SBJ/November 17 - 23, 2003/Marketingsponsorship

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  • Another candidate for MLB jinx: The curse of the highly promoted

    Next to endlessly promoted Fox prime-time fare such as "The Next Joe Millionaire" and "Skin," one of the most ballyhooed bits of commercialism during Fox's World Series broadcasts was the RadioShack-sponsored contest that promised a series of prizes, including "the Ultimate World Series Pass," a pair of World Series tickets for life.

    MLB distributed millions of holograms bearing possible winning numbers on licensed merchandise and on 12 million postcards distributed at RadioShack stores. A watch-and-win on the broadcasts of World Series Games 1, 2 and 3 offered holders of the matching numbers a regular-season MLB pass for two (approximate retail value $6,056), a $10,000 shopping spree at mlb.com, a $25,000 shopping spree at RadioShack and, finally, the "Ultimate World Series Pass" (approximate retail value $166,500), which was punctuated by a card-flipping stunt at Pro Player Stadium during Game 4.

    In a post-season haunted by jinxes, we're wondering if there's one in play here.

    "Skin" was canceled after just three shows due to disastrous ratings. "Joe Millionaire" has been attracting so few viewers that Fox cut it back to once weekly from its original twice-a-week schedule during the crucial November sweeps period. And weeks after Game 4 (Oct. 22), not one of the prizes has been claimed.

    Legally, MLB must wait a month, after which it will hold a second-chance drawing among the relatively few contestants who entered by mail. We're hoping the bad luck won't affect RadioShack's MLB sponsorship renewal decision.

    As far as we know, nothing untoward has happened to Sprint, the other brand some thought was hyped beyond acceptable limits within Series broadcasts.

    SEEKING ITS OWN LEVEL: Add a few more high-visibility teams to Gatorade's team roster. The Pepsi-owned isotonic is close to completing separate marketing deals with the Denver Nuggets and the University of Michigan.

    Adding the Nuggets to its roster of NBA clubs gives Gatorade 27 of the league's 29 teams. (The Phoenix Suns and Utah Jazz are the only holdouts.)

    Gatorade gets the usual seats, cups, coolers and towels at the Pepsi Center. While a letter of intent has been signed, Gatorade is still trying to figure out how lengthy a deal it wants to sign, possibly as long as Pepsi's title sponsorship deal with the Nuggets' home arena, which expires in 2019.

    Michigan has signed a seven-year deal, also granting Gatorade the standard branding on seats, cups, towels and coolers. The deal gives Gatorade 63 Division I schools, which include Duke, Notre Dame, Kentucky and Ohio State. Neither deal includes media.

    The U.S. Army is near a deal to renew its NASCAR team sponsorship with MB2 Motorsports.

    SALUTING NASCAR: The U.S. Army is close to renewing its sponsorship agreement with NASCAR and the MB2 Motorsports entry driven by the Jerry Nadeau racing team. In its first year as a top-level sponsor, the Army spent more than $16 million.

    During a presentation last week at an Event Marketer magazine conference in New York City, Col. Thomas Nickerson, director of Strategic Outreach of U.S. Army Accessions Command, said the program exceeded goals in its first year by generating 50,000 leads of possible Army enlistees. The number of actual enlistment contracts signed won't be known until January.

    The Army/NASCAR program garnered 79 billion media impressions.

    "That equates to $20 million in advertising we didn't have to spend, so we're pretty happy," said Nickerson. For next year, he's planning a program with more interactive elements that can also be used off track, in urban areas to reach a more diverse audience. Relay Sports and Event marketing is the Army's sports marketing agency.

    LEBRON'S TEAM IS TRULY CONTINENTAL: The Cleveland Cavaliers have inked a two-year, low-six-figure deal with Continental Airlines. The air carrier gets exclusive promotional rights with the Cavs, along with radio and rotational media and unique Cavs items to auction off for frequent-flier miles, including tickets, clinics and the chance to be a ball boy.

    Continental will sponsor an award tied to its "Work Hard, Fly Right" tag line that will be presented at the end of the season to the player voted as the hardest working by fans. Paragon Marketing Group, Skokie, Ill., is Continental's longtime sports marketing agency.

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

    Print | Tags: Baseball, Basketball, Cleveland Cavaliers, Colleges, Continental Airlines, Denver Nuggets, Fox, Marketing and Sponsorship, Motorsports, NASCAR, PepsiCo, Phoenix Suns, Quaker Oats, RadioShack, Sprint Corp., Utah Jazz
  • Whiskey label stirs the pot with NFL’s tailgaters

    When most football fans break out the whiskey at a tailgate party, it is usually either poured into a mixer or sent straight down the gullet in a fiery splash after a frat-like cheer.

    The folks at Jack Daniel Distillery, however, want people to know that their whiskey has another purpose within the tailgating scene: as a cooking ingredient.

    In August, Nashville public relations firm Dye Van Mol & Lawrence launched the Jack Daniel's Great American Tailgate Party and Tailgate Search, a nationwide tour designed to find the best tailgate teams among pro football fans.

    Jack’s back in black at NFL parking lots.

    In 16 NFL markets, a 45-foot-long vehicle, equipped with big-screen TVs, DVD players and Internet access, scours the parking lots and fields, judging participants on food and drink preparation and team spirit. Jack Daniel's ambassadors designate a winner in each market, with the overall top tailgater to be crowned in Houston just before the 2004 Super Bowl.

    The PR campaign is both national and market-to-market in scope. The targeted media are outlets, including TV, print, radio and Internet, that reach the 21-and-older demographic.

    In August, Dye Van Mol launched the campaign via PRNewswire and directly to a select group of feature writers throughout the country. The agency plans for a strong national push at the end of the campaign in January around Super Bowl time, with the winner being announced through a video news release.

    Campaign: Launching the nationwide Jack Daniel’s Great American Tailgate Party and Tailgate Search
    PR team:
    Dye Van Mol & Lawrence:
    Mark Day, group director and senior vice president
    Heather MacDonald, vice president
    Ellen Nelson, vice president
    Amanda Henley, account executive
    Rob Hoskins, account executive
    Andrea Lindsley, account executive
    Charlynn Settlage, account executive
    Jack Daniel Distillery:
    John Hayes, vice president, brand director
    Campbell Brown, brand manager
    Riley Hedrick, national promotions manager
    Campaign time line: Aug. 1, 2003-Jan. 31, 2004

    In each of the 16 markets, which include New York, Tampa Bay, San Diego and Chicago, Dye Van Mol targets all local media, with a print emphasis on lifestyle and food editors. In select markets, the agency targets sports and entertainment writers. For television, the focus is on morning shows.

    Dye Van Mol has incorporated a variety of interesting PR elements to help get the word out about the campaign.

    1. Ambassadors – Dye Van Mol has media-trained a handful of Jack Daniel's ambassadors, who are on site in each market judging the tailgaters as well as meeting with the press. These ambassadors, who include master distiller Jimmy Bedford and Jack Daniel's great-grandniece, Lynne Tolley, serve as the spokespeople for the campaign.

    2. Recipes – In each market, the agency not only announces via a press release the arrival of the tour, it also provides the media with recipes involving Jack Daniel's whiskey.

    3. Tailgating tips – The agency distributes tailgating tips to the media.

    4. Footballs and aprons – For this year's campaign, Dye Van Mol is distributing to the media Jack Daniel's utensils and aprons and custom-designed footballs bearing the Jack Daniel's Tailgate logo.

    For each market, the Jack Daniel's ambassadors along with a staffer from the PR firm arrive on Thursday for a Sunday game. The week leading up to the arrival, Dye Van Mol works on setting up media interviews for the ambassadors, which typically take place on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday before the game.

    The tailgate search begins Sunday and the trophy is awarded just before kickoff. The media that the agency brings on site on Sunday can assist the ambassadors in the judging if they are so inclined.

    After the judging, the PR firm faxes and e-mails the names of the winners to the local markets. Photos of the winners are posted on the Jack Daniel's Web site.

    Dye Van Mol plans to announce the big winner on Jan. 31 via a video news release, a press release placed on PRNewsire and customized press releases to media outlets in the hometowns of both finalists.

    At press time, the tour has reached seven of the 16 planned markets. Coverage thus far includes The Wall Street Journal, Chicago Sun-Times, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Tampa Tribune and St. Louis Post-Dispatch, as well as radio and television network affiliates.

    Wayne Henninger (whenninger@sportsbusinessjournal.com) is a PR professional and writer in Washington, D.C.

    Print | Tags: Football, Marketing and Sponsorship, NFL
  • Bank behind Golf Channel forum

    Royal Bank of Scotland has struck a partnership with The Golf Channel to be presenting sponsor of a prime-time special called "RBS Presents the State of the Game," set to air Dec. 5 on the cable network from 8 to 9:30 p.m. ET.

    The show, to be taped Dec. 4, will feature six to 10 panelists who are influential voices in the game, said David Manougian, The Golf Channel's president.

    The panel is still being formulated, but it's slated to include Jack Nicklaus, who is a spokesman for RBS, LPGA Commissioner Ty Votaw and golf course architect Tom Fazio. Invitations have gone out to some other tour commissioners, a few players and to the top executives at several golf manufacturing companies.

    The idea behind the show — the first of its type for The Golf Channel — is to create a forum to discuss some key issues in the game today.

    "We have had a long association with golf," said Howard Moody, group director of communications at RBS, the world's fifth-largest bank. "We're trying to do things that are different and trying to do things that would add something to the game — more than just simply lending your name to some championship.

    The United States is a key market for RBS, which this year signed Nicklaus, Charles Howell III and Luke Donald as spokesmen.

    As part of the deal, whose financial terms have not been disclosed, RBS secured category exclusivity on the special.

    Print | Tags: Golf, Golf Channel, LPGA, Marketing and Sponsorship
  • NFL flexes database marketing muscle to sell tix, boost viewership

    In early September, the Cincinnati Bengals faced the grim prospect of opening their season with a game against the Denver Broncos well short of a sellout. Aside from the impact on concessions and parking revenue, not having a capacity crowd meant no TV exposure in the Bengals' home market — crucial for a team trying to establish an identity after years of mediocre play.

    Enter database marketing. With the help of a list provided by the league of Bengals fans and displaced Broncos fans living in the Cincinnati area, an e-mail blast pushing tickets was sent, helping the game sell out. Local fans were able to watch the Bengals on television.

    NFL officials said the team credited them with selling 500 to 600 of the tickets necessary to ensure the sellout. The Bengals have enlisted the aid of the NFL in selling tickets several more times since the opening week.

    Helping clubs sell tickets is just one way the NFL is using database marketing, a common marketing tactic in some large consumer categories such as travel, telecommunications and financial services, but still relatively new to the seat-of-your-pants world of sports marketing.

    With an E.piphany database system in-house for around a year now, the league has been able to cull a database of 11.4 million NFL customers from a variety of sources, the biggest being NFL Shop, nfl.com and NFL Sunday Ticket.

    Through database management, the league can then find customers with multiple NFL commercial relationships and create new marketing initiatives.

    Thus far, the league has employed those lists to increase its NFL Shop circulation from 9 million to 11 million. The NFL hopes to grow that to around 18 million licensed merchandise catalogs within five years.

    "This is the engine that's allowing us to build that," said Bob O'Keefe, the NFL's senior director of publishing and direct marketing. "It's not about more; it's about more effective."

    Another recent database application was helping the NFL Network launch with an e-mail blast to around 1.2 million fans. Some were just promoted to watch, while others, in geographically strategic locales such as Houston, Green Bay and New York, were asked to call their local cable operator and request NFL Network.

    Plans are in place to expand the league's growing database marketing capabilities to other areas. At a time when the NFL is looking to create new sponsor assets, it wants to offer its corporate patrons a way to reach its most commercially active fans.

    Under way are database-driven plans to give sponsors pages within NFL catalogs or offering a sampling capability inside the million or so packages that NFL Shop ships annually, along with an NFL-branded direct-mail program.

    Still in their nascency are plans to boost TV viewership with marketing programs like a watch-and-win contest. When the new MBNA/NFL credit card launches next year, there will be even more data available.

    "We'd like to get to a place where we could have a rate card with different prices for segmenting against different fans," said Perry Cooper, director of database marketing.

    Print | Tags: Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos, Football, Marketing and Sponsorship, MBNA America Bank, NFL
  • Royal Caribbean, LanChile Airlines sign with Nasdaq-100 tennis

    Royal Caribbean International and LanChile Airlines have signed on to become official sponsors of the Nasdaq-100 Open men's and women's pro tennis tournament.

    Also, Microsoft is close to a new sponsorship deal that would make it the official technology partner of the tournament, which is part of the Tennis Masters Series on the men's circuit and a tier-one event on the WTA Tour.

    The 2004 edition of the Nasdaq-100 Open is set for March 24-April 4 in Miami.

    Miami-based Royal Caribbean has struck a one-year deal, becoming the tournament's official cruise line. The agreement marks its first association with the event since 2001.

    LanChile, whose cargo business has its headquarters in Miami, also cut a one-year agreement, becoming the tournament's official international airline. The sponsorship represents the company's first significant tie-in to a major U.S.-based sporting event, said Pablo Montesinos, LanChile Airlines' vice president for North America, Latin America and Asia.

    Royal Caribbean’s deal includes on-site marketing.

    Financial terms of the two deals were not disclosed.

    The Nasdaq-100 Open is "a very big event in South Florida, which is a huge market for us," said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, associate vice president of strategic alliances and partnerships for Royal Caribbean International.

    As part of its agreement, Royal Caribbean secures a stadium suite, ads in the daily tournament programs and the right to do on-site marketing and promotion throughout the event. "We'll be on-site with our mobile marketing campaign, an interactive brand experience called the Ultimate Adventure Tour," said Dominique Bonavita, the company's manager of strategic alliances and partnerships.

    Under terms of its deal, LanChile gets courtside corporate signs in the stadium, as well as commercial time on the ESPN, ESPN2 and CBS telecasts of the tournament, Montesinos said. (CBS is to provide live coverage of both the men's and women's finals.) International TV coverage will include Latin America, a key market for LanChile.

    "It's also important to promote ourselves in Miami," Montesinos said, adding that almost 20 percent of the airline's revenue comes from the United States. LanChile will use the tournament to entertain key clients and to showcase its brand on-site.

    Rich Freeman, a lead marketing manager for Microsoft's U.S. marketing arm, said the company continues to have sponsorship discussions with the tournament.

    "It's our intention and their intention to formalize a deal soon," Freeman said.

    Aerial view of Ultimate Adventure Tour

    Microsoft was a sponsor of this year's edition of the tournament, marking the company's first tie-in with the event.

    "We think the tournament is a terrific opportunity to expose our brand to core segments of our customer base," Freeman said. "We've really made an effort to attach our brand to some of the same sports that our customers — particularly the business executive demographic — are passionate about and have a relationship with. Tennis certainly fits that profile."

    Microsoft's sponsorship package would include corporate signs on the walls behind the baselines on the stadium court; ad time on the national TV broadcasts; a corporate-branded tent on-site to showcase the company's technology; and a stadium suite.

    Print | Tags: CBS Broadcasting Inc., ESPN, Marketing and Sponsorship, Microsoft Corp., Tennis
  • Super-tight Olympics security is forcing decisions: Go or stay home?

    The 2004 Athens Games will be only days old nine months from now. As the countdown intensifies, corporate sponsors and their guests are fast approaching decision time. The choice: attend the most security-laden Games in history or stay away.

    "Security issues are obviously big for all of the sponsors; it goes without saying," said Rana Kardestuncer, director of event and sponsorship marketing at Carlson Marketing Group.

    Carlson recently added Royal Dutch/Shell Group as a client. The agency will handle on-the-ground logistics and hospitality for the company's Greek unit, Shell Hellas, a domestic sponsor of the Athens 2004 organizing committee. Carlson's other clients are global Olympic sponsors Eastman Kodak and Xerox.

    Whether Greece and supporting governments will be able to secure the geographically vulnerable Games — even with budget estimates approaching $1 billion to establish technological and human shields against various threats — was called into question yet again amid a recent visit to Athens by FBI Director Robert Mueller. During his stay, three banks in central Athens were struck by orchestrated bombings that were mostly symbolic and produced no reported injuries.

    Mueller's meetings and activities during a one-day visit were veiled in secrecy. Secrecy is the lifeblood of security, but it also fuels uncertainty.

    "That is part of the problem," Kardestuncer said. "People are concerned. It is one of those be-prepared-for-what-you-can't-be-prepared-for type of things. Everyone recognizes there are always going to be ways to disrupt the Games. But I think most [sponsors] are feeling fairly comfortable. We know that executives say they are coming. You can't let that kind of fear [of terrorism] paralyze you."

    A U.S. Olympic Committee delegation of more than 150 recently returned from a week of inspections in Athens.

    "We are confident that ATHOC, working in close coordination with the appropriate law enforcement agencies in Greece, will implement an aggressive security plan," said USOC spokesman Darryl Seibel. "In addition, the United States and six other countries are working to support the efforts of ATHOC and the local authorities."

    THREE STRIKES: The improbable and unprecedented elimination of a U.S. team

    Mexico’s Heber Gomez (left) makes the play on USA’s Justine Leone in an Olympics qualifying game Nov. 7.
    in Olympic baseball's qualifying tournament means no tie-ins to the Athens Games for sponsors of USA Baseball. But the federation's director of marketing, David Perkins, said sponsor contracts were not contingent on Team USA qualifying for the Games.

    "We've always tried to have the Olympic year falling in the middle of a sponsorship cycle," said Perkins, indicating most current deals are through 2005 or '06. He said no sponsor had made Athens ticketing or hospitality commitments ahead of the recent regional Olympic qualifier in which Mexico upset Team USA, the defending Olympic champion, in Panama City.

    Equipment and apparel sponsors All-Star, New Era, Rawlings and Under Armour renewed their deals earlier this year, Perkins said.

    Ironically, one of the federation's sponsors is the Major League Baseball Players Association, which funds youth baseball programs. Team USA did not need funding in Panama City. It needed the MLBPA's members. But international eligibility rules allow only those professional players not on MLB rosters as of Aug. 31 to suit up for the Olympic qualifiers or the Games.

    COMPUTATIONS: A domestic sponsorship the U.S. Olympic Committee most likely will not be able to renew or sell after 2004 is in the personal computers category. If, as expected, China's top PC maker, Legend Group, signs on as a global Olympic sponsor starting in 2005 — which automatically gives it U.S. rights — existing USOC sponsor Gateway would be out.

    Meanwhile, some observers assume General Motors grabs the coveted automotive category available in China from 2005-2008 through organizers of the Beijing Games. But GM's operations in China are largely joint ventures with government entities, which make sponsorship programs specific to the Games complex to negotiate and operate.

    ON THE MARK: Marketers lusting over a potential pairing of 1972 Olympic swimming legend Mark Spitz and 2004 Olympic hopeful and Spitz heir-apparent Michael Phelps in pre-Athens advertising might be a bit ahead of themselves. Eighteen-year-old Phelps, thought capable of matching or surpassing Spitz's seven-gold-medal performance in Munich three decades ago, told media in a recent conference call that he is still waiting for an introduction.

    "I have not spoken with [Spitz] at all," said Phelps, who recently agreed to a multimillion-dollar, six-year deal with apparel and equipment maker Speedo that includes a $1 million bonus if he collects seven gold medals next summer in Athens or in Beijing in 2008. "I've never actually really seen him, either."

    Octagon's Peter Carlisle, Phelps' agent, said in a recent interview that "a core group of corporate partners" is expected to be on board with his client by year's end.

    RING TOSSES: Even a revenue powerhouse like the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games apparently can't escape the threat of red ink as part of its legacy. With projected operational costs over the next decade exceeding revenue forecasts for the Utah Athletic Foundation's speed skating oval, ski jumps and bobsled/luge run — facilities built for the Games — UAF officials have launched a private donor campaign. Despite sitting on a $75 million endowment passed along by Games organizers last year, the foundation is soliciting as little as $25 and as much as $5,000-plus from potential donors. ... Look for the USOC's overhauled branding campaign to roll out by year's end. The USOC's new agency partner, Austin, Texas-based GSD&M, will deliver it. ... The weekly newsletter Around The Rings reports that Olympic sponsor Visa will operate its 2004 Olympians Reunion Center, a private hospitality program, out of the Athens Tennis Club in central Athens.

    Steve Woodward can be reached at swoodward@sportsbusinessjournal.com.

    Print | Tags: Baseball, Marketing and Sponsorship, MLB, New Era, Olympics, Rawlings Sporting Goods Co., Under Armour, USOC, Visa
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