commitments on NBA Network, ESPN and TNT, as well as “NBA asset media and promotion commitments.” Under the agreement, which includes WNBA rights and makes T-Mobile “one of the NBA’s largest corporate sponsors,” the company receives “rights to the entire telecom services sector, which would prevent the NBA from signing a wired service provider.” T-Mobile does not receive rights to video highlights, something previous league sponsor Verizon Wireless had. T-Mobile Dir of Sponsorships & Promotions Mike Belcher said, “The NBA (with the WNBA) gives us a year-round platform that skews a little younger and allows us to promote all parts of our business to a broad audience while keeping a youthful appeal.” Lefton notes T-Mobile has a deal with the Sonics, and the company is “looking at more team sponsorships and possibly some player endorsements and NBA-themed advertising.” Wasserman Media Group is T-Mobile’s sports and sponsorship agency (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 10/3 issue).

    Print | Tags: Basketball, ESPN, NBA, TBS/TNT, Verizon, Walt Disney, WNBA
  • Coca-Cola Planning Entry Into F1, Considering Buying Team

    Coca-Cola “is looking at a range of options to break into F1, including buying or becoming a sponsor to an existing team,” as well as “examining the feasibility of setting up its own team,” according to Andrew Murray-Watson of the London TELEGRAPH. It is believed that Coca-Cola “has not yet held talks with any team bosses.” A Coca-Cola exec said, “It is very early days yet. But the growing popularity of F1 in several key Asian markets is something that is of interest to Coca-Cola.” F1 Management Chair Bernie Ecclestone confirmed that he was aware of Coca-Cola’s interest. Murray-Watson notes that title sponsorship of an existing team “could start at around” US$50M, while buying a team would cost at least $200M (London TELEGRAPH, 10/2).

    Print | Tags: Coca-Cola, Formula One
  • Belief System: OLN Breaks New “We Believe” NHL Ad Campaign

    “We believe in hockey” is the tagline for OLN’s new NHL ad campaign that broke Saturday, according to Andy Bernstein of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The campaign, produced by Fort Franklin, Boston, “features clips of past NHL games and fans cheering,” and relies on “more familiar images from the sport” than the league’s “Warrior” campaign. The first ad shows a shot of Coyotes Managing General Partner & coach Wayne Gretzky with a voice saying, “We believe in The Great One,” then a shot of Penguins C Sidney Crosby with the voice saying, “and the Next One.” OLN’s buying agency, Connecticut-based Media Storm, “will do spot cable buys in the home market of clubs competing on the network” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 10/3 issue). OLN runs a full-page ad in today’s N.Y. Times promoting its season-opening Rangers-Flyers broadcast Wednesday. The ad reads, “We Believe In Being Relentless And Diving In Front Of A 90 MPH Slap Shot” (THE DAILY).

    QUITE FRANKLY: Fort Franklin CEO & Creative Dir Marc Gallucci would not give a value of the agreement with OLN, but said that the deal “is a major piece” of the company’s business, “roughly 25[%] of its billings for the year.” In Boston, Jesse Noyes reports the campaign has “spurred the hiring of five new staffers with five more positions yet to be filled.” Noyes writes Fort Franklin’s “solid standing with ESPN makes the shift to a rival a gamble.” However, Gallucci said that while his company was “one of a handful of agencies ESPN hired,” it now is the “primary firm for OLN.” Gallucci: “You have to calculate your risk. I believe OLN is a minimal risk” (BOSTON HERALD, 10/3).

    MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING: Meanwhile, Conductor, L.A., President Tom Cotton, whose company produced the “Warrior” ad campaign that drew criticism from outgoing NCWO Chair Martha Burk, said the company “wanted to portray a mythical shrine to hockey and sell the idea of these players as warriors.” Cotton: “The woman [in the ads] is a tough cookie. She is an equal to the player. She is his physical and spiritual trainer. If we were portraying this in some hyper-real way it would not be appropriate, but this is clearly a myth. What was Ms. Burk looking at?” But Calgary-based Institute for Hockey Research Dir of Education Mike Bracko said the commercial “would not propel a family –-well, maybe if the father has high levels of testosterone -– to go to a hockey game so his kids could see scantily clad women, warriors and swords” (L.A. TIMES, 10/3).

    Print | Tags: Cablevision, Comcast-Spectacor, ESPN, Hockey, New York Rangers, NHL, Philadelphia Flyers, Phoenix Coyotes, Pittsburgh Penguins, Seattle Storm, Southwest Sports Group, Texas Rangers, Walt Disney
  • Grand Slam Deal: Denny’s Remains Title Sponsor Of PBA Tour

    Denny’s and the PBA have agreed to a three-year, multimillion-dollar deal, making the restaurant chain the title sponsor of the PBA Tour through at least the conclusion of the ‘07-08 season. A new Denny’s PBA Tour logo will be unveiled. Denny’s will receive advertising on the PBA’s ESPN telecasts, as well as a presence at 2,200 Strike Ten bowling centers. Denny’s will also distribute 10 million free bowling passes each year as part of its promotional efforts. The chain will retain title sponsorship of the ’06 PBA Denny’s World Championship in March in Indianapolis, and will also sponsor six bowlers in the ’05-06 PBA Sponsor Competition (Denny’s).

    Print | Tags: ESPN, PBA, Walt Disney
  • Picking Up The Blitz: “OTL” Examines Controversial Videogame

    Midway’s “Blitz” Not Bound By NFL License
    Yesterday’s edition of ESPN’s “Outside The Lines” examined the videogame “Blitz: The League” by Midway Games, which does not own the rights to NFL logos or players. ESPN’s Kelly Naqi said the game “isn’t bound by NFL restrictions, and they’re taking full advantage, even at the expense of one of the league’s top players. In the ‘Blitz’ game, a quarterback for the Redhawks bears a remarkable resemblance to (Falcons QB) Michael Vick: he‘s black, agile, strong-armed, left-handed and wears No. 7. But this player is named Mike Mexico, similar to Ron Mexico, a name Vick allegedly used as an alias, according to a lawsuit against him filed by a woman in March.” The game’s writer, Peter Egan, who also worked ESPN’s “Playmakers,” said Midway is trying to “do something that no other game does, which is mimic what we have seen in some of the newspapers and television about players (and) about the lifestyle.” Pro football HOFer Lawrence Taylor, who provided the voice for “Blitz” character Quentin Sands and is the game’s cover athlete, said of the violent content in the game: “It’s rated ‘M’ for mature, so it’s not like the NFL product, which is rated ‘E’ (for everyone). And to sit there and say, ‘Well, you know, these things don’t go on,’ then it should be rated ‘S’ for stupid, because (bleep) happens”

    DISCUSSION POINTS: A roundtable with EA Sports Dir of Marketing for Pro Football Games Jordan Edelstein, Electronic Gaming Monthly News Editor Bryan Intihar and former NFLer Ray Buchanan followed Naqi’s report. EA Sports holds the exclusive rights to NFL marks and player likenesses in the videogame category, and when asked how close “Blitz” is to the actual NFL, Edelstein said, “That’s something for the NFL really to judge.” ESPN’s Bob Ley interrupted Edelstein by saying, “You must have an opinion on this.” Edelstein: “You can hear the outrage from (Buchanan) in terms of some of it is a little close to the NFL and the NFL players.” Electronic Gaming Monthly News Editor Bryan Intihar on the competition “Blitz” poses to EA Sports’ “Madden” franchise: “I actually think there’s room for both games. Every kid is always going to want to play ... their favorite players on the football field. That’s why there’s Madden. ... But there’s also part of the segment that doesn’t really care about that and likes the more over-the-top type action, and that’s what ‘Blitz’ is designed for. It’s over-the-top for a reason. It has to attract a new consumer” (“Outside The Lines,” ESPN, 10/2).

    Analysts Do Not See
    “Blitz” Challenging EA’s “Madden”
    COMPETITION: Wedbush Morgan Securities analyst Michael Pachter said, “I really don’t think guys who like football simulation games (like Madden) are going to want to play a game that has a bunch of characters who are no-name players. ... My confidence level in sell-through for (Blitz) is low.” DFC Intelligence analyst David Cole added, “I don’t see Blitz as a big threat [to ‘Madden’]. I think (Midway) will face a pretty uphill battle.” Midway CEO David Zucker agreed that Blitz is not going to outsell Madden, but said, “I think it will surprise people” (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 10/2).

    HE’S GOT GAME: ABC’s John Madden, on his EA video game, “I do play it myself a little. I’m not very good. I really get more out of watching other people playing it. I am heavily involved in what we do with it each year. The plays, the defenses, the changes, all of that” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 10/3). Madden, on NFL players’ comments on their characters in the game: “I get all these complaints from players. Gotta give me more juice. Gotta give me more power!” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 10/3).

    Print | Tags: Atlanta Falcons, EA Sports, NFL
  • Marketplace Round-Up: Pete Rose Almost Endorses Sports Book

    Pete Rose Opts Not To Endorse
    Internet Sports Book
    In N.Y., Peter Lauria reported former MLBer Pete Rose was “close to signing a two-year, multimillion dollar deal this summer” to become a spokesperson for Web sports book BetUS.com. One source said, “Pete and his agent were very much in support of this but his legal team felt that if he endorsed an offshore sports book, it would put an end to any chance he has of getting into the Hall of Fame.” The endorsement deal eventually went to former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura (N.Y. POST, 10/2).

    SQUEEZE PLAY: In Boston, gossip columnists Fee & Raposa report Boston Mayor Tom Menino held Modell’s Sporting Goods CEO Mitch Modell “captive inside the Reebok luxury suite at Fenway Friday night and wouldn’t let him go outside to watch the game until Modell agreed to open an outlet in Downtown Crossing.” Modell said that the company is now looking at five possible locations (BOSTON HERALD, 10/3).

    BICYCLE KICK: In Boston, Jose Martinez noted Boston-based Liberty Mutual bought into the Spanish professional bike team Liberty Seguros, “after investing heavily in several companies in bike-mad Spain in 2000 and finding itself with zero name recognition on the Iberian peninsula.” Liberty spokesperson Fabio Selvig said, “Within 18 months, we went from 0.4[%] name recognition to 56.6[%]” (BOSTON HERALD, 10/1). The company brought to Boston six members of the team that rode in this year’s Tour de France “for a weekend of activities.” Robert Heras, who won the Spanish Vuelta last month for a record-setting fourth time, was among the riders. The team is auctioning Heras’ bike on eBay with proceeds going to the victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita (BOSTON GLOBE, 10/1).

    Print | Tags: Reebok
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