SBJ/20100201/Marketing/Sponsorship

Wrapping up dollar figures, other suitors in Sun Life Stadium deal

Since it’s the site of the Super Bowl, we felt it necessary to revisit the deal that last month turned what was once known as Joe Robbie Stadium into Sun Life Stadium.

Addendum one: Since originally reporting $7.5 million a year for the five-year deal, we’ve heard quite a range of other prices, from $4 million per annum, which seems low, to $6 million, a figure we now believe.

More intriguing is that it could have been MetroPCS Stadium eight months ago. Sources familiar with the negotiations tell us the NFL Dolphins had interest from MetroPCS but rejected that company’s overtures to do the no-fee promotional arrangement with Jimmy Buffett that got his Land Shark Lager on the stadium nameplate from May until last month.

While no formal offer was made, sources said MetroPCS, with 600 stores in South Florida, would have paid upward of $6 million a year (one source said they would have gone as high as $8 million) for a five-year deal. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross rejected the deal because he thought the stadium naming-rights were worth $10 million annually, because he was not thrilled with the name MetroPCS Stadium, and because he wanted to pursue a show-biz strategy with entertainers like Buffett and Gloria Estefan.

In April, MetroPCS was told the Dolphins were “going in another direction,” and the Land Shark deal was announced in May. The Sun Life deal was rolled out last month, meaning Ross left millions on the table — something that’s easier to do when you’re a billionaire.

Addendum two: Fenway Sports Group made a land grab for credit on the deal, with a PR reachout and a congratulatory ad in these pages. While we’re told FSG made the initial introductions and thus earned a commission, the agency you haven’t heard of relative to this deal is Van Wagner, a company better known for signage.

Drew Brees (left) and Joseph Addai are shooting
footage with Dove Men+Care.

Van Wagner has been developing expertise and clients in the venue-branding area under Kip Koslow, who directs the agency’s sports and entertainment consulting. Van Wagner evaluated the deal and negotiated on behalf of Sun Life. It’s also handling implementation of cornerstone partnerships at the new Jets/Giants NFL stadium for Pepsi and MetLife, for which it is the agency of record.

Van Wagner got a one-time exemption from MetLife to work on the Sun Life deal. Pepsi has also assigned some chores at the new Cowboys Stadium to Van Wagner.

We’ll be interested to see if Sun Life wants to augment its deal via outfield signage with the Florida Marlins, another stadium tenant. Last year, that wall had both Geico and State Farm ads. Sun Life’s categories are not very broad. They are financial insurance (health and annuity), plus financial advisory.

 MILKING IT: Unilever’s Dove Men+Care skin care line is backing its Super Bowl ad buy with a Web effort modeled on the iconic got milk?/milk mustache campaign for a national consortium of milk processors.

Just as a player from each team competing in the Super Bowl annually shoots a milk mustache ad in the weeks leading up to the game, two players — New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees and Indianapolis running back Joseph Addai — were shooting stills and video last week on behalf of the Dove line. Footage from the winning team’s player will be used in a large post-Super Bowl online ad effort across a variety of sports sites, including FoxSports.com and Yahoo! Sports.

The Ryan Partnership handles for Unilever. Ogilvy & Mather is Dove’s creative shop.

 NOT OVERINSURED: Prudential is the name on the arena that the New Jersey Devils call home, but Insurance Office of America has signed as the team and arena’s first official insurance broker. In a five-year deal that’s largely a business-to-business marketing play, IOA gets tickets, hospitality, concourse and LED signage, along with some radio and Web site inventory.

The deal, the first NHL sponsorship for IOA, expands a sports strategy that’s atypical for the insurance brokerage category but standard practice for the big brands in the category, like Allstate and State Farm. IOA also has sponsorships with the Orlando Magic, Jacksonville Jaguars and University of Central Florida. The UCF deal includes title rights to the main plaza at UCF’s Bright House Networks Stadium after a $2 million gift in 2007.

Premier Partnerships brokered the Pru Center deal for IOA.

 BRIDGE TO CHINA?: Ask any U.S. property marketer what’s needed to establish a beachhead in a foreign market, and the answer you’ll hear is a player from that country competing in the United States. Every league is looking to China’s billion-plus consumers enviously, and one need look no further than the impact that Yao Ming and other Chinese nationals have had on the NBA in China to see why.

The NFL’s answer to Yao will be available in the next player draft. He won’t be an overall No. 1 pick, like Yao was, but 6-foot-5, 310-pound Ed Wang, an offensive lineman from Virginia Tech, will be the first player of direct Chinese ancestry drafted by the NFL. Most scout sites have pegged him to be between a second- and fourth-rounder.

The Lakers and Staples Center
owner AEG added a retail crown
to the club’s NBA title.

From a marketing perspective, though, Wang is a first-round pick, since he’d be a portal to China for the NFL or any companies he endorses. Wang is fluent in Mandarin, and his parents were members of China’s Olympic team in the 1970s.

Octagon is representing him for both contracts and marketing. We’re told both domestic and Chinese footwear companies have already expressed some interest, as has the NFL itself.

 TEAM SELLING: The NBA has named the Los Angeles Lakers and Staples Center owner AEG as its Team Retailer of the Year. Having the team win its 15th league title last season didn’t hurt, but sales were also at championship levels. Merchandise per caps were up 7 percent over the prior year, and the Lakers were ranked No. 1 in NBA merchandise per caps for the third year in a row.

AEG also increased the amount of licensed merchandise in its product assortment by 6 percent; ran innovative promotions and had key matchup merchandise, like product dedicated to the Lakers vs. Cavaliers on Christmas Day; and supported NBA league initiatives, including NBA Green and NBA Fit.

BRC Group sees star power
in new signee Giovani dos
Santos of Mexico.

“They’re our top-selling team and all the things we preach as far as best practices, they do,” said Brian Keegan, the NBA’s vice president of retail marketing and development.

 GOAL ORIENTED: Looking to cash in on America’s growing Hispanic population in a World Cup year, Brad Rothenberg’s BRC Group has signed a one-year exclusive U.S. marketing representation deal for 20-year-old Giovani dos Santos, the Mexican-born soccer star who’s called by some the future of Mexican soccer and possibly the face of his national team during the FIFA tournament this summer.

“He’s to Mexican soccer what Landon Donovan has been to the U.S., as far as star power,” Rothenberg said.

 HERE & THERE: Longtime Kraft Foods marketer Stephen Chriss moves from director of snacks, consumer and customer engagement, to heading up a new companywide function including sponsorship marketing as senior director, corporate scale and marketing alliances. Promotions under Chriss’ aegis include the NFL Manning brothers’ participation in the fictitious Oreo Double Stuf Racing League. … eLayaway has signed NFL hall of famer Marcus Allen as a spokesman. Co-founder and CEO Sergio Pinon said Allen will be a “brand ambassador,” used for appearances and possibly in some advertising. The company, which now has the NFL Saints, Vikings and Jaguars and the NHL Red Wings under contract, used Deion Sanders as a spokesman several years ago. … OTC joint pain supplement Instaflex has signed soccer hall of famer Carla Overbeck as an endorser. Overbeck will be used largely for online marketing efforts; Sue Rodin’s Stars & Strategies handles.

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

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