SBD/Issue 236/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

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  • A-B Ends Some Bud Light "Fan Cans" Promotions Amid Complaints

    Wisconsin, Iowa State Among
    Schools Objecting To Promo
    A-B InBev is "dropping its 'Fan Cans' promotions from communities across the country, where colleges have complained" that the effort "promotes underage drinking and infringes on trademarks," according to Emily Fredrix of the AP. The promotion "puts school colors on Bud Light cans and was launched to coincide with the start of football season." The FTC "discussed the issue with the brewer," and FTC attorney Janet Evans said that regulators were "concerned that cans will be marketed to fans under the legal drinking age of 21." It is not known how many colleges are involved, and it is "also unclear how many schools are objecting." About 25 colleges represented by Collegiate Licensing Co. sent A-B "formal letters asking it to stop the program at their campuses," and A-B said that it is "listening to the complaints." A-B VP/Corporate Social Responsibility Carol Clark in a statement said, "Certain cans are not being made available in communities where organizations asked us not to offer them" (AP, 8/25).

    CREATES A BAD ASSOCIATION: In Madison, Deborah Ziff reports an attorney for Univ. of Wisconsin last week sent a letter to A-B objecting to any effort to sell "Wisconsin beer cans adorned with the University of Wisconsin's red and white team colors." The school argued that the promotion would "create an association" between A-B and UW sports teams that does not exist. A-B promised to "end the 'Fan Cans' program in the area so as to avoid a dispute" with the school, but the brewer said that it "stands by its legal right to market Bud Light in cans with color combinations also used" by colleges (WISCONSIN STATE JOURNAL, 8/26). A-B said that the cans "would not be distributed in the community," though it is unclear whether the community "meant Madison, Dane County or the state" (, 8/25). A-B has also pulled its Univ. of Minnesota-themed cans after UM News Service Dir Daniel Wolter said the school sent a letter claiming the promo "was an infringement of U of M trademarks and that we objected to it" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 8/26).

    MORE OBJECTIONS COMING: Iowa State Univ. and Univ. of Iowa officials said that they will "write letters that object to the brewer's use of their school colors to sell cans of Bud Light." Retailers said that the "Fan Cans" have been a "hit among students" at the two schools (DES MOINES REGISTER, 8/26). Oklahoma State Univ. Dir of Communications Gary Shutt, whose school also protested the promo, said, "Color matters when it comes to marketing and packaging. People in Oklahoma connect OSU with orange" (DAILY OKLAHOMAN, 8/26).

    UPPING THE ANTE: BRAND REPUBLIC's Matt Williams reports A-B has named DDB as the "lead global ad agency for its Budweiser brand." DDB, whose Chicago office already handles Budweiser creative in the U.S., will be "responsible for helping to raise the popularity of the brand in markets where it holds a smaller presence, such as in mainland Europe and parts of Asia" (, 8/26).

  • NHRA's Force Creating "Stimulus" Package For Existing Sponsors

    Force Offering Sponsors "Stimulus" Package
    In Exchange For Contract Extensions
    NHRA team owner/driver John Force is creating his own stimulus package for his sponsors, which include Ford, Castrol, BrandSource, Auto Club of Southern California, Sanyo and others. Force says his teams, which run on a combined budget of $22M, will save between $1-1.5M this season, and he wants to return that money to his sponsors in exchange for extensions to their contracts. "I sat down and looked at what Obama did -- I ain't saying it's going to work -- but he brought up 'stimulus,' and the word 'stimulus' makes sense to me," Force said Tuesday in Charlotte at zMax Dragway's announcement that it will host a second NHRA event in '10. "I've got contracts with these sponsors and I don't have to do this, but instead of waiting for a company to go Chapter 11, why don't I try to help them. By the end of the year, I'll have sheets documented where we've cut money." A reduction in testing will represent a majority of the savings, Force said. The teams also are saving about $100,000 by warming up their cars on alcohol instead of nitro fuel, and team members are doubling up on hotel rooms and flying coach instead of first class. "We're changing the way we blew the money," Force said. "Life was good, but we've had to re-evaluate. It's tough. Things might be getting better, but we're not going to get back to where we were years ago." Force also said his team members are no longer renting cars when they travel. Instead, they go to a local Ford dealership for courtesy cars in exchange for appearances. Additionally, Force said he would like to see NHRA's HQs in Glendora, California, move to Indianapolis or Charlotte because those cities are the hubs for motorsports business.

  • Bruins Hire Boston-Based Mullen As Official Ad Agency For '09-10

    Mullen Will Work To Build Team's 
    Brand Awareness, Ticket Sales, Promos
    The Bruins have hired Boston-based Mullen as their official ad agency for the '09-10 season, according to Johnny Diaz of the BOSTON GLOBE. Mullen said that it "will work to raise the team's profile through brand awareness, ticket sales, and promotions through the Web and television." Media consultant Steve Safran said because the team has "done as well as they have in Boston, their fan base is expanding." Safran: "They want to seize a larger share of the incredible Boston sports market." Diaz notes Mullen replaces the Bruins' primary ad agency, Allen & Gerritsen, Massachusetts, which "will continue to work with projects related to TD Garden, where the Bruins play." Mullen previously worked with the team during the playoffs on a "popular campaign in March called 'Bruins Hockey Rules.'" Mullen said that it "plans to continue the campaign" when the '09-10 NHL season starts October 1. Meanwhile, Bruins Senior VP/Sales & Marketing Amy Latimer said that the team has "sold 5,000 more season tickets for home games for the upcoming season, compared to last year" (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/26).

  • SI, ESPN The Mag Both See Strong Ad Sales For NFL Preview Issue

    Both Sports Illustrated and ESPN The Magazine are "reporting strong ad-page sales for their NFL Preview issue," according to Keith Kelly of the N.Y. POST. SI's September 7 issue, which hits newsstands on September 2, "carries 80 ad pages," up 45% from the '08 NFL Preview issue. SI's college football preview issue, which hit newsstands on August 10, saw ad pages up 15% from last year. Meanwhile, ESPN The Magazine has "snagged Nike with an eight-page gatefold cover," and ESPN Publishing GM & Editorial Dir Gary Hoenig said that this year's preview issue that hits newsstands on Friday with 78 ad pages will be a "few pages fatter than the same issue a year ago" (N.Y. POST, 8/26). Both SI and ESPN The Magazine saw double-digit declines in advertising revenue and ad pages during the first half of '09. The chart below shows ad revenue and ad pages for the two magazines through June, compared to same period in '08 (Publishers Information Bureau).

    -------- AD REVENUE --------
    ----- AD PAGES -----
    % +/-
    % +/-
    Sports Illustrated
    ESPN The Magazine

  • WTA Player Caroline Wozniacki Could Be Next Big Thing On Tour

    Wozniacki Has Climbed Into
    The Top Ten In Rankings
    The "revolving search for the next big thing" on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour "has landed" on Caroline Wozniacki, according to John Branch of the N.Y. TIMES. Wozniacki has "won five WTA Tour tournaments the past two seasons," climbing into the top 10 in the rankings. But she still seeks a "defining victory to vault her into the discussion of major-tournament favorites," and until then, she "will have to be satisfied largely by being a favorite of skin-deep bloggers and fans looking for the freshest face with racket-swinging potential." Wozniacki is "now the model for Stella McCartney's line of tennis wear from Adidas, and will be wearing a frilly lilac-colored number for the United States Open, well suited for the back page of the local tabloids." Wozniacki: "I don't mind being in the spotlight. When you do well and you're an interesting person on the tour, people want to know more about you" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/26).

    DRESSED FOR THE OCCASION: Tennis player Roger Federer appeared on CNBC today and discussed the Nike-designed clothes he wears on court. Federer said his outfits for the U.S. Open include “some slight dots in the shirts that should remind people of the subway stations here.” Federer: “We always try to come up with something creative with a little background story and I think this one's nice (with) a little bold colors." Federer's signature blazer featuring his “RF” logo will be on sale at the U.S. Open, and Federer said, "That's what we’re trying to do with Nike, that the people can get something more that's linked to me" (“Squawk in the Street,” CNBC, 8/26). Meanwhile, the N.Y. OBSERVER's John Koblin wrote Federer's "much-remarked-upon modesty" from earlier in his career "has been a notable casualty" in recent years. Federer "showed up to Wimbledon this year with an oversize, white-and-gold racket bag on his shoulder," and there was a "little too much gold on everything he wore." Tennis magazine's Peter Bodo: "What's most surprising to me is that Roger doesn't seem to get it. I suspect that the Nike designers and marketing folks must come to him and fill him up with a bunch of hooey about what an 'ambassador' he is for all things traditional and he goes all weak in the knees and capitulates to one cockamamie fashion disaster after another" (, 8/25).

    ARCHITECT OF DESIGN: Tennis player Maria Sharapova at the U.S. Open will wear Tiffany & Co. earrings designed by architect Frank Gehry. The Frank Gehry Stria sterling silver and diamond earrings are available online and at Tiffany stores in the N.Y. area (Tiffany).

  • Marketplace Roundup's Darren Rovell noted AirTran's new partnership with the Falcons making it the team's official airline does not include "actually flying the team," which is similar to the agreement the Cardinals have with US Airways. Rovell noted a team "pays for their charter deals," while airlines "pay for their marketing deal;" the two are not connected. An NFL team "looks for the best price on airline fare for their charters," and AirTran "doesn't even fly NFL teams because their airplanes are too small to handle the capacity needed" (, 8/25).

    Alex Lloyd Expected To Drive Final Two Races
    This Season For Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing
    BIG WHEELS KEEP ON TURNING: In a special to AUTOWEEK, Curt Cavin reported IRL driver Alex Lloyd is "expected to reach an agreement with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing to drive its No. 06 car in the final two races of the IndyCar season and perhaps all of 2010." Lloyd will bring the HER Energy sponsorship he had during this year's Indianapolis 500 (, 8/25).

    ROUNDUP: Nike is set to release WNBA Sparks F Lisa Leslie's Blue Chip III shoe as part of the company's season-long campaign for breast cancer awareness (, 8/25)....adidas Skateboarding has signed Pete Eldridge to its team, and his first signature shoe will launch in 2010. Eldridge's first adidas ad is running this month in various skateboard publications (adidas).

  • Knowledge is power: Become a better sports marketer

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