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The Cubs and White Sox have struck a three-year deal with energy brand BP to create a new Crosstown Cup for the winner of the clubs' annual six-game interleague series. The pact, announced today at Chicago's Millennium Park, will formalize what had already been a vigorous rivalry between the teams known as the Crosstown Series. Financial terms were not disclosed, but BP will gain a variety of offline and online assets, including presenting sponsor designation for what will be called the BP Crosstown Cup, and will become a sponsor of both clubs with activation beyond just this event. If the clubs split the season series this year, set for June 11-13 at Wrigley Field and June 24-27 at U.S. Cellular Field, then the winner of the final game will win the Cup. In future years, it will function similar to the Ryder Cup in which it must be won outright to take from the defending champion. "This is such an intense and heated rivalry, it's a great step forward for us and something we absolutely should be doing," said White Sox VP & CMO Brooks Boyer. "And to bring in a partner like BP, it's just a natural fit." BP will also support an instant-win Crosstown Cup-themed promotion at more than 350 of its Chicago-area gas stations with prizes including invitations to throw out a first pitch at a Cubs or White Sox home game and more than $60,000 in BP gift cards.
Craftsman Has Inked Six-Year
Licensing Deal With MLB
Sears’ Craftsman brand has inked a six-year licensing deal with MLB that allows the company to feature the logos of the league and its 30 teams on tools, storage units and garden equipment (THE DAILY). In this week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, Terry Lefton reports the line of tools "will be available online in time for Father’s Day gift purchases." Assuming "positive sales results," Sears hopes to have the officially licensed products "in its 3,900 stores in time for November and December holiday shopping." Distribution will initially be "limited to Sears," but MLB Senior VP/Licensing Howard Smith said that he "would like to expand distribution to MLB.com and the various team-operated stores across the country." Sears under the agreement "gets the rights to use team, league, All-Star Game and World Series marks on tools." Craftsman VP & GM Kris Malkoski said that a "prior arrangement with the NFL for logoed tool sheds and boxes was a hit." Lefton notes marketing efforts for the new line will include a media tour by former MLBer Curt Schilling, "point-of-sale, Sears circulars and e-mail ads to the 6 million members of Sears’ 'Craftsman Club.'" MLB "hopes there’s an opportunity to sell additional kinds of licensed product through Sears locations." The lawn and garden side of Sears "recently has moved into MLB marketing, branding grounds crews through team sponsorships" with the White Sox and Mets. But "for now the licensing and sponsorship deals are not linked" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 4/26 issue).
The Maryland Jockey Club is "turning to a controversial marketing campaign" built around the phrase "Get Your Preak On" to help improve attendance at the Preakness Stakes, according to Sam Sessa of the Baltimore SUN. The slogan has been "plastered on billboards and bus stops across the city, and featured on TV and radio stations and online." The campaign, via Elevation, DC, is "in concert with a new all-you-can-drink alcohol policy" at the Preakness, after fans last year "deserted the infield in droves" when the MJC ended the long-standing bring-your-own-beer policy. The campaign "seems to be serving its purpose" thus far, as MJC President Tom Chuckas noted that infield ticket sales are up 5% compared to this time in '08, the "last year patrons could bring their own beer and wine to the infield." Chuckas: "It reaches the demographic we're trying to reach. ... It gets them energized and involved." Sessa noted in one radio commercial, a "nerdy young volunteer at a retirement home gushes about getting his 'Preak' on with an elderly woman." Maryland state Delegate Pat McDonough: "It's creating an image and a brand that's offensive and rude. Is this the image of the Preakness and Maryland we want to have?" But Elevation Creative Dir Mike Marting said, "We wanted to create some buzz around the event. You can expect to have people come out and be opposed to this kind of language and message. We're fine with that." Chuckas added, "People like the campaign and people don't. But I will tell you one thing -- everyone has an opinion and everyone's noticed it. And after all, isn't that what advertising and marketing is all about?" (Baltimore SUN, 4/24). Maryland state Sen. Catherine Pugh: "If you correlate it with another word it may be sexually suggestive. But what we want people to do is understand Baltimore is losing money as it relates to the Preakness" (WJZ.com, 4/24).
"Get Your Preak On" Slogan Has Been Plastered
On Billboards, Bus Stops Across Baltimore
Michigan State Unveils
New Nike Uniforms
Michigan State Univ.'s new Nike athletic uniforms, which were unveiled on Friday, are "part of a two-year re-branding and identity quest, marked by changes among the font, design, fabric and color," according to Shawn Windsor of the DETROIT FREE PRESS. The "cheery old Spartan green" is now gone and in its place is a "deeper, darker shade, one meant to conjure authority and aggression." MSU AD Mark Hollis said that Nike "tried dozens of shades to achieve the perfect look, one that suggested old Spartan lore." Hollis "wanted to outfit every team on campus with the same color and font." He said, "There has been a lack of consistency with regard to our brand." Windsor reported Hollis believed that the "lack of consistency was a weakness," so he "asked Nike to help centralize the brand." Nike "already had outfitted several MSU teams," and now it will outfit all 25. The "only thing that remained the same was the actual Spartan helmet logo." MSU "wanted to change that, too, but backed away when a prototype leaked out in February and too many alumni and fans protested" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 4/24). MSU QB Kirk Cousins said of the new uniforms, "I like the fact it's a deal that's across all sports. There were a lot of different logos and colors in different sports. It's a good way to unify us all together as one. ... The color will stick out to you when you first see it, especially the home jersey which has more green" (DETROIT NEWS, 4/24).
Procter & Gamble on Friday announced that its Gillette brand will sponsor the June 6 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway. The event will be titled the Gillette Fusion ProGlide 500 Presented by Target. The date of the race coincides with the launch of the Gillette Fusion ProGlide shaving system. All the Gillette Young Guns drivers -- Clint Bowyer, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin Kasey Kahne and Joey Logano -- as well as Ryan Newman will be giving away tickets to the race through various outlets (P&G). In Philadelphia, Pete Schnatz wrote the announcement is a "move that could be viewed as a financial inevitability and/or a break with tradition for the family-owned racetrack," as it marks the "first time since 1996 that Pocono's main spring event will carry a corporate name." Though Pocono Raceway President Brandon Igdalsky "hailed the new partnership as 'a match made in heaven,' it seems a far cry from the stance taken by Joe 'Doc' Mattioli -- the track's founder and Igdalsky's grandfather -- who over the last decade and a half sneered while other speedway owners signed away their naming rights to the highest bidder." Igdalsky said, "The sport has definitely changed. We need to sell tickets, and if doing this kind of thing will give us a farther reach to sell tickets, that's what we'll do" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 4/24). Igdalsky said that it "took 'some convincing' for Dr. Mattioli to sign off on the one-year deal, especially since the Pocono name was being taken out of the title." But Igdalsky added, "Once he saw the value of what we're getting out of it and what we're able to do with it, he agreed that the timing and the partner was right and that we could talk" (Scranton TIMES-TRIBUNE, 4/24).
Kahne Hoping Budweiser
Will Follow Him To HMS
NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick yesterday said that Hendrick Motorsports Exec VP & GM Marshall Carlson "has talked with Anheuser Busch officials about the possibility of Budweiser becoming a team sponsor after this season." Budweiser is "looking for a new partner after its contract expires with Kasey Kahne and Richard Petty Motorsports after this season." Kahne, who recently signed a contract with HMS to replace Mark Martin in the No. 5 Sprint Cup entry in '12 and a car to be determined in '11, has said that he "would like to continue his relationship with Budweiser if possible." There were reports HMS "could not bring in Budweiser" due to the team's relationship with Pepsi, but Hendrick said it "depends on which car it's on." Hendrick: "In our deals we have rights of first refusal. We've got to go through that, but we're talking to anybody." He said that there is "nothing new to report on where Kahne will drive next season" (ESPN.com, 4/25).
NEWS BREAKER: In Charlotte, Brant James reported driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. "remained unamused that Fox TV analyst Darrell Waltrip apparently broke the news of his deal to race a No. 3 Wrangler-sponsored Chevrolet" in the July 2 NASCAR Nationwide Series Subway Jalapeño 250 powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona Int'l Speedway, "ruining a news conference Thursday." Earnhardt said, "DW sort of blew the lid off of it, on Twitter nonetheless. ... It's unfortunate that DW uncovered that and the way it went down because we didn't want to have to announce it like this" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/24).
PRESS WATCH: MARKETING DAILY's David Goetzl reports PR Newswire earlier this month debuted "its logo on a Ford" driven by Dion von Moltke in the Grand-Am series. The logo is "next to McDonald's and South African Airways," and it "will stay there for eight more races through Sept. 11." All of the races are "televised on the Speed network." PR Newswire VP/PR Rachel Meranus said that the sponsorship "marks the B-to-B service's first 'foray' into 'this type' of sports or event promotion." The company "runs some trade ads and uses multiple lead-generation avenues" (MARKETING DAILY, 4/26 issue).
PATRIOT ACT: Aaron's will honor the Armed Forces Foundation with a commemorative racecar at the May 30 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The paint scheme for Michael Waltrip Racing's No. 00 Toyota driven by David Reutimann will feature a red, white and blue design (Aaron's).
In this week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, Terry Lefton reports Yankees P CC Sabathia, Rays 3B Evan Longoria and Tigers RF Johnny Damon will "appear in uniform as part of MLB sponsor Pepsi's annual MLB ad." The new creative, from TBWA\Chiat\Day, is "scheduled to break in May supporting Pepsi's 13-year sponsorship" of the league. The ad "ties into the Pepsi Refresh Project cause-related effort" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 4/26 issue).
Hublot Will Offer "Big Bang" Watch That
Features Bode Miller's Signature As Part Of Deal
IT'S MILLER TIME: Swiss watchmaker Hublot has renewed its contract with U.S. skier Bode Miller through the '11 World Championships. Financial terms of the agreement are not available. Hublot will offer a black and white watch called the "Big Bang" that features Miller's signature. Miller, who won Gold, Silver and Bronze medals at the Vancouver Games, has said he expects to ski in the future but he has not committed to any races. Miller at the Hublot press conference Friday said, "I don't really know about retiring. ... It takes time (to make a decision) and I sort of have to meet with the (US Ski) team." Hublot is the first sponsor to renew with Miller after the Olympics. The deal builds on a series of sports property sponsorships it signed over the last year with FIFA and F1 (Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal).
FROM COAST-TO-COAST: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Darren Everson reports since DH Hideki Matsui signed with the Angels this offseason, "signs of his time" with the Yankees have "been disappearing." Japanese newspaper company Yomiuri Shimbun "pulled its ad from the Yankee Stadium right-field wall beginning this season," while Japan-based equipment manufacturer Komatsu said that it "doesn't expect to continue when its contract expires after this season." Komatsu has "taken out an ad" at Angel Stadium. A source noted that the Yankees earned as much as $3M annually from Japanese sponsorship deals (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 4/26).
TIME TO SAY GOODBYE: In Detroit, Greg Gardner reported Chevrolet is "ending its 90-year relationship" with Campbell-Ewald, the local ad agency that created campaigns such as "Like a Rock" and "See the USA in Your Chevrolet." The manufacturer is "shifting its truck advertising to Publicis Groupe offices in Dallas and Seattle four months after that agency took over the account for Chevy's passenger cars and crossover vehicles." Chevrolet's creative account is worth an estimated $30M annually (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 4/24).