SBJ/20080714/Marketing/Sponsorship

Pepsi looks to Romo to generate return for new Kickoff drink

Pepsi and ad agency BBDO, New York, were at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., last week, shooting an ad that’s somewhat of an encore to last year’s Pepsi Max spot featuring Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.

Last year’s ad was for Pepsi Max. This time, it’s for a limited-availability, “in-and-out” beverage launching in late summer to leverage Pepsi’s pricey NFL sponsorship.

Pepsi Kickoff, a version of Pepsi with a “kick of lemon” — some are calling it the return of Pepsi Twist — will launch just before the NFL season, in full-calorie and diet versions. Other than a nice way to capture the effervescence of a new NFL season, Pepsi gets an unpaid mention each time the words “NFL Kickoff” are mentioned. We’re inclined to believe there will be more than a few utterances over the next two months. The same creative will also carry the message of the “double stuff” promo Pepsi is using to juice the launch of Kickoff, offering twice the usual amount of points in the Pepsi Stuff frequency/loyalty program.

To that end, Romo is shown at twice his usual size in the ad. A less-sizable Philadelphia Eagles safety Brian Dawkins is shown attempting to tackle Romo before he can score.

Brian Dawkins will have a tougher
time trying to bring down Tony
Romo in a new commercial.

Last season, the New York Giants sacked Romo in the Pepsi Max ad and went on to a surprise Super Bowl win. Will this ad have the same effect on the Eagles, without an NFL championship since 1960? That’d be a twist.

R.J. Gonser of CAA Sports represents Romo for marketing deals. Genesco Sports Enterprises is Pepsi’s longtime sports marketing agency.

STILL FOAMING: Coors and Miller are united against their common foe, Anheuser-Busch, which is fending off a $46 billion takeover bid from Belgium’s InBev. The only thing certain about what the U.S. beer industry will look like in six months to a year is that U.S. market dynamics will be vastly different.

Given that beer is sports’ lifeblood, there is more than a little anxiety among the properties used to counting on brewers’ large checks. Some industry insiders think an InBev acquisition would signal marketing budget cuts across the board, including sports marketing. However, the party line from those holding the purse strings at A-B is that sports-marketing spending from the King of Beers won’t be reduced — at least as long as the company is under current ownership.

Anheuser-Busch sponsors about 90 pro teams, along with league deals with MLB, the NBA and the NHL, and Super Bowl exclusivity.

Dave Peacock, Anheuser-Busch vice president of marketing, said a recent market segmentation study validated principles that the company’s marketers had been operating with for years.

“For Bud Light and some of our other core bands, sports are still the best way to reach consumers and connect with them with something they are passionate about,” he said.

With new levels of competition expected from the combined MillerCoors, it is hard to see how A-B could cut sports.

Peacock said the brewer’s NFL media budget won’t be reduced and is more likely to increase. “We’ve established a prime position we are not going to give up any time soon,” he said.

As for the overall beer market? “Whatever happens, beer companies are going to have to appeal to males 21 to 30 years old,” he said. “The best way to do that, still, is tying in with sports sponsorships, whether that is with traditional sports or some things like Ultimate Fight we have invested in.”

LICENSED CLEAN UP: One reason we enjoy the licensing industry is that it is pure marketing. Add a desirable logo to an otherwise drab gray T-shirt, and suddenly it’s worth $30.

JerseyNaps will have All-Star Game
fans wiping their faces in style.

Another reason is that whenever we think every product that can carry a licensed sports logo already has one, a new one appears. Such is the case with JerseyNaps, which are printed paper napkins folded to resemble the jerseys of your favorite team. Among the product benefits claimed by the two-ply napkins is the ability to stand on their own and accept autographs, which gets a little messy on a standard napkin.

Manufactured in Wisconsin and marketed by ThemeNaps, Atlanta, the napkins recently got a license from MLB that’s resulted in more than 100,000 All-Star Game napkins being used at various events at the MLB All-Star Game this week in New York City. MLB JerseyNaps will be available at retail later this year in versions for the New York Yankees and Mets, Boston, Cleveland, Oakland, the Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers.

College licenses have seen JerseyNaps with Texas, Georgia and other big schools’ logos at retail since last fall, along with Kentucky Derby napkins. They are priced at about $3 for a package of eight. NHL and MLS deals are close, and the company is also angling for an NFL license, which would allow it to get a piece of the lucrative Super Bowl party market, said CMO Will Katz.

Weil & AssociatesSponsorship Universe, San Antonio, is assisting with marketing and license procurement.

COMINGS & GOINGS: John Stamatis from senior manager to director of sports marketing at Pepsi N.A. Stamatis has been with Pepsi for seven years. … Fast food marketing veteran Kim Hennig has left her three-year post as director of brand management at Subway. She’s seeking a full-time marketing gig in sports. … Todd Sermersheim joins WWE as director of sponsorship development after about seven months at SME Branding. He’s also worked for the NLL and Reebok.

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

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