SBJ/November 27 - December 3, 2006/This Weeks News

New Balance in the running at Winter X

ESPN’s Winter X Games will roll out a new sponsor roster this week headlined by three new partners — New Balance, State Farm and General Mills’ Totino’s.

New Balance will fill the footwear category and become the only new gold-level sponsor at the winter event, while State Farm and Totino’s will take associate-level roles in the insurance and frozen food categories, respectively.

New Balance will join returning gold-level
sponsors at the Winter X Games.

Gold-level partnerships are valued at $2 million per X Games, while associate-level deals fall in the $1 million range, according to industry sources. Both sponsor packages include on-site signage, activation space in the X Games village, rights to marks and significant media across all ESPN platforms from TV to print to online.

New Balance, which sponsored its first X Games event last summer, is working to finalize a deal that will cover both winter and summer X Games in 2007. As it did last summer, the footwear company will use the events to highlight its new NB ZIP line of shoes by featuring its new colors of the 8505 and 8515 training shoes on all ESPN platforms.

“This was a great way to reach the male and female teenagers we were targeting,” said Kevin Milhomme, a New Balance senior integrated marketing associate.

Though New Balance has a new licensee producing New Balance Performance Outerwear designed for snowboarders, there are no plans currently to include that product line in the Winter X campaign. The company also has not made any plans to activate the X Games partnership at retail but is exploring the possibility.

“We’re working to figure out (which retailer) it will be,” Milhomme said, “and what we’ll do right now.”

Totino’s activation efforts around Winter X will include a Web site component, as well as an on-package promotion. The company also plans to endorse several athletes who will participate in the event.

State Farm is the first insurance sponsor at Winter X. Plans of how it will activate were not available at press time.

Winter X will take place in Aspen, Colo., Jan. 25-28. All of the gold-level sponsors from 2006 will return for this year’s Winter X, including Edge, Jeep, Schick, Taco Bell, Mountain Dew and the U.S. Navy.

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