SBJ/20090608/This Week's News

Bayer builds on to MLB sponsorship with emphasis on prostate cancer awareness

With increasing awareness of male prostate cancer and improving sales of its One A Day vitamins formulated to address the issue, Bayer is buffering its MLB sponsorship, which already supports the One A Day men’s vitamin.

“We’ve moved the needle,” said Reese Fitzpatrick, Bayer’s senior brand manager, before repeating the Bayer mantra that one in three men will face prostate issues and one in six will be diagnosed with the disease. “So we are taking it to the next level.”

Derek Lowe and John Smoltz
star in a One A Day ad.

As many sponsorships are being pared in deference to the economic squeeze, Bayer’s got two baseball-themed TV ads running this season and added more weight, including deals with the fledgling MLB Network and ESPN Radio’s MLB broadcasts. The Strike Out Prostate Cancer Challenge, in which Bayer donates $10 for each MLB strikeout, continues. Last season, the program raised $328,840. Two pitchers have been added this year as spokesmen: Atlanta’s Derek Lowe and John Smoltz, the 20-year MLB veteran rehabbing from injury with the Boston Red Sox. The pair has recorded radio spots and will also appear in ads later this month in Sports Illustrated. They will also do appearances and media tours.

Paragon Marketing Group handles for Bayer. Paragon partner Tony Schiller said his client is following a simple formula, but one not universally adopted across the sponsorship universe. “They defined their objective to a T, put in the right activation plan, and they’re really working that plan,” he said.

Bayer is in the second year of a four-year MLB sponsorship.

MLB’s other prostate cancer fighting program is fast approaching.  On Father’s Day, players, managers, coaches, trainers, umpires and groundskeepers support the cause by wearing blue wristbands and blue ribbon uniform decals. There will also be special Baseball Blue Ribbon Father’s Day lineup cards. Many of those items will be auctioned off later. A Home Run Challenge program running from June 11-21 solicits monetary pledges from fans for home runs hit during that time.

The MLB Father’s Day promotions in 2008 raised nearly $2.5 million for the Prostate Cancer Foundation. Since 2002, they have raised a total of $17.6 million.

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