SBJ/June 9 - 15, 2003/Marketingsponsorship

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  • Mets, ESPN Zone, Pepsi lure fans while team’s away

    The ESPN Zone, Pepsi and the New York Mets have beefed up a promotion this year that showed promise last season, establishing the Times Square ESPN Zone
    as Mets' fans "Home When the Mets Are on the Road." For 58 Mets road games — every game from May 23 on — visitors to the Zone receive scratch-off cards with a Mets player named. If that player hits a home run, the card holder receives two tickets to a coming Mets game.

    Met Jeromy Burnitz hit a grand slam in the kickoff game. The promotion has drawn about 100 people each game, which satisfies

    Game cards give Times Square ESPN Zone visitors a crack at winning Mets seats.
    the promoters, according to Nina Roth, ESPN Zone senior marketing manager. "We noticed last year that a number of guests were coming back and winning multiple times, and that's promising," she said.

    Last year's promotion was for 40 games. This year the effort is backed by more media, including a radio schedule determined by Pepsi, PA announcements and coupon distribution at Shea Stadium, along with T-shirt launches with coupons tucked inside, e-mail blasts by the Mets and ESPN Zone. An insert of scratch cards into editions of the New York Daily News, a Mets sponsor, is a possibility, Roth said. "With the Daily News it's a timing issue, plus some of the costs involved, when you print something for every copy."

    "The aim this year was to reach out to more people who maybe weren't watching or listening to the game already," she said. The promotion will be ramped up for the Mets-Yankees series this season, as well.

    ON TO THE EDGE: A sports marketing veteran has hung out his shingle as a trainer for companies that want to learn how to handle sponsorships in-house, or at least to oversee the work of sponsorship agencies more effectively.

    Bob Mazzone, who has had senior sales positions with Golf Digest, the Major League Baseball Players Association and the agency ISL, and senior account management positions with Reach Marketing and Colangelo Synergy Marketing, has opened Sponsor's Edge in Darien, Conn. His aim is to help companies avoid what he considers the three most common sponsorship mistakes:

    "The first one is going [into a sponsorship] with a one-year mentality. The second is that sponsorships are much more often sold than they are bought ... more often the sales side is the proactive player, rather than the buyer going out with a clear idea of what their needs are," Mazzone said.

    "The third one is measurement. Anyone in this business will echo that you need criteria for measurement, and you need to work them hard, because at the end of the day somebody on the client side will have to stand up in the room and account for the money spent."

    Mazzone went into business for himself nine months ago and has done consulting for Hormel Foods, the Guild Group agency and others. He is expecting a deal soon to do sponsorship training for the consumer side of a petroleum company. He is the only full-time staffer now.

    CENDANT JOINS CLUB SOCCER: U.S. Club Soccer has signed its first sponsor, Cendant Hotels, and expects to have deals soon for an official automobile sponsor and for an official ball for its National Cup Championships.

    Cendant, which comprises nine chains, including Days Inn, Howard Johnson, Ramada and Travelodge, has made a five-figure annual commitment to USCS and expects six-figure annual revenue from visits from family and friends of USCS players, who represent the elite youth traveling soccer clubs in the country.

    The deal was handled for USCS by Los Angeles-based RMG3, a sports media, marketing and merchandising firm. Jennifer Rottenberg, RMG3's senior vice president of business development, said the agency is talking to nearly 20 other companies for sponsorships in the restaurant, wireless, beverage and insurance categories, among others.

    Three-year-old USCS is made up of several hundred clubs. The National Cup Championships take place in eight regions in June and culminate with the National Championship Final in Los Angeles in August.

    Noah Liberman can be reached at

    Print | Tags: Baseball, ESPN, Golf, Marketing and Sponsorship, MLB, New York Mets, PepsiCo, Soccer
  • ‘Relevant’ footwear retailers turn up the music

    Footwear marketers have been affiliating themselves with musicians for the past year or two; now, some of the nation's biggest retailers are aligning themselves as well.

    Sister sporting-good emporiums Foot Locker and Champs are buying in. Reebok will pass through rights from this summer's Jay Z/50 Cent tour, with the retailer providing in-store videos to support footwear and apparel leveraging the artists' names.

    Meanwhile, Champs is sponsoring both Ozzfest and Lollapalooza and will use hip-hoppers Nelly and Murphy Lee in a forthcoming back-to-school ad.

    So, whatever happened to "Be Like Mike"?

    "It's all about being relevant," said Rubin Hanan, senior vice president of retail brand marketing at Foot Locker Inc., "and music is where these kids live as much as sports."

    SNEAKER WARS, PART I: Nike may have signed LeBron James to a $90 million endorsement deal, but it appears as if the NBA's newest wunderkind will make his debut in a summer league title-sponsored by Reebok. The No. 2 athletic shoe brand has bought title sponsorship to the Pro Summer League for rookies, second-year players and free agents run by the Boston Celtics at UMass Boston in mid-July.

    Teams representing the Cleveland LeBrons (we can safely assume he will be wearing a swoosh and not a vector) along with the host Celtics and NBA finalists San Antonio and New Jersey will compete, along with squads from the New York Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers, Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks, Milwaukee Bucks and Washington Wizards.

    Aside from title sponsorship to the league, which will be televised on NBA TV, Reebok gets rotational and other signs on and around the court. It also receives Celtics sponsorship elements as part of the low- to mid-six-figure buy, including signs on the basketball stanchions and advertising on the FleetCenter JumboTron.

    SNEAKER WARS, PART II: With all the hype

    about Nike signing James and Carmelo Anthony, you haven't heard much about sneaker companies chasing Darko Milicic, a 7-footer whom many are projecting as the second overall pick in the NBA draft, between James and Anthony.

    The reason isn't because Milicic, born in the former Yugoslavia, plays in Europe. It's because the 17-year-old pro signed a six-year contract with And 1 last year.

    "We're hoping he's our Yao Ming — a guy who can really get us traction in the European market," said And 1 marketing director Errin Cecil-Smith.

    Marketing plans for Milicic are incomplete. If Detroit selects Milicic with the second overall pick, he would be on a team with two other And 1 endorsers, Ben Wallace and Chauncey Billups.

    PEPSI/SOCCER: Pepsi is close to signing on as a sponsor of Manchester United's tour of the United States this summer. Pepsi already had a small deal with the tour as a result of its overall Man U sponsorship. This deal adds rights for Gatorade and Sierra Mist to leverage the July-August U.S. tour.

    Marketing plans for the brands' leveraging of the tour are still being developed. The "Champions Tour" sponsorship packages have been on the market for $300,000 to $500,000 and include field boards and ads on Fox Sports Net, Fox SportsWorld and Fox En Español. 

    CLOSE SHAVE: Gillette, an MLB corporate sponsor for the past 64 years, will leverage its ties to the national pastime with a late-summer promotion.

    The "Get Closest to the Game" promo centers on an instant-win contest across millions of Mach3 Turbo razors. Top prize is an "all-access" trip for four to this year's World Series. Gillette supports with five-second tags on TV ads and an Aug. 10 freestanding insert drop.

    COMINGS & GOINGS: Dan Derian to MLB as the organization's first research director, with a charter to compile and sift through data on MLB TV viewership, along with overall fan demographic information. He was with McCann-Erickson, which, perhaps not coincidentally, has MLB as a client. ... Tom Jackovic to USA Track & Field as director of development. He was regional director of development for Washington University in St. Louis.

    Terry Lefton can be reached at

    Print | Tags: And 1, Atlanta Hawks, Baseball, Basketball, Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Foot Locker, Fox, Gillette, Manchester United, Marketing and Sponsorship, Milwaukee Bucks, MLB, NBA, Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks, PepsiCo, Philadelphia 76ers, Reebok, Soccer, Washington Wizards
  • Sponsors keep eye on Sosa

    Some of the companies Sammy Sosa endorses say they'll wait to see the consequences of the discovery last Tuesday that he was using a corked bat in a game against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

    Will broken bat saw off Sosa’s sponsor appeal?
    "We'll see how the situation plays out," said Dave DeCecco, Pepsi spokesman. The "situation" is Major League Baseball's investigation into the bat that shattered in Sosa's hands and others taken from his locker for inspection by the league. DeCecco would not discuss current Sosa ad campaigns.

    Sosa has a deal with Easton Sports to promote its bats, shoes, gloves and wristbands, but Easton's response was surprising: a claim its endorser was not using the company's bat, but a competitor's.

    "The bat confiscated in last [Tuesday's] game was not manufactured by Easton Sports," the company said in a statement the following day. "Sammy Sosa will customarily use different brands of bats during the season.

    "Easton bats may have been gathered from Sosa's locker following the game. However, the company does not have any information on the status or process for reviewing those bats. Easton Sports has never manufactured an illegal wood bat, corked or otherwise."

    The statement concluded, "We look forward to continuing our relationship with Sosa as Major League Baseball resolves this issue."

    Sosa signed a $500,000-a-year "head-to-toe" endorsement deal with Easton in March and renewed his Pepsi deal the same month. Terms of the Pepsi deal were not disclosed.

    MasterCard is another Sosa endorsee, but its vice president for global sponsorship, Bob Cramer, did not return a call asking for comment.

    Sosa's agent, Adam Katz, said he thought any effects of the controversy would be temporary.

    "Is there a taint? Yes," he told ESPN. "Will he recover from it? I believe yes."

    Print | Tags: Baseball, Chicago Cubs, Easton, ESPN, Marketing and Sponsorship, PepsiCo
  • Sponsorship Briefs

    Kodak exec named Coke CMO

    Daniel Palumbo was named chief marketing officer at the Coca-Cola Co., where he will be responsible for overseeing Coke's marketing and brand building. He will report to Steven Heyer, the president and chief operating officer. Palumbo comes from the Eastman Kodak Co., where he was most recently senior vice president and president of the consumer imaging division. Before joining Eastman Kodak, Palumbo held senior marketing positions for Procter & Gamble.

    Cruise line stays aboard event

    Royal Caribbean cruise line signed a one-year renewal to return as sponsor of the Champions Tour event in Key Biscayne, Fla. That's the 15th year in a row, marking the second-longest sponsorship on the tour.

    Coyotes comfy with new deal

    The Phoenix Coyotes and Ashley Furniture Homestores signed a three-year agreement making the company the official home furniture partner of the Coyotes, the club announced. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. As part of the agreement, fans will have the opportunity to win "the best seats in the house" — in reference to the "Ashley Furniture Living Room" to be set up in the Coyotes' new arena in Glendale, set to open in December.

    Print | Tags: Golf, Hockey, Marketing and Sponsorship, Arizona Coyotes
  • USOC targets 20 jobs as first step to shrink budget by $10M

    Staff reduction and other cost-cutting measures forecast two months ago by the U.S. Olympic Committee's new operations boss are scheduled to be in place by the end of June, the first steps toward his goal of trimming $10 million from the USOC budget by late 2004.

    Jim Scherr, senior managing director for sports performance, said the USOC this month is eliminating about 20 jobs carrying the titles of manager or above, a move that will shrink the USOC's payroll to fewer than 500 people. The Colorado Springs, Colo., headquarters once had as many as 566 paid staffers, but that number gradually has decreased through attrition to about 520.

    Scherr did not specify jobs that are being cut. He said the USOC would rely on outsourcing for professional services in place of selected staff positions.

    "Across the board, we'll cut roughly $10 million over the next two years from the approved [$491 million] budget," Scherr said. "We'll do it through reduction in head count numbers, reduction in merit increases, reduction in salary increases. And we'll also look at ways to recover some revenue [not in the original budget]."

    Scherr said the USOC is moving back to event-driven fund-raising and away from a narrow focus on soliciting so-called major gifts from high-net-worth donors. As an example, Scherr cited a planned series of three golf events, "Drive of Champions," in which Olympians will tee it up with corporate executives and other guests. One, co-hosted with the national federation USA Basketball, is scheduled in November in Pinehurst, N.C.

    The projected profit — as much as $250,000 — is "significant, but so are the relationships you build," Scherr said. "It is a key contact point [to cultivate donors]."

    Despite pending staff cuts, an Olympic industry source said the USOC remains on the verge of hiring regional fund-raising directors eliminated when Norman Blake became USOC chief executive in 2000.

      MONEY TRAILS: A few short months ago, the CEO of global Olympic sponsor John Hancock Financial Services, David D'Alessandro, raised questions about escalating USOC administrative costs (such as former CEO Lloyd Ward's six-figure air travel bills) and what he called "financial improprieties." His comments sparked congressional hearings and calls for sweeping reform, which remain under discussion.

    D'Alessandro said a comprehensive USOC audit was the answer and suggested John Hancock would help pay for it.

    What a difference three months makes. The audit has yet to begin. USOC Chief Financial Officer Early Reese wrote D'Alessandro in mid-May inquiring about next steps in the process. So far, D'Alessandro's office has not replied.

    Meanwhile, the USOC's scheduled audit by contracted accounting firm KPMG began recently, even as D'Alessandro himself is under the microscope. He faces a shareholder lawsuit that challenges his $21.7 million compensation package in 2002, a year in which the company's earnings fell 15 percent.

    The audit by KPMG, said Scherr, "may answer some of [D'Alessandro's] major questions [about USOC operations]."

    As for the audit offer, D'Alessandro spokeswoman Becky Collet said: "We are working with [the USOC] to move forward, but I can't comment on the process. I don't think anything has changed."

      HIGH ON SPEEDO: USA Swimming is in sponsorship renewal talks with competition swimwear maker Speedo, a federation partner for 24 years, according to USA Swimming chief marketer Rod Davis. While it is no secret in the elite swimming world that Nike is a growing presence in the sport, Davis said Speedo has first right of refusal as the federation's sponsor and is exercising that right.

    United Airlines, struggling to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, has been redesignated by USA Swimming from sponsor status to "supplier" status under a new agreement. United recently terminated sponsorships of several other Olympic sports.

    Steve Woodward can be reached at

    Print | Tags: John Hancock, KPMG, Marketing and Sponsorship, Olympics, USOC
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