SBJ/June 25 - July 1, 2001/Marketingsponsorship

Inside the deal

THE DEAL

Cricket Comfortable Wireless signs sponsorship deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates.


ESTIMATED VALUE/LENGTH

$100,000/One year with option to renew


DEAL MAKERS

Scott Jones, general manager, Pittsburgh, Cricket Comfortable Wireless; Mark Ferraco, director corporate sales, Pittsburgh Pirates; Milana Miljenovic, media director, Flaherty Sabol Carroll marketing agency


KEY ELEMENTS

 Title sponsorship of the "Most Comfortable Seats in the House" promotion at PNC Park

  Public address announcements before the first pitch

  Display of logo on video board during sports highlights video

  Seasonlong radio sponsorship, including two spots on all broadcasts for announcer reads or commercials

  Fixed sign panel in right-field area


BACKGROUND

The promotion sponsorship allows Cricket to put two green couches in an open area in the right-field concourse. The couches, a symbol of the company, are used by selected fans to watch the game. A blue banner behind the couches displays the Cricket logo.

The sponsorship was timed to support Cricket's mid-June introduction to the Pittsburgh market, the largest market served by the company. Cricket has nine retail locations in the market plus more than 360 dealers that sell the service.

Cricket is positioned as an easy-to-use cellular service and aims for the 65 percent of consumers who don't have wireless phones. Primary target groups are busy moms, seniors and teens. The company, a division of San Diego-based Leap Wireless International, is in more than a dozen markets with plans to launch this summer in Phoenix. Other markets include Chattanooga, Nashville, Knoxville and Memphis, Tenn.; Tulsa, Okla.; Greensboro and Charlotte, N.C.; Little Rock, Ark.; Salt Lake City; and Tucson, Ariz.


ANALYSIS

Cricket usually waits until it is established in a market before signing a sponsorship deal, but the new ballpark in Pittsburgh proved an irresistible lure. And that's good for the company because the presence of the two green couches will give Cricket immediate visibility. The display of a company symbol like the green couches is more memorable than any piece of static signage. Television cameras and curious fans are sure to notice the presence of the couches, and that means additional exposure for the company. Given the crowds that will come to PNC Park this summer, Cricket is getting a bargain and an effective way to gain visibility for its new service.


OTHER NEW DEALS

 Rollerblade has agreed to a sponsorship agreement with 14 Skate School programs, which teach basic safety skills. Rollerblade will supply skates and safety equipment to Skate School instructors and participants. Skate Schools are located in Chicago; Pittsburgh; Philadelphia; Detroit; Austin, Texas; San Francisco; Southern California; Anchorage, Alaska; Salt Lake City; Cleveland; Washington, D.C.; Minneapolis; Toronto and St-Ferreol, Quebec.

  Chi-Chi's Inc. Mexican food restaurant was named the official sponsor of the Big 33 Football Classic, the annual high school all-star game in Hershey Park, Pa. The game, which features high school students from Ohio and Pennsylvania, will be held July 21.

  The Fresno Grizzlies hired MGO Marketing Group to secure corporate sponsors for the team's new 12,500-seat downtown stadium. Construction began June 1 on the stadium, which will play host to 72 games for the San Francisco Giants' Class AAA affiliate, as well as soccer matches and concerts. MGO, based in Lafayette, Calif., has worked with the NBA's Vancouver Grizzlies, the Oakland A's Class AAA affiliate Sacramento River Cats and the East-West Shrine Game.

Source: Street & Smith's SportsBusiness Journal research.

Alan Friedman (alanf100@excite.com) is the founder of Team Marketing Report.

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