SBJ/March 11 - 17, 2002/Marketingsponsorship

Minute Maid thinks Duke's Krzyzewski spells success for promotion

Duke is such a fixture at the Final Four that it's hard to argue there's a better icon for college hoops than Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski. Taking note of that, neophyte NCAA sponsor Minute Maid is enlisting the marketing power of Coach K in what's believed to be his first packaged-goods sponsorship deal. Minute Maid will offer a Coach K lithograph as a premium during the NCAA tournament. Point-of-sales will support, and the promo will be particularly strong in Atlanta — home to both this year's Final Four and Coca-Cola. Minute Maid is a Coke brand.

Pepsi has NCAA rights for soft drinks and bottled water. NCAA sponsorship agency Host brought Minute Maid into the sponsor mix last year hoping to benefit from the usual competitive instincts among the cola market leaders. Minute Maid used Bobby Knight in a TV ad that ran during the NCAA tourney last year.

As for the sudden availability of the normally marketing-shy Coach K, whose past work for Coke was limited to speaking engagements at sales meetings? "He's selective, but available for the right things," insisted Rob Urbach, executive vice president of SFX Sports Group, adding that he's pursuing a financial services deal for Coach K.

Pepsi is using Mariners star Ichiro Suzuki to chase market-share giant Coke in Japan.

ICHI-POWER: While Pepsi's plans to support its U.S. MLB sponsorship (which includes All-Star balloting at Subway) are impressive, in Japan they are even more so. Suntory Foods, which distributes Pepsi in Japan, is using the star power of Seattle Mariner Ichiro Suzuki in an attempt to battle archrival Coke.

A new $20 million campaign from Tokyo includes fans imitating Suzuki's unique stance in a line dance. There are two ads of Suzuki in uniform with the tag line of "Change the World," which may or may not be a subtle reference to Coke's overwhelming market share in Japan of more than 80 percent. Suzuki and MLB logos will be on about 15 million cases of Pepsi and Diet Pepsi. An accompanying premium-program offer dangles "replica-signed" Suzuki caps, bats and jerseys and 26 Suzuki "bottle toppers."

ON ICE: The NHL has set aside the regular out-of-market games staged overseas before the start of the season for next season. The Colorado Avalanche were in Sweden on Sept. 11 and played one of their scheduled games before returning.

The NHL had intended to play more games overseas before next season, but security concerns and eventually just a lack of planning caused the league to cancel the overseas games. Early in the planning stages, however, is a hockey World Cup competition before the 2004-05 NHL season that will be staged in Europe and the United States. Sponsorships will be sold by the NHL and the NHLPA, and officials hope to begin sales efforts in April.

GULF TEES UP MLB: Gulf Oil continues to leverage MLB with a network of team deals. Local sponsorships with the Boston Red Sox, New York Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates support an April 1-May 15 promo that offers team caps for $3.99 with a fill-up of eight gallons or more. Team media inventory and point-of-sale support the promotion, being administered by Strategic Sports Group, New York.

COMINGS AND GOINGS: DirecTV is using Clyde "The Glide" Drexler as a spokesman for its $49 Mega March Madness out-of-market NCAA tourney satellite package. The Phi Slamma Jamma alum will do a national media tour on behalf of DirecTV.

Former NHL Enterprises corporate sponsorship marketer Steve Flattow to Princeton Video Image as senior vice president of sales and marketing. He replaces Paul Slagle, who went to Octagon as senior vice president of sales in October.

Ian Lasher to ESPN in New York as director of event marketing. He was a director of corporate marketing at NHL Enterprises. ... NBA vice president of marketing partnerships Sam Strang is leaving in April to manage a family business. Ron Erskine joins the league as vice president, marketing properties, specializing in sales of grassroots events and properties. He was last with Octagon's Stamford, Conn., office. ... Cheryl McCants, director of marketing and communications for Converse, is out less than a month after the North Reading, Mass., brand relaunch at the NBA All-Star Game.

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

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