SBD/April 1, 2013/MLB Season Preview

MLB Sponsors Gear Up For Start Of Season; Home Run Derby Without Title Sponsor

Anheuser-Busch is the presenting sponsor of MLB's opening week
Some of MLB’s biggest sponsors are "rolling out new activation as the league opens its season this week," according to Terry Lefton in this week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. Anheuser-Busch, which is the "presenting sponsor of opening week, will support its league rights and its 23 club deals with team-branded cans of Budweiser in those markets and cans bearing MLB’s silhouetted batter elsewhere." A-B will "tag TV ads, have in-stadium announcements and provide wholesalers with point-of-sale materials using the 'opening week' tag." In addition, "pop-up 'build-a-bars' for Opening Day festivities are being placed outside parks." Elsewhere, P&G’s Head & Shoulders brand is "activating around a new MLB spokesman," as Angels P C.J. Wilson replaces Twins C Joe Mauer in ads from Saatchi & Saatchi, N.Y., for a "new brand extension: Head & Shoulders with Old Spice." Ad buys in some MLB markets "include integration for Whiff of the Game and the Season of the Whiff." The "big news for MLB sponsor Scotts is a baseball program with Wal-Mart." Twenty MLB-themed “retail-tainment” events will be "part of the program, including batting cages in front of stores." A refurbishment of baseball fields "in six markets is also planned, an element tied to Wal-Mart’s sponsorship" of the film "42" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 4/1 issue). Other MLB sponsors also will be rolling out activation around Opening Day and the month of April. Chevrolet/GM will be running ads launching its new Impala across MLB broadcasts throughout the month. On April 24, Firestone will activate its sponsorship involving in-stadium All-Star balloting. Meanwhile, Gatorade this month will debut product displays with MLB branding in over 500 Dick's Sporting Goods stores nationwide (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).

GOING, GOING, GONE: While there is no sponsor for the '13 Home Run Derby, Lefton cites sources as saying that MLB VP/National Sales Chris Marciani has been "shopping a derby deal, along with rights for the entire insurance category, to companies including USAA and Geico" at a price of about $8M annually. That does not include the "additional media and MLB Advanced Media digital assets it would take to support the package, which could escalate the cost" to more than $10M. State Farm previously sponsored the event, and whether one insurance brand "would want to follow another as a Home Run Derby sponsor is an intriguing question." Sources said that the league was "close to awarding the derby to new wireless sponsor T-Mobile" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 4/1 issue).
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