SBD/November 27, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

Heat Become Third NBA Team With Floor Apron Deal, Signing Agreement With Samsung

Three teams, including the Heat, have sold floor-apron deals this season
The Heat are the NBA's third franchise to sign a floor apron advertising deal, per the team's new sponsorship with Samsung. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but no NBA team is pricing the new apron inventory below $1M, with one big market team asking $3M for the apron space. Samsung's deal with the Heat will put the company's logo on the hard-court in front of the both team benches. The team is looking to place the ads on the floor by its Dec. 1 home game against the Bobcats. "It's an integrated sponsorship with a good mix of assets," said Heat CRO John Vidalin. "It has a combination of assets including the apron, some LED signage, promotions, playoff options, and social media activations." The NBA earlier this year allowed teams to sell the highly visible apron inventory and the Heat now join the Pacers and Raptors as the three NBA teams to sign apron deals. Samsung is also one of the NBA's newest league partners, last month signing a reported three-year, $100M deal (John Lombardo, Staff Writer).

A TOUGH SELL SO FAR: In this week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, Terry Lefton examines why the floor apron has been a tough sell for teams, and notes marketers "familiar with the NBA said the newness of the apron signage combined with its premium price tag has made the initial year difficult." Palace Sports & Entertainment President & CEO Dennis Mannion said, "We hit the big three (Detroit automakers) pretty hard on this. With something new and with this kind of price, it needs a year to cycle through the budgets, and analysis of the big companies that would be the likely buyers." Lefton notes the apron signage officially is "being called a one-year test by the league," and there is "some question as to how easy it is to buy or sell any seven-figure piece of advertising inventory when its future is unclear." The proximity to on-court branding from an arena naming-rights partner "can also make an apron deal anywhere from tricky to impossible." Other marketers noted the "wide variety of camera-visible signage already available around NBA courts" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 11/25 issue).
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