SBJ/November 17 - 23, 2003/Marketingsponsorship

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.

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