SBD/Issue 112/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

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  • GM Cutting Spending For Final Four, May Not Renew NCAA Deal

    General Motors Thursday stated that it is "cutting on-site spending" for this year's NCAA men's basketball Final Four at Ford Field by at least 60%, and "might end its 25-year sponsorship" with the NCAA when its contract expires after this season, according to Curtis Eichelberger of BLOOMBERG NEWS. GM General Dir of Marketing & Entertainment Alliances Steve Tihanyi indicated that while the Final Four is taking place in Detroit, where GM is headquartered, the company is "trimming dealer-incentive trips to the championship rounds and billboards downtown." GM, which has already received $13.4B in TARP funding, Thursday reported a net Q4 loss of $9.6B. Tihanyi said of the company's spending, "If it's not mission critical, we're not doing it. We can't be stupid about how we do things here." Tihanyi added that the manufacturer "shelved a program for top-selling dealers that included tickets to the Final Four, business meetings and entertainment." GM Communications Manager Kelly Cusinato noted that there are "no advertising or marketing restrictions attached to the government loans or the company's viability plan" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 2/26). 

    FINAL COUNTDOWN:'s Darren Rovell reported GM, whose Pontiac brand is the official car of the NCAA, is "not inviting anyone to watch" the Final Four from the luxury suites at Ford Field. GM's Larry Peck, promotions manager for Buick and Pontiac, said that the manufacturer is "in the process of trying to sell the suites." Peck: "We will use the sports properties that we have contracts with to advertise and promote the products, but there are no hospitality or motivational type programs associated with those properties." However, Rovell noted there still will be "plenty of Pontiac ads on CBS' coverage" of the NCAA tournament due to contractual obligations. Meanwhile, Peck said that GMs Buick brand is "contractually obligated to sponsor" the PGA Tour Buick Invitational and Buick Open through '10, and indicated that there still is "value in those title sponsorships." But Rovell noted Buick "massively cut back on its hospitality for the Buick Invitational earlier this month," and the "small hospitality tent that was overlooking the 18th green" at the event will not be in place for this year's Buick Open from July 30-August 2 (, 2/26). CNBC’s Donny Deutsch said of GM, “What it’s showing is they’re listening. What they’re recognizing is we live in a world right now where there is a tremendous sensitivity to any institution taking government money.” But CNBC’s Dennis Kneale disagreed, saying, “It’s silly. They’re overreacting.” Rovell: “Who’s to say what the return on investment is? Is the government going to say?” (“Power Lunch,” CNBC, 2/26).

    PROCEED WITH CAUTION? PGA Tour Exec VP/Communications & Int'l Relations Ty Votaw, when asked if sports marketing is "being singled out" amid criticism surrounding spending habits of federally-aided companies, said, "Some of these institutions are still advertising on television and that spending isn't being criticized" (, 2/26). MEDIAPOST's James Gregory writes, "There is no rulebook for how to use TARP money. Lately, any company stepping outside the 'normal' lines of thought will get nailed by the media or humiliated by Congress. Is that really where we want to wind up?" (, 2/27).

  • Wachovia Name Will Not Appear On PGA Tour's Charlotte Stop

    Wachovia's name will not appear in the name of the '09 PGA Tour tournament it sponsors in Charlotte, according to multiple sources close to the tournament. Wells Fargo bought the Charlotte-based bank last fall and intended to call the event the Wachovia Championship in '09, but recent public backlash against marketing expenditures of financial firms resulted in the bank pulling all non-contractual spending as well as its name from the tournament. Sources said the name of the tournament will include the host course, Quail Hollow. The future involvement of Wells Fargo in the tournament is undecided, said sources, but by acquiring Wachovia, Wells is under contract to title sponsor the tournament through 2014. The fate of the on-course branding could not be determined (THE DAILY).

    TOO MUCH OF A GOOD THING? In Charlotte, Peter St. Onge writes under the header, "Is Golf A Splurge Or Local Surge?" Wells Fargo Senior VP & Corporate Communications Manager Mary Beth Navarro said that the company is "reducing costs of the tournament, including some related to client entertainment," but the "specifics haven't been determined." St. Onge notes the tournament has "cultivated a reputation on the Tour as a top-notch tournament, from the cars the players drive in Charlotte to the perks their wives get to the swankiness of the corporate parties." The PGA Tour's "elite don't come to Charlotte merely for the pricey perks," but the tournament's "glossy feel certainly contributes to the lure." Even if those perks "stay intact, cutting some non-player luxuries means cutting back on things local businesses provide." St. Onge: "Excess helps stir commerce -- in this case, our commerce" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 2/27).

  • CBS Says Ad Space About 90% Sold Out For NCAA Men's Hoop Tourney

    NCAA Tourny Has Several
    New Advertisers
    CBS Sports Exec VP/Sales John Bogusz said that advertising for CBS' upcoming coverage of the NCAA men's basketball tournament is "approximately 90[%] sold out at prices that are roughly in line with last year," according to Steve McClellan of ADWEEK. New advertisers this year include Charles Schwab, Hershey and Audi. However, Liberty Mutual, which sponsored the coverage last year, is "not returning." Bogusz said that this year's televised tournament coverage, scheduled to begin March 19, is "commanding roughly the same pricing as last year, although some buyers are reporting price hikes of 2-3[%], depending on the package." The total volume of network sales is "expected to be about even with last year" at about $430M. Sources said that a 30-second spot in the Final Four and championship game is "priced between [$1.3-1.4M], while spots in earlier rounds are going for about $350,000, similar to last year's prices." GM, Coca-Cola and AT&T will "return as top-tier sponsors of the telecast." Meanwhile, Bogusz said that while broadcast sales are "flat, the network's online March Madness On Demand video-streaming service will grow significantly this year in both audience and ad revenue." He estimated that the level of growth for both of those metrics would be "in the high-teen or low-20[%] range" (, 2/25). BROADCASTING & CABLE's Claire Atkinson reports CBS is "working with a number of advertising and marketing partners" who help support the tournament, including Enterprise Rent-a-Car, The Hartford Financial Group, Lowe's, State Farm and Starwood Hotels. But Bogusz "described the online marketplace as being equally challenged overall." Bogusz: "We've done OK with auto business, movies will be up and financial business is down" (, 2/25).

  • New Eyewear Fashion: Dwyane Wade Starts Unique Band-Aid Trend

    Wade Has Been Amazed By
    Fans Copying Band-Aid Trend
    Heat G Dwyane Wade has "not only made it kind of cool to wear a Band-Aid with his own name on it across his face, but he got half an arena full of people to wear one, too," according to Israel Gutierrez of the MIAMI HERALD. Wade began wearing a Band-Aid to protect several stitches under his left eye that resulted from being hit by Bobcats F Juwan Howard on February 8. Wade wore an American flag bandage for two games. He then went from a "patriotic bandage to an All-Star design to one with 'Wade' on it to the largest release, a 'Flash' bandage, complete with a lightning bolt." In the process, Wade has transformed the trend of wearing Band-Aids "from kind of cool to an all-out trend." Wade said of Heat fans copying the style at recent home games, "I was kind of amazed by it. ... It's like, hey, when you do things, certain people will look at it and think it's kind of cool." Wade said of the name of the bandage, "I'm going back and forth. I like Band-Wades, but Wade-Bands as well. It's kind of like bandage and Band-Aid. You could say either one." Gutierrez writes the NBA might ask Wade "to lose the look entirely" or "require a bandage with the NBA logo on it." Either way, Wade's injury "has to close up some time." Wade: "Hopefully by then, my website will be up. And people will already know how to get custom Wade-Bands" (MIAMI HERALD, 2/27). Rapper Lil Wayne appeared at Tuesday's Pistons-Heat game at AmericanAirlines Arena sporting a "Wade-Aid," and ESPN's Tim Legler said, "When Lil Wayne puts it on, you know it has arrived." Wade after the game jokingly said, "You can go get it at" ("NBA Fastbreak," ESPN, 2/24).

  • Wheels & Deals: Ford Not Looking To Up NASCAR Sponsorship

    Ford Racing NASCAR Marketing Manager Tim Duerr said that the manufacturer is "not looking to increase its sponsorship" in NASCAR. Duerr: "That's certainly because of the economy." But in Las Vegas, Mark Hansel reports there is "buzz that the redesigned Taurus could replace the Fusion as the Car of Tomorrow" in NASCAR's Nationwide Series. Duerr did not confirm the rumors, but indicated that NASCAR has "told Ford which car it wants for the Nationwide series and it's not the Fusion" (LAS VEGAS SUN, 2/27).

    LAP OF LUXURY: USA TODAY's Gary Graves writes Shelby Automobile's (SA) title sponsorship of this weekend's Sprint Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS) "also ties in with Sin City's subculture of high-six-figure luxury cars." SA Founder Carroll Shelby, who invented the Cobra race car, said that he "understands the perception that such extravagances conflict with automotive industry woes and the economic downturn but said interest in his machines remain strong among car enthusiasts." LVMS President Chris Powell said that he "wasn't about to turn down any race sponsorship in a down climate" (USA TODAY, 2/27).

    TIME TO DIG A HOLE? The ORLANDO SENTINEL’s Matt Humphrey recently posed a question on Twitter and Facebook asking readers, "Would you rather see a Dale Earnhardt Jr. win or a Digger disappearance on Fox TV?" Humphrey: "Much to my surprise, a Dale Earnhardt Jr. win finished in second place! There's apparently no love for the NASCAR on Fox Gopher-cam mascot" (, 2/26).

    SPONSORSHIP NOTES: Golden Corral will sponsor Yates Racing’s No. 28 entry driven by Travis Kvapil for the next three Sprint Cup races at Las Vegas, Atlanta and Bristol. Golden Corral will also continue its “Race for America’s Families” promo....Red Bank Outfitters will continue its sponsorship of Tommy Baldwin Racing’s No. 36 Sprint Cup Toyota driven by Scott Riggs through this weekend's Shelby 427 (THE DAILY).

  • Marketplace Roundup

    REUTERS' Antonella Ciancio reported 15 top European soccer clubs are "under pressure to renew their shirt sponsorships by next season as their contracts expire amid the economic downturn." Jersey sponsorships have "commonly been considered immune to the financial crisis because of their long duration and large media exposure," but analysts "expect tough times ahead for clubs with troubled owners or smaller appeal." While experts indicated that it is "unlikely that top clubs such as Manchester United will be unable to sign lucrative new deals, smaller clubs may have to accept lower income" (REUTERS, 2/26).

    Yankees Official '09 Cap Features
    Patch Commemorating New Stadium
    TRY THIS ON FOR SIZE: On Long Island, Neil Best reports MLB Thursday unveiled the Yankees' official cap for the '09 season, which features a patch commemorating the opening of the new Yankee Stadium. The patch is the "first of its kind to ever appear on the back of an official MLB Authentic Collection cap." The cap officially debuts on Opening Day and be available for purchase starting this Sunday at retailers and on (NEWSDAY, 2/27). In N.Y., Tyler Kepner wrote of the new cap, "I'll let you be the judge as to whether it's a good idea or not, but it strikes me as overkill" (, 2/26). The Mets also will wear new caps this season.

    FLYING HIGH:'s Darren Rovell reported the NBA has released a new T-shirt around Knicks G Nate Robinson after a "licensing issue derailed the initial 'Krypto-Nate' shirts, which were never made." In addition, Nike reportedly is planning to release the green Nike shoes Robinson wore during the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest in "limited edition quantities" in March (, 2/26).

    SKI JUMP: VANOC Dir of Licensing & Merchandising Dennis Kim said that souvenir sales surrounding the '10 Vancouver Games "bucked the national trend" and increased to C$1.6M over the "three-month Christmas period," up 49% from C$1.1M for the year ago period (Vancouver PROVINCE, 2/27).

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