SBJ/20081208/This Week's News

Sony’s suite is latest innovation in bowl gifts

Players visiting Miami to compete in the FedEx Orange Bowl or the BCS national championship game will be given the chance to do some after-Christmas shopping courtesy of the committee that runs both of those games.

FedEx Orange Bowl officials have reserved a suite at each of the team hotels, the Westin Diplomat and Fontainebleau, and plan to stock them exclusively with Sony Electronics products. On the night that each of the teams arrives in town, the players will be invited to the suite, handed a folio that not coincidentally features their school colors and is emblazoned with the bowl logo, and given what is basically a $300 credit line. Players can check off from a list in the folio the items that they want (up to $300 in total value), and the gifts will be delivered to the addresses of their choice.

It’s all part of the continuing efforts by tech and electronics corporations to stay relevant in the eyes of the coveted, college-age demographic, said Jon Cooperstein of Davene Inc., a Memphis-based promotions company that brokered gift deals for 14 of this year’s 34 bowl games.

In addition to the novelty of letting the players choose their own gifts, the gift-suite option cuts back on ordering snafus and tight deadlines that often require manufacturers to customize bowl-specific products in a matter of days.

“I don’t even need to know how many people will be coming through the doors,” Cooperstein said. “The NCAA allows each bowl to award up to $500 worth of gifts to 125 participants per school. Schools always bring more than that and pay for it on their dime. We’ll make up 500 folios and order forms for each school.”

Sony’s plan is similar to a program launched last winter, and continued this year, by Florida Citrus Sports, organizer of the Orlando-based Champs Sports Bowl and Capital One Bowl. Players in those games will be invited to a local Best Buy store and given a shopping spree during which they can spend up to $400. The Texas Bowl, meanwhile, is giving its players an actual Best Buy gift card that does not have to be redeemed entirely during their visit to Houston.

Oakley has diversified its bowl gift offerings during its 18 years as a provider. This year, the company’s products will be part of gift packages at five games and will include sunglasses, watches and backpacks.

Sony leads all providers, with the company’s products going in the gift packages at 11 bowl games this year, including all the BCS games except the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. Sony products were given away at eight games last year.

But not every gift requires a plug-in.

Ogio, a high-end backpack manufacturer, is part of the gift packages at six bowl games, including the Rose Bowl presented by Citi, up from only one game last winter. The Bluffdale, Utah-based company is well-known in the action sports world as both a manufacturer and sponsor and has become one of the top-selling backpack brands in college bookstores. It manufactured 2,000 bags for their various bowl partners, including 550 duffel bags for the FedEx BCS Championship game.

“The college demographic is a lot like the extreme sports demographic in that they seem to appreciate that we’re sort of a neutral brand rather than a giant like Nike or even Under Armour,” said Nick Wright, vice president of Ogio’s global promotional products division. “We’re not big enough to get a [Peyton or Eli] Manning or a Michael Phelps, and the bowls are a natural fit.”

Bowl Electronics Watch/Ring Apparel/
Luggage Other
Dec. 20, 11 a.m., Washington, D.C., ESPN
Sony 8-inch portable DVD player   Wool hat   50-by-60-inch custom-woven EagleBank Bowl afghan
New Mexico
Dec. 20, 2:30 p.m., Albuquerque, ESPN
RCA video camcorder Oakley Holeshot Three-Hand watch Oakley beanie; New Era cap Ogio travel bag, Oakley backpack One-year ESPN The Magazine subscription
St. Petersburg
Dec. 20, 4:30 p.m., St. Petersburg, Fla., ESPN2
Pure Digital Flip mini-camcorder; Sony noise-canceling headphones   Floppy hat and Ogio bag  
Pioneer Las Vegas
Dec. 20, 8 p.m., Las Vegas, ESPN
Wii System bundle package Oakley Holeshot Three-Hand watch Oakley Hijinx sunglasses; hat    
R+L Carriers New Orleans
Dec. 21, 8:15 p.m., New Orleans, ESPN
  Balfour watch, Balfour ring Nike apparel    
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia
Dec. 23, 8 p.m., San Diego, ESPN
Apple 8-gigabyte iPod Touch Tommy Hilfiger watch Sport-Tek hooded sweatshirt   Best Buy $50 gift certificate
Sheraton Hawaii
Dec. 24, 8 p.m., Honolulu, ESPN
Kicker iKick500 iPod/iPhone dock   Kahala Aloha shirt, Oakley Hijinx sunglasses Oakley backpack  
Motor City
Dec. 26, 8 p.m., Detroit, ESPN
  Timely Watch Co. watch   Two pieces of Mercury luggage  
Meineke Car Care
Dec. 27, 1 p.m., Charlotte, ESPN
Pure Digital Flip mini-camcorder Fossil watch Fossil sunglasses Armor Gear backpack  
Champs Sports
Dec. 27, 4:30 p.m., Orlando, ESPN
Party at Best Buy Commemorative watch     $400 of spending at Best Buy*
Dec. 27, 8 p.m., San Francisco, ESPN
Sony noise-canceling headphones Fossil watch Cap Armor Gear rolling duffel bag  
Dec. 28, 8:15 p.m., Shreveport, La., ESPN
  Timely Watch Co. watch New Era cap   Trek mountain bike
Dec. 29, 3 p.m., Birmingham, Ala., ESPN
Pure Digital Flip mini-camcorder; Sony noise-canceling headphones   Knit cap Ogio bag  
Valero Alamo
Dec. 29, 8 p.m., San Antonio, ESPN
Sony 80-gigabyte PS3 system with game Fossil watch      
Roady’s Humanitarian
Dec. 30, 4:30 p.m., Boise, Idaho, ESPN
Sony camcorder   Winter jacket, gloves, hoodie sweatshirt, skullcap, baseball cap    
Dec. 30, 8 p.m., Houston, NFL Network
Party at Best Buy Swisstek watch Under Armour HeatGear long-sleeve T-shirt, Twister pants and cap; commemorative belt buckle Toppers backpack $300 Best Buy gift card
Pacific Life Holiday
Dec. 30, 8 p.m., San Diego, ESPN
Insignia LCD 19-inch HDTV/DVD Tourneau watch Sport-Tek hooded sweatshirt   $45 Best Buy gift card
Bell Helicopter Armed Forces
Dec. 31, noon, Fort Worth, Texas, ESPN
Pure Digital Flip mini-camcorder Timely Watch Co. watch   Rolling luggage bag  
Brut Sun
Dec. 31, 2 p.m., El Paso, Texas, CBS
Sony DVD Handycam Timely Watch Co. watch Majestic fleece pullover, VP Sports cap Armor Gear Dolly Llama luggage Brut hair dryer
Gaylord Hotels Music City
Dec. 31, 3:30 p.m., Nashville, ESPN
Sony noise-canceling headphones and MP3 player Fossil watch Adidas fleece jacket; New Era cap Armor Gear backpack  
Dec. 31, 5:30 p.m., Tempe, Ariz., NFL Network
Vizio 26-inch LCD HDTV Bulova watch Hat    
Dec. 31, 7:30 p.m., Atlanta, ESPN
  Fossil watch Two Russell hats Russell travel bag $300 Visa gift card; Chick-fil-A gift card
Jan. 1, 11 a.m., Tampa, ESPN
Pure Digital Flip mini-camcorder Fossil watch; Jostens ring      
Capital One
Jan. 1, 1 p.m., Orlando, ABC
Party at Best Buy Commemorative watch     $400 of spending at Best Buy*
Konica Minolta Gator
Jan. 1, 1 p.m., Jacksonville, CBS
  Bulova watch; Jostens ring Oakley Split Thump MP3 sunglasses; fitted cap Two-piece Mercury Luggage rolling duffel and sling bag  
Rose Bowl presented by Citi
Jan. 1, 4:30 p.m., Pasadena, Calif., ABC
Sony DVD camcorder Fossil watch Oakley sunglasses; New Era 59fifty hat Ogio backpack One-year ESPN The Magazine subscription
FedEx Orange
Jan. 1, 8:30 p.m., Miami, Fox
Gifting suite; $300 in Sony Electronics^ Tourneau watch New Era 59fifty hat; Crocs Ogio backpack  
AT&T Cotton
Jan. 2, 2 p.m., Dallas, Fox
AutoZone Liberty
Jan. 2, 5 p.m., Memphis, ESPN
Pure Digital Flip mini-camcorder Fossil watch Fossil sunglasses Armor Gear backpack  
Allstate Sugar
Jan. 2, 8 p.m., New Orleans, Fox
Sony MP3 Walkman; Sony Blu-Ray player Timely Watch Co. watch New Era cap    
Jan. 3, noon, Toronto, ESPN2
  Timely Watch Co. watch   Two-piece Armor Gear rolling travel duffel bag and computer backpack  
Tostitos Fiesta
Jan. 5, 8 p.m., Glendale, Ariz., Fox
Myvu personal media viewer; Apple iPod Nano Kenneth Cole watch Hat    
• Jan. 6, 8 p.m., Mobile, Ala., ESPN
  Timely Watch Co. watch; Jostens ring Hat    
FedEx BCS National Championship Game
Jan. 8, 8 p.m., Miami, Fox
Gifting suite; $300 in Sony Electronics^ Tourneau watch New Era 59fifty Hat; Crocs Ogio duffel bag  
* Players can purchase up to $400 of products from Best Buy while at the in-store party.
^ Players can purchase up to $300 in Sony Electronics products that are showcased to them at the team hotels.
Notes: All times listed are ET. Product details are provided as they were available. In addition to the main gift categories shown, many bowl committees give participants smaller items such as T-shirts, footballs and/or miniature helmets. Most electronics
Research by Danielle Oliver, SportsBusiness Journal
Sources: Bowl committees and vendors
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