SBD/Issue 136/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

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  • White Sox, Blackhawks Form Far-Reaching Marketing Sponsorship

    White Sox, Blackhawks Form
    One-Year Marketing Partnership
    The White Sox and Blackhawks today will announce a far-reaching marketing partnership in which each club will promote themselves in the other club’s building and within the other club’s media inventory, a rarely heard-of practice for clubs not controlled by the same ownership group. The pact, signed for one year but eyed for a longer term, will begin today at the White Sox’ home opener with a video to be shown at the stadium that will feature Blackhawks RW Patrick Kane and C Jonathan Toews in White Sox hockey jerseys. Other activations in the partnership include a Shoot The Puck promotion on the top of the White Sox dugout during each game at U.S. Cellular Field, a Blackhawks night at the ballpark set for August 23 and Blackhawks theming in White Sox game presentations, such as the use of the hockey goal horn for home runs. Similar activities, such as a White Sox night at United Center, are being developed for the '08-09 NHL season, and some ticket sales activity will occur at each other’s games as well. Financial terms were not disclosed, but the deal will result in a substantial net payment from the Blackhawks to the White Sox, as the hockey team will be doing more activation at U.S. Cellular Field than the White Sox at the United Center, and the baseball team’s media and sponsorship inventory is more valuable. The clubs share interest in Comcast SportsNet Chicago, and have the same flagship radio station of WSCR-AM. White Sox VP & CMO Brooks Boyer: “Our fan bases really match up well. There’s a ton of similarities between them. Instead of competing against each other, we’re taking a chance and seeing if we can drive each other’s business forward.”

    REACHING OUT: The move represents another major marketing initiative undertaken by the Blackhawks since the September death of Owner Bill Wirtz, who famously resisted many forms of outreach to fans. The club in recent months also has announced plans to televise every game next season, create a fan festival and repair strained relationships with several club legends. “We have to be bold. We have to be innovative. We’re working with a blank canvas,” said Blackhawks Senior VP/Business Operations Jay Blunk. “This whole quest is about making the Blackhawks relevant again. We built up such great momentum since the beginning of the new year. The question before us now is how we keep that momentum. Staying visible and being in front of White Sox fans is part of that.” The Blackhawks also intend to pursue some promotional opportunities with the Cubs, particularly as Blunk and Blackhawks President John McDonough each were longtime Cubs employees before moving to the hockey team late last year. But Blunk said it will not be "on the same scale as with the Sox.” Blunk: “The in-game presentation opportunities at U.S. Celluar lend themselves to far more activity.”

  • Blocked Shot: NCAA Pulls Hooters' Ad From Final Four Program

    NCAA Pulls Hooters Ad
    From Final Four Program
    The NCAA has pulled a full-page Hooters ad from its men's basketball tournament's Final Four Official Tournament Program featuring ESPN's Dick Vitale and a Hooters girl that commemorated the restaurant's 25th anniversary. Hooters VP/Marketing Mike McNeil: "My understanding is the NCAA had stated they would only consider the ad if we removed the image of a Hooters girl, which is absurd. That would be like telling General Motors you can advertise but don't show a picture of a car." Hooters several weeks ago had heard that the NCAA had concerns about the ad, but the company assumed that a communication from Vitale personally to the NCAA had resolved the matter (Hooters). AOL's Charles Rich wrote under the header, "NCAA Gives Hooters Tremendous Amounts Of Free Publicity." With the NCAA pulling the ad, Hooters gets "more publicity and attention for their restaurant" without having to pay for the ad in the program. Rich: "The fact is that the outfit the Hooters girls wear is no racier than the outfits worn by NCAA-sanctioned cheer and dance squads" (, 4/4).'s Will Brinson wrote, "The NCAA by banning the ad is just making it more popular/sought after" (, 4/5).

    ATHLETE ADS: In Richmond, Paul Woody wrote under the header, "Commercials Add Up To Money For Everyone Except Athletes." Noting a Univ. of Virginia football ad featuring narration by WR Kevin Ogletree and RB Cedric Peerman, Woody wrote when a school uses a "star athlete to promote ticket sales, the money goes to the athletic department." The money also "can go to the coach, if he has a clause in his contract regarding attendance." While coaches "can sell just about anything," a system "should be put in place that permits college athletes to use their fame and public profile for their own benefit." Woody: "Failing that, athletic departments and conferences should be prohibited from using athletes to sell their products. Coaches should be prohibited from endorsing any products except those where the proceeds, in the NCAA's words, 'go directly to the member institution, member conference or the charitable, educational or nonprofit agency" (RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, 4/6).

    SOARING SALES: In San Antonio, William Pack reported NCAA merchandise sales over the weekend in the city "could top $2[M]." Stephen Haase, who ran the Team Store trailer by the Alamo, said, "They'll sell out by Saturday night." Meanwhile, five teams of law enforcement officers and Collegiate Licensing Co. officials "fanned out across San Antonio on Friday looking for counterfeit NCAA merchandise" (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 4/5).

    CASHING IN: In Charlotte, Kathryn Thier reported Davidson College, which advanced to the tournament's Elite Eight, has seen a "262[%] increase in Web site traffic," and there are "worries there won't be enough freshman housing next year. The Davidson bookstore, which usually sells "about $1,700" worth of merchandise a day, sold "about $40,000 a day during the week of the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight appearances" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/5).

  • Going Formal: Polo To Outfit U.S. Olympians For Beijing Games

    Polo Ralph Lauren has agreed to a deal with the USOC to outfit the U.S. Olympians for the opening and closing ceremonies of this summer's Beijing Olympic Games, according to Tripp Mickle of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The deal stipulates that the U.S. Olympic team will wear "formal attire, probably in the form of coats and ties for men and skirts or dresses for women, for the first time in more than three decades during the opening and closing ceremonies of an international sporting event." Mickle notes the partnership "falls in line with the USOC's effort to improve its international relations within the Olympic movement by following the example of other countries that wear formal attire." Terms of the agreement, expected to be announced officially next week, were not available, but sources said the deal covers only this summer's Games (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 4/7 issue). Polo said that the deal will cost "less than $10[M]." The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Kang & Dodes report Polo will replace Roots as the official outfitter of the U.S. team. Roots had outfitted the U.S. team for the past three Olympics and was to "continue through 2008.'' However, the two sides in January parted ways "after Roots presented the USOC with designs the committee deemed too informal." Polo this summer will launch an ad campaign around the partnership, and while Polo "has outfitted Olympians in the past, ... it has never designed outfits for the entire team." The deal also includes September's Beijing Paralympic Games. Polo is "negotiating with several U.S. department stores" to carry the company's new Olympics-branded clothing, and Polo is "working with officials to potentially set up shops in Beijing." Sources said that about 10% of sales of the new Olympic products "will go to the USOC as royalty payments" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 4/7).

  • This Is The Story Of A Champion: Jeter Close To Deal With Gillette

    Jeter Close To Inking Deal To
    Join Gillette's "Champions" Campaign
    Yankees SS Derek Jeter is "close to completing an endorsement deal" with Gillette that would have him join the company's "Champions" campaign, according to Terry Lefton in this week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. While the deal is not finalized, sources said that Jeter "shot an ad in Orlando for longtime Gillette agency BBDO during the final month of spring training." The ad is expected to break in May and will air in North America. Tiger Woods, Roger Federer and Barcelona FC F Thierry Henry currently appear in the global "Champions" ads, but Jeter "could presumably be taking the place of Henry in the campaign" in the U.S. Gillette is signing Jeter after "failing to renew a longtime sponsorship with the [Red Sox] that included signage at Fenway Park" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 4/7 issue).

  • New Contract Gives Learfield Exclusive Sales Rights At UM

    Learfield Communications Lands Exclusive
    Sales Rights At TCF Bank Stadium
    The Univ. of Minnesota (UM) and Missouri-based Learfield Communications have agreed to a 15-year, $112M contract extension that will give Learfield "exclusive rights to sales of signs and corporate sponsorships" at TCF Bank Stadium, according to Chip Scoggins of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. Learfield already handles broadcast rights for UM sports and advertising and suite sales at Mariucci Arena and Williams Arena, but the school will sell suites at the new football stadium. The deal allows both sides to "renegotiate and/or terminate the agreement'' in 2016. UM AD Joel Maturi: "We don't know what the market will be like (in eight years). If the market explodes, we can sit down with Learfield and take a look at it." Learfield also owns rights to radio broadcasts, but WCCO-AM's contract with Learfield "has not been extended beyond the original seven-year deal the sides agreed to in 2006." Highlights of the new deal include UM receiving $6.08M in '09-2010, "up from $4.7[M] under the previous deal," topping out at $9.07M in 2023-24. Also, if annual sales "exceed a predetermined threshold" that escalates from about $10.2M in the first year, the two sides "would split the extra revenue evenly" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 4/5).

  • Marketplace Round-Up

    On Long Island, Mark Herrmann reported Commerce Bank, which this week will be acquired by TD Banknorth and become known as TD Commerce Bank, is "pulling out" of sponsoring the Champions Tour tournament on Long Island after this year's event  from June 23-29. The PGA Tour, which operates the Champions Tour, "wants the venerable and resilient tournament to continue." Local golf sources "point out that TD Commerce might return for 2010.'' The bank pulled out because the "prospect of sponsoring in '09, right after another U.S. Open on Long Island, was daunting'' (NEWSDAY, 4/6).

    VOTE FOR KOBE: In Boston, Peter May wrote the Lakers' campaign for G Kobe Bryant to be named the NBA MVP, "is, well, a campaign." The team mailed out three bumper stickers that read, "Who else? Bryant 08," as well as a "large pair of red suspenders with 12 campaign buttons, six on each side" (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/6). 

    NOTES: A Vancouver-based automobile firm is advertising a car that former Canucks LW Matt Cooke was driving and endorsing before being traded to the Capitals. The buyer of the car also will receive the jersey Cooke signed as part of the promotion (VANCOUVER SUN, 4/5)....Trading card company Donruss will "unveil a line of [MMA] cards" featuring fighters Randy Couture, Matt Serra, Georges St. Pierre, Rich Franklin, Forrest Griffin and Dan Henderson (CALGARY SUN, 4/5)....Former Olympic swimmer Janet Evans has signed a one-year endorsement deal with CanolaInfo to highlight the health benefits of canola oil (THE DAILY).

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