SBJ/November 5 - 11, 2001/Marketingsponsorship

Inside the deal

THE DEAL:

Nextel signs as the official wireless provider of the Nashville Predators and Gaylord Entertainment Center.


ESTIMATED VALUE:

$425,000-plus annually


LENGTH:

Three-year deal


DEAL MAKERS:

Mark Garzone, marketing director, Southeast region, Nextel Communications; Tom Ward, executive vice president of business operations, Nashville Predators; Eric Guthoff, Octagon Marketing


KEY ELEMENTS:

 Category exclusivity in the wireless telecommunications category

  Title sponsorship of club- and suite-level seating area at the Gaylord Entertainment Center

  Sign and display opportunities in premium seating areas

  Dasherboard signs (pair)

  Two 30-second ads on all radio and television game broadcasts

  In-game features on video board

  Season tickets plus access to suites for selected games and arena events

  Print ad in Predators' game program

  Promotional programs, including a "Win a Day With Scott Walker" sweepstakes and the "Nextel Call to the Locker Room" feature at every game


BACKGROUND:

The deal with Nextel comes after BellSouth decided not to continue its three-year sponsorship with the team. The deal with Nextel covers only the wireless category, which leaves the Predators open to pursue deals with local and long-distance companies.

Nextel, based in Reston, Va., is the official wireless telecommunications services provider of the NHL, the NHLPA and NHL All-Star Weekend. The Southeast region office also has a sponsorship deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning and media deals with the Atlanta Thrashers and Carolina Hurricanes.


ANALYSIS:

When BellSouth did not renew its deal this summer, the Predators had the entire telecom category to sell. The team made quick work of the jewel of this category by striking a deal with Nextel, an NHL sponsor that is looking to bring its association with hockey to local markets.

Nashville is the headquarters for one of Nextel's five sales areas in the Southeast, so it's a high visibility/high priority market for the company. (Other sales offices in the Southeast are in Charlotte, Atlanta, Orlando and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

More than 90 percent of Nextel's customer base is businesses, so the company is getting a direct hit with its branding of the premium seating area at the arena. If it's activated right, it's a virtually unparalleled opportunity to get access to so many business leaders at one time. And even as the company pushes in 2002 to get more involved in the high-end consumer market, this deal gives it a good setting to soft-sell Nextel products.


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

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