SBJ/September 12 - 18, 2005/Marketingsponsorship

GM buys a season of King

SI.com and General Motors have struck a one-season marketing deal in which GM Certified Used Vehicles will be the exclusive sponsor of all of NFL writer Peter King’s work on the Web site.

The GM Certified Used Vehicles deal covers King’s column and more.

King previously drew exclusive sponsorship deals for his popular “Monday Morning Quarterback” column, a lively and sometimes incendiary mix of football news and notes, travelogues and personal opinions (see story). This new deal, which runs through the 2005 regular season, combines King’s editorial work and video appearances on the site, a Peter King Challenge contest in which fans can test their ability to pick winners of NFL games against King, and a similar prognostication contest open only to GM dealers.

Specific financial details were not disclosed, but sources said the deal reaches the high six figures and makes GM one of si.com’s top 10 corporate sponsors.

“Peter was one of our first writers who really embraced what the Web could do, and now he has the benefit of having forged a truly unique trust with the public,” said si.com President Gordon McLeod. “We see that as a great matchup of talent with an advertiser, and one that cuts across so many levels.”

GM sees the King package as part of an effort to showcase its new advertising creative and tagline, “GM Certified Used Vehicles: No Worries.”

“We were looking for innovative ways to get a different kind of presentation for this new round of creative, and SI came to us with something quite compelling,” said J. Schaffer, national advertising and marketing manager for GM Certified Used Vehicles. “The fourth quarter of the year is a busy time for us, so we’re expecting big returns off of this.”

GM is not officially a presenting sponsor of King. Rather, the company simply bought up all the ad inventory surrounding King on the Web site. It also will have ads for the game-prediction contests in SI’s print title.

King knew little of the GM arrangement until it was complete. McLeod, however, sees the integrated sponsorship package as a bellwether deal that will be replicated for other high-profile Sports Illustrated writers, such as Tom Verducci and Paul Zimmerman.

“There’s no question we see this program as a model for some of our other people,” McLeod said. “We have terrific talent, and getting every single adjacency to a particular writer is something compelling we can offer sponsors.”

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