SBJ/October 3 - 9, 2005/Marketingsponsorship

Samsung fills open category for the NFL

Samsung has signed a two-year deal plus options with the NFL, making it the league’s first consumer electronics corporate sponsor since Thomson’s RCA brand dropped out after the 2002 season.

Industry sources value the deal at well into eight figures per year, which includes media, marketing, promotional and other associated commitments. Seoul, South Korea-based Samsung gets exclusivity within the HDTV category and with some home electronics equipment, including DVD players.

The deal comes as the Korean company looks to build cache in America by renting equity from the country’s top sports property and to drive sales of its high-end HDTVs.

As is the case with most NFL league sponsorship deals, the rights include league intellectual property — the NFL shield, collective use only of team marks and rights to the Super Bowl and Pro Bowl.

Samsung also receives limited pass-through rights for its retailers.

Given the fact that the NFL season is already a month old, Samsung is not expected to leverage its new sponsorship rights until the holiday shopping season, and then heavily during the postseason. January has traditionally been a strong sales month for big-screen TVs, stimulated by the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl.

Samsung is scheduled to shoot a television spot ad later this month in Florida featuring four former NFL quarterbacks: Dan Marino, Troy Aikman, Steve Young and Boomer Esiason. Samsung was already affiliated with Esiason through support of his foundation, which raises money to battle cystic fibrosis.

The NFL deal represents Samsung’s largest sports sponsorship expenditure in the United States. It has been a worldwide Olympic TOP sponsor since 1997, and in the United States it is title sponsor of the LPGA’s World Championship and a co-title sponsor of the Samsung/RadioShack 500 Nextel Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway.

With the highest television ratings of any U.S. sports property, the NFL would seem a natural for any company selling televisions. But the relatively thin margins in consumer electronics has made a deal somewhat elusive for the league. Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning recently signed to endorse Sony’s high-end TVs. Sony holds the most market share in the HDTV market, followed by Samsung and Panasonic.

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