Pepsi has 3 MLBers in the lineup for its annual baseball spot

New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia, Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria and Detroit Tigers outfielder Johnny Damon will appear in uniform as part of MLB sponsor Pepsi’s annual MLB ad. The new creative effort, from TBWA\Chiat\Day, is scheduled to break in May supporting Pepsi’s 13-year sponsorship of MLB. While details on the creative were scant, agency sources tell us that like so much of the beverage and snack food company’s marketing this year, the ad ties into the Pepsi Refresh Project cause-related effort, which will award $20 million this year to various organizations and causes suggested by the public for health, arts and culture, environmental, educational and other philanthropic efforts.

Sabathia, Longoria and Damon (from left) star in a Pepsi ad
scheduled to debut in May.

Three seasons ago, Damon appeared in a Pepsi ad with Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer. For Longoria, the Pepsi appearance is the latest in a string of ads that have him currently on the air touting New Era caps, 2K Sports’ “MLB  2K10” video game and in one of MLB’s “Beyond Baseball” institutional ads later this year.

 CARD GAME: Bank of America and the NFL have failed to come to terms on a new deal, marking the end of a relationship that dates to 2007, while the league’s ties with MBNA (acquired by BofA five years ago) date 15 years.

So with the league without an affinity credit card sponsorship, NFL team marketers are wondering if they can make credit card deals with their local bank partners. So far, the answer is no. In various communications, the league has advised its teams that even without a deal, it reserves the credit card category for league use. We have heard of some negotiations with card issuer Barclays for a league deal, but no success thus far.

“I understand they want to keep the category as a league deal,” said one NFL team marketer. “But if it is going to be club inventory eventually, we’re missing our prime selling season right now.” Said another team CMO, “To be fair, the credit card category is very much in flux now; it isn’t as profitable as it once was and may never be. Having said that, the league policy on this is about as clear as mud.”

There’s been some chatter about the league voting to give the category back to teams at the May ownership meetings in Dallas, but one senior ownership source said that “just isn’t going to happen that soon.” Why? It’s just a matter of precedent. As another club marketer told us “they know pretty well at the league that once they give a category to clubs, they aren’t getting it back.”

3-D DATA: Already overhyped by 3-D TV? So are we. Expect more hype and remember that every new medium turns to sports to sell its wares, especially in the introductory period.

With the increasing chatter, we’ve found a noticeable lack of information concerning the most basic fact: How many 3-D TV sets are there? Even personnel at the Consumer Electronics Association don’t have figures on the installed base. Their best estimate is that fewer than 1 percent of the nearly 115 million U.S. television homes have televisions that can show 3-D content. Of course, it is sales potential that has everyone all hot and bothered. In 2010, U.S. sales of 3-D sets are expected to increase from 600,000 to 1,050,000. The association’s chief economist, Shawn DuBravac, estimates that 3-D TVs will account for more than 25 percent of all TV sales by 2013.

With Reebok deal near end, could
NFL split apparel/cap rights in new
equipment deal?

 HAT TRICK: RFPs are in at the NFL for the league’s next uniform deal and along with the expected contenders — Adidas, Nike, Under Armour — one intriguing name we’re hearing is New Era, which has exclusive MLB on-field cap rights. The NFL uniforms rights holder and cap have been the same, so would the NFL consider an arrangement under which cap and jersey rights are separated? With all the proposals now in at 280 Park Avenue, we’re hearing any variety of arrangements are being considered. As far as a timetable, we’re told that a decision is hoped for in time by the October owners meeting. Incumbent rights holder Reebok’s deal runs through the 2011 season, meaning it could be facing the last year of its reign as exclusive NFL on-field apparel rights holder as a lame duck and with a possible work stoppage.

 COMINGS & GOINGS: John Vidalin, Houston Texans vice president of sales and marketing, is departing that NFL team for another. Vidalin, who had been with the Texans for five years, will be chief revenue officer at the San Francisco 49ers. He has also held marketing jobs with the Washington Capitals. … Former President Faust Capobianco IV has quietly exited Majestic Athletic. The move comes three years after VF bought the Capobianco’s family-owned business. … In last week’s item about Sears expanding MLB team ties, we neglected to mention that Paragon Marketing Group, Niles, Ill., is the retailer’s sponsorship agency of record. Our apologies. … Steve Thomas has exited the New Jersey Devils and Prudential Center as vice president of sponsorship after only a month for a job with ABC. Thomas was with the Tampa Bay Lightning before joining the Devils. … We’ve been hearing that former NASCAR and NBA marketer Jeffrey Pollack has the financial backing to start a marketing concern that he would head. Pollack confirmed that for us, but was short on specifics and considerably more interested in talking about his role as an extra in a coming episode of HBO’s “Entourage,” filmed last week. “There may be a SAG [Screen Actors Guild] card in my future,” he said.

Terry Lefton can be reached at

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