SBJ/November 5 - 11, 2001/Marketingsponsorship

Minute Maid nears a juicy deal with the NCAA

Minute Maid is close to inking a one-year deal as an NCAA corporate partner in the juice category, last owned by Ocean Spray. The most intriguing aspect of the deal is that it brings the marketing power of Coke, Minute Maid's parent, to the NCAA. The NCAA happens to have PepsiCo as a sponsor in soda and water, as well as in salty snacks categories with Frito-Lay. Pepsi, however, passed on its first look at the juice category.

With all the NCAA corporate deals up after this year, does this mean Coke and Pepsi will compete for a broad-based deal next time around? Activation for the Minute Maid sponsorship is expected mainly at local retailers for the men's Final Four in Atlanta and the women's Final Four in San Antonio. Ocean Spray normally achieved enough annually in local incremental sales around the Final Four to pay for its NCAA sponsorship.

WINTER SPORTS DRAWS: Whither the stick and ball sports as marketing vehicles? Some recent deals by the U.S. governing bodies of two important Winter Olympic sports show that marketers may have more faith in those sports for now. Take the recent five-year deal inked by Verizon and the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation. Sources pegged the deal at a high six figures per year for five years, which would make one of the biggest — if not the biggest — national governing body sponsorships this year. Verizon grabbed the largest sponsorship in a sport where, unlike most winter athletics, the United States has a good chance of grabbing gold.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association has a flurry of packaged-goods marketers on board for consumer promos. Carnation Hot Cocoa has team members on more than 17 million packages in grocery stores across the country, with an accompanying sweepstakes offering a free ski trip, supported by point-of-sale distribution and a 40 million circulation free-standing insert dropping Dec. 9. Dannon has USSA athletes featured on 130 million 8-ounce yogurt cups in a continuity program.

Lipton has skier Kirsten Clark on millions of pouched soup and rice products and is offering a U.S. Ski team pin with proofs of purchase.

Meanwhile the NHL, halting play for its Olympic participation, has just Anheuser-Busch and Coke lending limited marketing support to its Olympic effort. An NHLPA deal with Domino's was scuttled even after the pizza marketer signed a letter of intent.

MAGAZINE RELAUNCH: Professional Sports Publications is relaunching its NBA-licensed Hoop magazine as a lifestyle publication starting this month. The magazine, with 2.5 million circulation, is available at NBA arenas as a game program and on newsstands. It follows the lead of hoop lifestyle magazines such as Source and Slam, as well as PSP's Inside Stuff, which veered toward more off-court features of NBA players last years. Like Inside Stuff, Hoop's editorial content is now written outside of the league offices but still must pass NBA muster.

"Our mission is to show players as they really are, and that should help newsstand and sub sales," said PSP Chief Operating Officer Thom Herring.

RETRO FOOTBALL WEAR: The holidays are always rife with nostalgia, so NFL licensee Reebok is jumping in with a line of retro Gridiron Classic apparel. The four teams playing on Thanksgiving (Dallas is hosting Denver and Green Bay visits Detroit) will be decked out in retro uniforms. Dallas will wear a version of its 1995 jersey. Denver will revisit its 1986 togs, Detroit will wear the jerseys its team wore between 1935 and 1953 and Green Bay will sport a re-creation of its 1939 jersey. Distribution will be restricted to NFL team shops (Dunham's in Detroit), Home Shopping Network and nfl.com. The full line will include caps, fleece, sweats, T-shirts and jerseys. The licensing program, reminiscent of the NFL's 75th anniversary throwback program in 1994, will be expanded to more teams next season.

EXTRA INNINGS: Former NHL senior vice president/COO Steve Solomon has opened SJS Sports in New York, a broad-based sports marketing practice. Early clients include MLS and the Ottawa Senators. And ex-ISL U.S. marketer John Rowadie has put out his own shingle as Revolution Marketing. Chicago-based Revolution is operating within event marketing firm ProActive, a minority investor. ... Matt Mirchin joined Russell Athletic as president of team sports. The former NBA and Champion licensing exec will be based in Russell's Atlanta offices. ... Richy Glassberg goes to Speed Channel as senior vice president, ad sales, based in New York. He was chairman/CEO of defunct Internet rep firm Phase2Media.

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

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