SBJ/February 27 - March 5, 2006/This Weeks News

NBA, sponsors seeing green in St. Pat’s promotion

The NBA is using a limited media buy in three targeted publications for its first St. Patrick’s Day merchandising effort.

The league will advertise in Slam, School Sports and Dime magazines to push merchandise for the three-team, green-jersey sales effort featuring the New York Knicks, Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls. The advertising highlights the merchandise but does not tout any specific means, such as nbastore.com, for making purchases.

League officials did not disclose how much they are spending on the buy, which was scheduled to begin in early March.

The Celtics will wear their themed jerseys on March 12 for a home game against Denver, with the Knicks to follow on St. Patrick’s Day night against Detroit at Madison Square Garden. The Bulls are expected to wear their green jerseys on March 18 at the United Center against Miami.

Locally, the Knicks and Bulls have sold presenting sponsorships for St. Patrick’s Day jersey night promotions. Tourism Ireland signed with the Knicks, and Miller Brewing Co. expanded its existing sponsorship with the Bulls to include the jersey night. At press time, the Celtics were working on promotional details.

Tourism Ireland plans to use the New York jersey night to promote Ireland’s hosting of the Ryder Cup Sept. 22-24, using giveaways and contests at the arena that night. In Chicago, the joint Miller-Bulls effort calls for the first 10,000 fans in attendance to receive T-shirts modeled after the green jerseys, along with having the local Trinity Irish Dancers perform and other Irish-themed entertainment.

Financial details of the deals were not available.

“It gives teams opportunities to stay vibrant and relevant in their markets,” said Sal LaRocca, senior vice president of global merchandising for the NBA, adding that the same three teams will be part of a similar promotional effort in 2007.

For the Knicks, the deal with Tourism Ireland is part of a larger ethnic marketing strategy. The team previously partnered this season with Allianz Life Insurance Co. of New York for a Latino night and an Asian night, and Coca-Cola is sponsoring an upcoming Latino night promotion.

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