SBD/April 8, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

NCAA Forces Cowboys To Cover AT&T Ads, Lets Naming Rights Sign Stay Visible

AT&T Stadium's exterior signage was exempt from the NCAA mandate
The NCAA is "a stickler when it comes to corporate partnerships," but it was "a bit of a mystery why AT&T’s usually ubiquitous globe logos were also covered from public view" during the Final Four at AT&T Stadium, according to Cheryl Hall of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. AT&T is a "member of the NCAA’s beloved corporate trio," along with Capital One and Coca-Cola. Cowboys Senior Dir of Corporate Communications & Strategic Event Planning Brett Daniels said that the team had to "agree to cloak all advertisements" in order to host the event. The AT&T Stadium sign, "part of its naming rights deal, was exempted from the NCAA no-advertising mandate." Meanwhile, Capital One "made its presence known with bright orange seat cushions for every seat holder" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 4/8). In Ft. Worth, Mac Engel noted the Final Four is "like the Olympics" in that when fans "walk into AT&T Stadium they will see no corporate sponsors anywhere" other than the AT&T Stadium signage. All of the ads "are covered, thus keeping up the charade that the Final Four is somehow a cute little nonprofit little league basketball game run by the local PTA." The only sponsors seen were "the big ones that paid the NCAA millions -- Coke, AT&T and Capital One" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 4/6).

MONEYGRABBER: In N.Y., Steve Eder wrote one of the "few mainstays" of this year's NCAA Tournament was "the prominence of the logos of corporate sponsors alongside the NCAA's." Nineteen major partners and corporate supporters were "listed in the official fan guide of the Final Four." The NCAA's opponents are using the commercial nature of the event "as fresh ammunition with the model for college athletics increasingly under siege." The NCAA has "aggressively monetized nearly every aspect of its championships while it forbids players to negotiate paid endorsement deals." It has said that the branding in the tournament "is not much different from that seen at universities around the country in the football and basketball seasons." The association also "disputes the notion that athletes are forced to pitch products." NCAA Exec VP/Championships & Alliances Mark Lewis said, "We don’t force anybody to do anything. There is no requirement that anybody drink anything or hold anything of any kind." Powerade was "among the most visible" brands during the tournament in a "crowded field of sponsors." Wisconsin F Zach Bohannon said that he was "walking onto the court of the Badgers’ closed shootaround with a bottle of Nestlé Pure Life water" and "was stopped by a security guard" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/6).

ADS: In N.Y., Reed Tucker wrote, "Slogging through the repetitive ads that seem to pop up after each made basket has become as unpleasant a rite of spring as pollen or rain showers." The "time is right to crown another champion: the NCAA tourney's most annoying ad," and a "Final Four was selected." Dish Network's kangaroo ad emerged from the "Unfunny Animal Region," while Subway's "Cruncha Muncha" spot claimed the "Horrific Jingle Region" title. Capital One's creative starring Samuel L. Jackson took the "Badgering Spokesman Region," and Allstate's Mayhem guy came out on top of the "Thin Premise Region." The "overall champion" for most annoying ad is Subway (, 4/7).
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