SBJ/April 1 - 7, 2002/Marketingsponsorship

MasterCard firms MLB commitment with 'Moments'

MasterCard is telling prospective partners that it will put between $50 million and $100 million in media support behind its MLB-themed "Moments" promotion this summer. The promo will allow consumers to chose MLB's most historic moment from a menu of the game's top 25 moments.

That's probably more media than has ever backed any MLB promo, and it gives some indication as to how deeply MasterCard wants to tie itself to our national pastime. Its now-iconic "priceless" campaign started with a baseball-themed ad, crafted just before it signed its original MLB sponsorship.

A few more developments with the promo, scheduled to begin after the All-Star break: BJ's Warehouse Club has signed on as the first promotional partner other than MasterCard. Meanwhile, MLB has been assembling players to use with the program, not for endorsements as much as to have their names and image rights. Two active players in are 2001 World Series hero Luis Gonzalez and new single-season home-run king Barry Bonds. (The use of more than two active players would require MasterCard to sign a sponsorship deal with the players association.)

Ex-players on board or about to sign, which will give some indication of which "moments" are being chosen, are Cal Ripken Jr., Mark McGwire, Bobby Thomson and Ralph Branca, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron. Also obtained were the rights for deceased players Jackie Robinson, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

Sources in the agent community said MLB is paying the active players $20,000; retired players are getting $10,000. MLB gets rights to use their names and likenesses in ads and a plethora of products related to the "Moments" promo, including videos, trading cards and books for two years. Players get a percentage of sales.

Other than the anticipated ad blitz, expect MasterCard to support with a sweepstakes offering winners the opportunity to attend the World Series with a player or players who participated in one or more of the memorable moments.

HORSE COORS: Continuing to ramp up spending on sports properties, Coors last week signed on as an NFL corporate sponsor. Coors Brewing Co. also signed on its Coors Light brand as the first official beer of both Churchill Downs and the racetrack's premier event, the Kentucky Derby. The three-year, six-figure deal gains Coors exclusivity in the domestic malt beverage category.

Coors will create special packaging to support the sponsorship, including a commemorative 16-ounce can for the Kentucky Derby beginning next year. It also gets exclusive category rights to do a national beer sweepstakes or promotion, signs, program ads and commercial inventory on the TV network that broadcasts Churchill Downs' races across the country.

American Airlines signed a one-year deal and receives official-airline designation for the Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs and Arlington Park in Chicago. In addition it gets signs, ads on the ESPN network's coverage of the Derby and Kentucky Oaks races and on race simulcasts from the two tracks, program ads and hospitality.

Also in is Brown-Forman Corp., which is renewing for a number of its spirit brands. Brown-Forman is expanding its rights from just Churchill Downs to the six tracks owned by parent CDI. Woodford Reserve gets official bourbon designation at the six tracks. Other brands under the Brown-Forman umbrella are Finlandia Vodka, Fetzer Wines and Early Times Kentucky Whiskey, a vital ingredient in the Derby's "official mint julep."

TIPPING THE CAP: Fotoball, which recently renewed its MLB licenses for two years, is exercising its rights in a McDonald's promo.

McDonald's is introducing a new Brownie Sundae in June in Cleveland's 200-plus restaurants. The sundae will come in one of two plastic souvenir Cleveland Indians helmets. Fotoball hopes to take the promo to other MLB markets.

COMINGS AND GOINGS: Todd Burnette to vice president of corporate development at Mountain Sports Media, where he'll develop and sell sponsorship packages around outdoor sports magazines like Ski, Skiing and Freeze. The former AT&T sponsorship exec was vice president of corporate sales at the Ski and Snowboard Association for the past six years. ... Michael Ritz to AMG to open the Dallas-based sports marketing concern's first New York office as director of sales and business development. He was with PSP and Scholastic. ... Former NBA and Octagon marketer Peter Gumas to New York-based marketing firm Area Marketing Associates as senior partner.

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

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