SBJ/September 17 - 23, 2001/Marketingsponsorship

MBNA sticks with NHL, signs 5-year extension through 2006-07

Shaken in the off-season by the loss of key sponsors Wendy's, IBM and NorTel, the NHL is finding some solace in a long-term renewal by credit-card issuer MBNA and by two Canadian-only sponsorships, Mennen Speed Stick and Duracell.

MBNA's five-year extension through the 2006-07 season includes for the first time rights in the United Kingdom. The deal, however, is testimony to fans' affinity for hockey in Canada, where card-issuing banks must choose between MasterCard and Visa, rather than the system practiced in the United States under which banks can issue both brands.

MBNA has separate deals with 16 NHL team, including five of six Canadian teams. The league is in the third and final year of a separate deal with MasterCard, but since that brand marches to the tune played by its largest member banks, a MasterCard renewal appears a certainty. No TV buys are included in the package, but NHL sponsorship chief Andrew Judelson said it does call for a significant buy on nhl.com.

Meanwhile, Gillette-owned Duracell is expected to fortify its sponsorship with an on-package All-Star Game promo starting after Christmas. ... Kraft/Nabisco has renewed its sponsorship for another three years. The company has been a Canadian NHL sponsor for 10 years and has enhanced it sponsorship with products like team- and league-branded cookies and crackers. ... Having previously re-signed Coke (for Powerade) for another five years and Dodge for another three, finding a quick-serve restaurant to replace Wendy's and technology and telecom sponsors to replace IBM and NorTel are now top priorities.

VERIZON READY TO RE-UP WITH ATLANTIC 10: Verizon is close to a one-year, $500,000 deal to renew its lead sponsorship of the Atlantic 10 Conference. Verizon continues as title sponsor of all conference championships, including the men's basketball tournament at Philadelphia's Spectrum from March 6-9. The package also includes two 30-second spots on each of 35 scheduled regular-season Atlantic 10 men's basketball telecasts and signage at all conference championships. Promotional plans are incomplete. Verizon has held the sponsorship for the past three years, using it to leverage its cellular, 411, DSL, yellow pages and long-distance units.

COMINGS AND GOINGS: A familiar face in sponsorship circles, Randy Bernstein, figured largely in Yahoo!'s new five-year World Cup Sponsorship. Bernstein is the former MLS sponsorship chief. Bernstein, who has been Yahoo!'s vice president of sales development for two years, gets a new title: vice president, Yahoo!/Fifa World Cup Partnership. Not coincidentally, Bernstein had executed a sponsorship with Yahoo! when he was still at MLS. ... Richy Glassberg becomes senior vice president, ad sales, for Speedvision, the Fox-owned motor sports network. He'll be based in New York and report to Lou LaTorre, president of ad sales for Fox Cable. Glassberg was chairman/CEO of Phase2Media, an Internet ad rep firm that closed its doors earlier this year. ... Deborah Hughes becomes vice president, global sponsorships and event marketing, at MasterCard. She'll head the brand's World Cup efforts, a function previously performed by Meltem Tekeli, who left in June. Hughes has been with MasterCard since 1987. She worked on the brand's European soccer programs. ... Former NBA and XFL marketer Michelle Difilippantonio, serving as a consultant to the U.S. Tennis Association for the last month, is expected to accept in October the governing body's long-vacant position of director of marketing.

Terry Lefton can be reached at tlefton@amcity.com.

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