SBJ/20100412/Marketing/Sponsorship

SportsNet sees ad sales uptick; Stanley tools around in sports

We’re always interested in tracking the connection between pro teams’ performance on and off the field. Certainly, on-field success never hurts, but the correlation isn’t as simple as wins = sales. Some of the best property sales people we know place wins far down the list of reasons why anyone should buy their wares.

Looking at the reverse cause-effect can also be intriguing. The New York Mets finished with 70 wins last year, 19 fewer than in 2008. Nonetheless, ad sales at Mets regional sports network SportsNet New York are up 10 percent from a year ago. That includes about 40 newcomers like Mass Mutual, Metro PCS and Poland Spring, incumbents like Subway, which stepped up to the title sponsorship of the SNY Mets’ pregame show, along with the usual heavy media buys from the octet of top-level team sponsors: Anheuser-Busch, Citi, Delta, Geico, Harrah’s, Pepsi, Verizon and Xerox.

Of course, it’s a stronger ad market than the virtual deep freeze of a year ago, but is that enough to explain the increase?

“There’s more money out there, and New York continues to be a baseball town for marketers and fans,” said SNY President Steve Raab. He added that the spirits and beer category, where the network has new business from Absolut, Jim Beam and Boston Beer, continues to expand, along with home improvement (Lowe’s) and insurance.

 MARKETING TOOLS: Those on the lookout for sports spenders from new categories should cast an eye at Stanley Tools. Outside of NASCAR, we aren’t used to any tool brand spending significantly in sports. However, Stanley has gone from one MLB team sponsorship two years ago (with Boston) to a dozen team deals this year, adding the New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Angels and Dodgers, along with Florida, Houston, Kansas City, Minnesota, Tampa Bay, Texas and Toronto during that time.

Stanley Tools has gone from one MLB team
sponsorship two years ago to a dozen this year.

With a primary objective of brand awareness among its male 18-35 target demo, Stanley selected its markets based on where the best camera-visible signs were available.

“We want to be perceived, both in the park and on TV, as one of a team’s top handful of sponsors, so bigger is better for us,” said Earle Smola, Stanley’s manager of brand design, sponsorships and event marketing.

That has resulted in prime positioning in locations such as the main scoreboard in Fenway Park, an oversized (29-by-75-foot) sign above the left-field wall in Chicago’s U.S. Cellular Field, and signage in Minnesota that switched from the entire right-field “baggie” last year at the Metrodome to primary bullpen signage in the Twins’ new Target Field. It also has a sign adjacent to the black “batter’s eye” in Yankee Stadium and Rogers Centre in Toronto, where Stanley’s trademark yellow is particularly evident.

While it can’t be attributed entirely to the increased investment across MLB, unaided awareness of Stanley in an annual brand-tracking survey was up 12 percent last year. This year, the toolmaker is trying to add ties with local retailers.

With that many club deals, Smola said he has looked at a national MLB deal, but that “we tend to start small and build.”

Stanley’s DeWalt and Mac Tools brands are also being integrated into the MLB deals this year. Peter Stern’s Strategic, N.Y., is Stanley’s MLB agency.

 EARLY DRAFT: Other than the athletic footwear apparel companies, Subway is usually the first marketer to make use of high-profile NFL draftees, and the quick-service restaurant has selected Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and Clemson running back C.J. Spiller as spokesmen in and around the April 22-24 NFL draft. As was the case in prior years with prospects like Reggie Bush, the collegians will make appearances and blog on Subway’s Fresh Buzz portal.

“We like having a big guy and a fast guy in the mix,” said Subway CMO Tony Pace, adding that Spiller’s sandwich of choice is a “carnivore’s delight”: a meatball sub with pepperoni.

 JUST FOR KICKS: Looking to expand its soccer business during a World Cup year, Paragon Marketing Group has created a strategic alliance with former U.S. Soccer Federation Secretary General Hank Steinbrecher, who is also a former Gatorade marketer.

“The American soccer landscape is still underdeveloped. The World Cup will spike interest even more, and we need to be there with the right people to grab that opportunity,” said Paragon partner Tony Schiller, adding that the Niles, Ill., agency is already working on two soccer assignments and is talking to brands and properties in pursuit of more.

Steinbrecher said that regardless of the World Cup, or America’s success in it, “There are still so many companies trying to figure out an intelligent way into soccer in America, and outside of ESPN, I can’t name one brand doing a great job marketing the sport. You even have World Cup sponsors choosing not to spend here. Obviously, that needs to change.”

Steinbrecher continues as president of Touchline Consulting.

 HERE AND THERE: Under Armour has signed on as Temple University’s new athletic apparel outfitter. The deal begins in July and includes the Owls basketball and football teams. Temple has been with Adidas. … Lew Sherr joins the U.S. Tennis Association as managing director of corporate partnerships, reporting to chief business and marketing officer Harlan Stone. Sherr was vice president of marketing partnerships at MSG, and held marketing slots at Time Warner, Clear Channel and Wilson Sporting Goods. … Ready for Monument Park, the store? Yankee Stadium opens for its second season this week with a 900-square-foot retail space dedicated to Monument Park. It will sell apparel and hard goods bearing the likenesses of some of the memorial’s big names, including Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. … Neil Davis, chief revenue officer and principal for the New Jersey Nets’ sponsorship sales at their planned Brooklyn arena, is leaving the team at the conclusion of the NBA season. No replacement has been named.

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

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