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SBD/January 3, 2011/Marketing and SponsorshipPrint All
MLB and Anheuser-Busch last Thursday announced that the two sides have reached a multiyear sponsorship renewal, and as a result have agreed to drop their pending litigation. The agreement designated Budweiser as the official beer sponsor of MLB, and A-B will continue to promote its signature brand through MLB-themed promotions, in-store displays and TV and print ads. Budweiser also is a sponsor of 26 MLB teams (MLB). In St. Louis, Lisa Brown noted the two sides agreed to drop the federal lawsuit over their disputed sponsorship "just days before lawyers representing the King of Beers and MLB were set to square off in a New York courtroom." A-B came "close to having the sponsorship priced out to competing brewers" as a result of the dispute regarding the value of the brewer's sponsorship. Terms of the renewed agreement were not disclosed. A-B last month filed a federal lawsuit asking a court to "enforce an agreement it made with MLB in April that the league later said was merely a letter of intent, not a contract." Brown noted less than a month after MLB and A-B reached that new deal in April, the brewer "struck a six-year sponsorship deal" with the NFL for Bud Light to replace Coors Light in '11 as the league's official beer sponsor. That deal "struck a raw nerve with MLB, which responded to the lawsuit with a counterclaim." The league "accused the brewer of 'fraudulently' inducing the league to sign the April deal by withholding information on the NFL deal" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 12/31). MLB VP/Business PR Matt Bourne said that the dispute was "centered on national promotions and other licensing issues." Bourne: "Baseball fans attending the ballparks of the 26 teams AB has a deal with will still be able to get its beers at the park. That wasn't really ever in doubt" (NYDAILYNEWS.com, 12/30). MLB Exec VP/Business Tim Brosnan: "We are all pleased that we were able to work through our differences" (WSJ.com, 12/30).
Sponsorship revenue for Saturday's Capitals-Penguins Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic increased 20% from '10 numbers, and league partners entertained guests in front of Heinz Field on a stretch of Art Rooney Drive that was dubbed “Spectator Plaza” on Friday and Saturday. McDonald's handed out approximately 6,500 samples of its new caramel mocha drink between the two days from a special RV that was finishing off a 34-city tour. Verizon let fans don hockey jerseys, helmets and gloves and snap photos in front of a green screen for a commemorative poster that printed in minutes. Roughly 2,000 fans visited the Reebok setup, where they could shoot pucks into a beat-up clothes dryer (a la a young Sidney Crosby) to win a free custom pair of Zigtech shoes. Title sponsor Bridgestone also had fans shooting pucks, but on a real goalie on loan from a local high school team. In addition, the fastest shot of the day (on Friday a fan clocked a 76-mph slap shot) won a set of Blizzak snow tires. Trading card company Upper Deck also snapped fan photos in front of a green screen, and in 45 seconds printed out a set of fan trading cards for approximately 1,800 visitors (Fred Dreier, SportsBusiness Journal).
STYLE WATCH: The GLOBE & MAIL's Roy MacGregor noted the Winter Classic was "at the centre of a merchandising orgy" last week. Capitals and Penguins vintage jerseys, as well as team hats, were "flooding ... the streets" in Pittsburgh, while the media was "on a feeding frenzy, from a reality series on HBO to a special Winter Classic section in USA Today" (GLOBE & MAIL, 1/2). YAHOO SPORTS' Sean Leahy reported despite the "ho-hum attitudes" toward the throwback jerseys the Capitals and Penguins wore in Saturday's game, "they've been a hot seller." The NHL indicated that "over 38,000 jerseys have been sold and it's been proven as you walk along every street and look inside every restaurant around Heinz Field" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/2).
Gillette on Friday announced the launch of its expanded Young Guns program by unveiling its '11 roster of six athletes: Falcons QB Matt Ryan, Ravens RB Ray Rice, Rays 3B Evan Longoria, Rockies CF Carlos Gonzalez and NASCAR drivers Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch. The six will appear in print and broadcast ads, consumer promotions, POS materials, online and PR activities. The central theme of the new ad campaign is "Be Ready." Through the Young Guns program, Gillette will give fans greater access to the six endorsers. The first opportunity is in the Jan. 10 issue of ESPN The Magazine, through which fans will be able to access exclusive video content on each of the athletes via Quick-Response Codes on their mobile devices (Gillette). In Denver, Jim Armstrong noted Gonzalez recently flew to Atlanta "to film a Gillette commercial." Gonzalez' profile "has shot up so high and so fast" following the '10 season that saw him finish third in the MVP voting that he "has hired a public-relations assistant to handle his cluttered schedule" (DENVER POST, 12/26).
Head Tennis today announced that Maria Sharapova has signed a deal to use the company's racquets during competition. Sharapova joins Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Robin Soderling as the company's endorsers (Head). TENNISREPORTERS.net's Matthew Cronin reported the five-year deal will be "similar" to the one she previously had with Prince, "somewhere in the range of $2 million annually." Sharapova will have her own signature line of racquets, as well as a junior racquet line. Sharapova last month ended her 10-year relationship with Prince (TENNISREPORTERS.net, 1/1).
NEW KICKS: In Dallas, Dwain Price noted Reebok made Mavericks G Jason Terry “his very own brand of sneakers called the Shark," adorned in the Mavericks' blue, black and white colors. The shoe features “a picture of a white shark” on the side, and has the letters CTC “emblazoned” on them. Terry: “That’s my motto for this year. Cut The Check” (STAR-TELEGRAM.com, 12/31).
LOOKING INTO THE FUTURE: Today’s WALL STREET JOURNAL has ad and marketing execs offering their predictions for ’11, and one prediction is that "more marketers will look to sponsor lifestyle activities, such as running, triathlons and yoga." Engage Marketing President Kevin Adler said, "Those sports tie to a macrotrend in individual consumers being focused on fitness and wellness" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/3).
ROUNDUP: NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski next season will drive the No. 2 Miller Lite Sprint Cup entry for Penske Racing, and he "recently took a trip to the MillerCoors brewery in Milwaukee to learn the history of Miller Lite and its history of sponsorship in NASCAR” (THATSRACIN.com, 1/1)….Actress Roseanne Barr is “secretly filming a Snickers commercial that could be slated to run during the Super Bowl” (N.Y. POST, 1/3).