SBJ/October 22 - 28, 2001/Marketingsponsorship

Deal will keep MLB dugouts running on Gatorade

Gatorade has renewed its longtime Major League Baseball corporate sponsorship with a five-year extension. The new deal keeps the top sports-drink brand in dugouts during the All-Star Game and World Series and adds rights for parent company Quaker Oats to market its Gatorade energy bars using MLB.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but sources said the deal included media commitments to MLB TV partners Fox and ESPN and a larger rights fee. Changing with the new deal are international rights. Gatorade's new rights are scaled down to include just North America and Puerto Rico.

Under the new contract, Gatorade is likely to run a national MLB promotion. It also is hoping to design a grassroots program, as opposed to buying one off the shelf. That's led to speculation from insiders that the "Taking It to Fields" sampling/grassroots program operated under fellow MLB sponsor (and now Quaker Oats' parent) Pepsi will wither away.

With the recent five-year extension of MasterCard, the good news for MLB is that marketers are buying in for the long haul, despite the threat of a strike or lockout when the collective-bargaining agreement expires after the World Series.

"I hope what this shows is that we understand what sponsors want, which is attention to detail and knowing what it takes to drive their sales and push their brands," said Tim Brosnan, MLB's executive vice president, business.

MLB PLANS GIVEAWAY IN AMERICAN LEAGUE CITY: Without a sponsor for the usual giveaway for the opening game of the World Series in the American League city, MLB has decided to offer a massive thank-you for all of its corporate benefactors. Thus, a commemorative World Series pin, with logos from the eight MLB clubs that qualified for postseason play, will be distributed free to fans. An attached card will include thank-yous to sponsors and fans, along with a lucky number for prize drawings during the game. Teddy bears will be given away at Game 1.

While we're on the subject of baseball giveaways, are we the only ones noticing that the ban on backpacks at MLB parks follows a season in which many teams held backpack giveaways — including several after Sept. 11?

BITS AND PIECES: Former Dallas Cowboys duo Jimmy Johnson and Troy Aikman are reunited in a forthcoming spot from BBDO for Charles Schwab, filmed in Los Angeles earlier this month. The subject, quite naturally, is retirement savings. The campaign has also included Dikembe Mutombo and Anna Kournikova. ... A few intriguing assignments for Marcomm Partners, N.Y.: selling naming rights for the new hockey arena in Bridgeport, Conn., which, given its location, equates to the best I-95 billboard in the state. Asking price is $550,000 over 10 years for the arena, which houses a new AHL team and Fairfield University's men's and women's basketball teams. Also available: the always irrepressible Jamaican Olympic bobsled team. In need of a new sled, the team is selling logo rights to its sled and whatever else it can package, including the rights to join the team, wear a uniform and march in the opening ceremonies: $300,000, and it's all yours. Dreadlocks not included.

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

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