SBJ/January 31 - February 6, 2005/SBJ In Depth

Alternative-sports sponsor SoBe ready for some football

SoBe Beverage will sponsor the Hall of Fame Players Association’s largest event to date at the Super Bowl, representing a departure for the soft drink brand that has always marketed through youth sports.

The association is a marketing group comprising Pro Football Hall of Fame members and raises money for various charities and former players who are on hard times. It is not affiliated with the NFL or the Hall of Fame itself.

Its inaugural Legends of the Gridiron Reception will take place Friday at the San Jose Country Club in Jacksonville, and will be attended by more than 30 hall of famers, including Roger Staubach, Bob Griese, Lynn Swann, Anthony Muñoz and Barry Sanders. ESPN’s Chris Berman will be the emcee.

Event spokesman Nick Buoniconti would not say what SoBe paid for its sponsorship or what the group hopes to raise through the event, but he said its goal is to raise at least $500,000 per year in the next few years with various events.

SoBe is well known in action sports circles, where it has sponsored the U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships since 2000 and supports its own Team Lizard group of action athletes. Its Adrenaline Rush brand is an active sponsor in the music category as well.

So why the foray into traditional sports and an older demographic like the hall association?

“Everyone needs energy these days, and these Hall of Fame athletes define energy on the field,” said brand spokeswoman Kristine Hinck. “SoBe’s bottlers are certainly supportive of football, and this is a unique opportunity to bring added value to our bottling community while reaching out to an influential group of legendary athletes.”

The deal was done in cooperation with a Jacksonville bottling group via Pepsi-Cola North America. SoBe gets mentions during the event, product placement during the banquet and a presence on the event tickets. About 250 people will be attending, a sellout, according to Tracy Mitrevski, president of YPC International, the strategic consulting and event-marketing firm that helped the association develop and market the event. The association’s marketing representative is PPI Marketing, which was founded by Staubach.

The event will feature a question-and-answer session with players moderated by Berman, a raffle of signed memorabilia and door prizes. Among the companies with representatives planning to attend are General Mills, Sony and business technology company Convergys.

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