SBD/December 7, 2011/Events and Attractions

IMG Intercollegiate Athletics Forum: College Sports Sponsorships, Marketing

Panel of marketers feel conference realignment will not hurt regional loyalties
Though college presidents in the first panel of the day of the IMG Intercollegiate Athletics Forum in N.Y. worried that realignment could hurt the regional loyalties that go along with college sports, the brand managers in the second panel said they are not too worried. UPS VP/Global Sponsorships & Events Ron Rogowski: “People are mobile, so at the end of the day, as long as there is that passion for the school there and there’s some attention … I don’t know that we’ll lose it.” IMG Senior VP/U.S. Business Development Lawton Logan: “I don’t think you’re going to have that passion go away. When you look at the natural passion of these rivalries, I think that college is now on par … with any of the professional organizations.” MillerCoors VP/Marketing Services Jackie Woodward said it is important for companies to “take a look at all of the drivers of passion and then figure out how to arrange your selling story and your proposition to alumni based on all of those components of passion.” Chick-fil-A Senior VP & CMO Steve Robinson: “College football has become more of a national passion (and) brand, but with this realignment and more national platforms for exposure, there may be an opportunity for smaller, regional brands to affiliate with specific universities.”

ECONOMIC PRESSURE: Panel participants talked about how the economy has affected their budgets and marketing plans. Rogowski: “We’ve been financially conservative through our whole 105 years. Over the last five years, we’ve expanded our sponsorship programs globally, and I think next year we’ll focus on a domestic program in college that is a relatively new program for us.” Robinson: “On a national platform all of our marketing is in college football. That is our niche. It is the one we think we can afford and afford to do well. We are not a write-a-check marketer.”

Quick Hits on marketing beer in college sports:

* Woodward: "It's very important to do this the right way. I have a 15-year-old daughter. It matters a lot to me that we market toward the right age consumers."
* Logan: "It is a sensitive category. I think most universities realize what MillerCoors is doing. They are not interested in the student and the student athletes. What they want is the connectivity with the alumni and the passion points of the community."
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