SBJ/January 9 - 15, 2006/Marketingsponsorship

NFL mixes monster brands in Stones/Super Bowl merchandise

Two of the most valuable marks in licensing, the Rolling Stones’ classic “tongue” logo and the NFL’s Super Bowl mark, will be the centerpiece of a joint licensing program surrounding Super Bowl XL. The combined marks of “the World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band” and America’s top sporting event will be on apparel sold throughout the Motor City and on TV. The Stones will perform at halftime at Ford Field in Detroit.

Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones will play
during halftime at the Super Bowl in Detroit.
“It’s a bigger and bigger way of saying ‘I was there,’” said Don Brown, senior brand manager in the NFL’s Consumer Products Group, “and we’re offering something from the most iconic rock band and the biggest event of the year that says that.”

Reebok, VF and G-III will produce a variety of men’s and women’s T-shirts, fleece, sweats, polo shirts and outerwear with the combined marks. Given the winter climate in the host city, the outerwear selection has been expanded to include more than 10 different SKUs on denim, leather and quilted ranging up to $160. A special television segment on Home Shopping Network supporting the merchandise also is in the works.

Since outerwear is one of the few licensed apparel categories that never bounced back from the late 1990s collapse, the Detroit market will be an interesting test of whether it can once again be a viable product.

“Getting outerwear back and responding is one of the things that’s front and center on my desk,” said Susan Rothman, NFL vice president of consumer products. “Relative to Detroit, there should be a demand, but so much of the [wholesale] demand is last minute and so much of the retail space is in hotels and at the stadium, so the question is how much display space you’ll have.”

In addition to outerwear, look for licensed cold-weather accessory sets, such as hats and scarves. Distribution is through Detroit retailers such as Meijer and Dunham’s Sports and Super Bowl hotel concessionaires, as well as at Ford Field. Apparel also will be sold at some of the Stones’ concerts before the Feb. 5 Super Bowl.

In a mature retail environment, expectations are high regardless of the game matchup. “We had some of the biggest retailers, like Meijer and Dunham’s Sports in here a year ago talking about how to maximize this,” said Leo Kane, NFL senior director of licensing and consumer products. “We’ve also got a better, earlier and more consistent logo and style than ever, so the guy buying a [souvenir] football will be looking at the same banner he’s been seeing in his hotel room for a few days.”

PAYING A VISIT: A neat bit of strategic targeting has Marquis Jet using visiting pro sports locker rooms — a traditionally ignored parcel of pro sports real estate — as a marketing platform. Looking to grab high net-worth individuals who can afford Marquis’ hourly private jet service, purchased via cards offering a minimum of 25 hours of air service starting at $115,900, Marquis has been cutting team sponsorship deals that get it signage inside visiting locker rooms. The newest deal, a two-year agreement with the Boston Red Sox, is helping to spur renovation of the antiquated visitors clubhouse at the 93-year-old Fenway Park. Marquis will receive signs, branded towels and more, as well as a presence within Fenway’s premium EMC Club, along with public address ads and spots on the Diamond Vision. In return, the Red Sox commit to use an agreed-upon number of hours on Marquis Jets.

A recent three-year deal with the New Jersey Nets (which didn’t win friends with Continental Airlines, which pays for naming rights at the Nets’ arena and didn’t find out about the deal until late in the game) got Marquis locker-room signs, branded towels and shaving kits, and arena signage, branded front-row seats and access to the Nets’ well-heeled ownership consortium.

As for the results? “We’re not getting any direct
response, but we’re getting to the point where every player that goes into that locker room knows us, and by the end of the year that will be almost every NBA athlete,” said Peter Feigin, a former vice president of marketing for the New York Knicks and currently vice president of corporate development at Marquis Jet. He said more than 35 NBA athletes are currently customers. With an eventual goal of reaching every athlete in the major leagues, Marquis has also signed a similar deal with the New York Mets.

Details of MasterCard’s new Yankees deal
include several signs at Yankee Stadium.
NEW CARDS: A few details are beginning to emerge from MasterCard’s sponsorship with the New York Yankees, which was first reported in this space (see SBJ, Dec. 19-25). The three-year deal that replaces Visa does not include rights to the new Yankee Stadium on the drawing board, so look for Visa and others to get back in the hunt before then. As for the deal that makes MasterCard the “Preferred Card of the Yankees,” it also includes permanent, baseline-level signage, two concourse signs, an inning of rotational signage per game, use of Yankee marks in the local market, an affinity card program, installation of the Pay Pass “swipeless” payment system at the stadium, a one-page ad in the Yankees’ game program and four field-level tickets.

Meanwhile, we’re told the New York Mets have renewed with MasterCard, meaning MasterCard has both of the Big Apple’s MLB teams for the first time.

TOE IN THE WATER: USA Diving has signed a new three-year deal with health-care provider Kaiser Permanente, which is making its initial foray into sports sponsorship. California-based Kaiser hopes the interest in the Beijing 2008 Olympics will help it target a variety of consumers, especially Asians. Kaiser also hopes to integrate its medical expertise within the national governing body. Paragon Marketing, Skokie, Ill., is the health-care provider’s new sports marketing agency and negotiated the deal.

COMINGS & GOINGS: Atlantic 10 sponsorship chief Jeff Long has left the conference to join the Philadelphia Eagles as director of corporate sales. The A10 is close to outsourcing its sponsorship and television rights to CSTV. … Passage Events vice president of business development Larry Weil is leaving to put out his own shingle in San Antonio as Weil & Associates, a sponsorship sales and consulting firm. His first client is AirShip Management, which operates blimps for Fuji Film and Ameriquest. … Paul Bamundo has joined the NBA as a director of marketing partnerships. He was with IMG. … Former NFL corporate sponsorship manager Chris Jogis has joined MasterCard as vice president of U.S. brand development. Jogis also served for six years in Pepsi’s sports marketing department. … Ed Lynch has left Florida-based All Access Sports & Entertainment Marketing to spend more time with his family. The former MLBPA and Sports Illustrated marketer is now seeking a Boston-based position. … Brian Fitzgerald joins the NFL as manager of database marketing. He was with the NHL for the past five years as director of commerce and development in the league’s CyberEnterprises Division. … Longtime Gatorade marketer Andy Horrow relocates to the New York area for a job with the parent company as director of marketing platforms for Pepsi International. He’d been with Gatorade for nine years.

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

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