SBJ/June 9 - 15, 2003/Marketingsponsorship

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 nliberman@sportsbusinessjournal.com.

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