SBJ/October 8 - 14, 2001/Marketingsponsorship

INSIDE THE DEAL

THE DEAL:

Audi of America signs as title sponsor of the University of Michigan Football Experience.


ESTIMATED VALUE:

$40,000-$50,000


LENGTH:

One year


DEAL MAKERS:

Maria Nahigian, event marketing manager, Audi of America; Leo Larkin, Midwest regional event manager, Visual Services Inc.; Tom Brooks, director of sports marketing, University of Michigan


KEY ELEMENTS:

 Title sponsorship of Michigan Fan Experience

  Exclusivity in automobile category

  Opportunity to display Audi automobiles at the event

  Signs at the event

  Rights to use Michigan logos in advertising and promotional collateral pieces

  Pre- and postgame hospitality and game tickets


BACKGROUND:

The Michigan Football Experience is a pregame entertainment area that attracts 20,000 to 25,000 fans on game days. Besides Audi, more than 20 other companies sponsor display areas at the event. General Motors was the title sponsor of the event last year.

Visual Services Inc. of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., is Audi's event marketing agency of record. Visual Services has regional event managers near Audi's four regional offices to review proposals and negotiate deals. The Audi regional offices are in Westlake Village, Calif.; Auburn Hills, Mich.; Alpharetta, Ga.; and Woodcliff Lake, N.J.


ANALYSIS:

Since the Michigan Football Experience is staged adjacent to Michigan Stadium, this is literally as close a commercial connection as can be made to Michigan football. Inside the stadium there are no signs and not a hint of a commercial presence, so Audi gets some prime real estate to try to reach the 100,000-plus fans who attend the games.

Audi, whose U.S. operations are based in Auburn Hills, Mich., must enjoy having a high-profile deal in the home region of the Big Three automakers, but there's more to this deal than just tweaking a competitor. The crowd at Michigan games is decidedly upscale ($90,000 average household income), and the timing is good. Audi this month launches a redesign of its entry-level A4 sedan.

This type of high-traffic marketing opportunity appeals to automakers because they find that on a Saturday afternoon, it's easier to bring the cars to the people than vice versa.


Alan Friedman (alanf100@earthlink.net) is the founder of Team Marketing Report.

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