SBD/September 5, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

Mohegan Sun Becomes Second Company To Drop Sponsorship Of Penn State Football

Connecticut-based casino Mohegan Sun has "cut ties" with the Penn State football program, as its Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs will "no longer advertise" inside PSU's Beaver Stadium, according to Christopher Heine of ADWEEK. The announcement came prior to PSU's season-opening game Saturday against Ohio Univ. Mohegan Sun joins State Farm in ending its sponsorship of the PSU football team following the release of the Freeh Report, which documented the school's shortcomings in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. However, local advertisers are "remaining loyal to the university." Pennsylvania-based grocery chain Weis Markets and Pittsburgh-based insurance agency Highmark both indicated that their "longstanding advertising relationships with Penn State will continue" (ADWEEK.com, 8/31).

TRYING TO TAKE THE NEXT STEP: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Kris Maher noted PSU aired a promo during ESPN's broadcast of the Ohio game that featured "students, professors and alumni emphasizing the school's focus on teaching, research and service." The video is "part of a broader 'Faces of Penn State' campaign that will highlight students, faculty members and alumni on posters and the Internet." However, officials behind the PR push said PSU "needs to tread carefully: It shouldn't appear to be trying to bury or minimize" the Sandusky scandal. Richard Edelman, whose PR firm is "guiding Penn State's image campaign, told trustees that the university should avoid a national goodwill advertising campaign." Edelman said, "There will be more criticism for us if we try to advertise our way out of this crisis." He did add that the school "should stop playing defense." Edelman: "Now is the time to pivot" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/1).

COSTS ADDING UP: In Pittsburgh, Debra Erdley reports PSU's costs for "legal counsel and consultants related to the Sandusky scandal" were $16.7M as of June 30. Costs included $9.97M for the school's investigation led by Louis Freeh (PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 9/5).
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