SBJ/20100510/This Week's News

Sweet deal in works for Orange Bowl

Hershey’s is close to a deal with ESPN to title-sponsor the Orange Bowl with its Reese’s brand, according to several sources.

The brand, which has increased its spending around intercollegiate sports in the last several years, is in negotiations on a four-year deal worth just under $20 million a year.

That follows confirmation last week that FedEx has ended its 21-year run as the event’s title sponsor (SportsBusiness Journal, May 3-9). One of the reasons FedEx walked away is that it did not want to buy a seasonlong package, starting in September, around ESPN’s college football telecasts. ESPN, which is responsible for selling all sponsorship and advertising inventory around the BCS games, has been tying title sponsorships to full-season advertising commitments.

A platform that stretches from the start of college football season in late August through the BCS games after New Year’s Day would provide sponsors with a four-month-plus platform, in addition to the game’s title rights. With the title package, Reese’s also would put its brand on the rotating national championship game at least once during the four-year deal.

The seasonlong platform also would provide the candymaker with heavy messaging and point-of-sale opportunities around Halloween.

An Orange Bowl title deal would significantly expand Hershey’s already ample position in the collegiate sponsorship landscape. Hershey’s portfolio is headlined by a multiyear deal as an NCAA corporate partner that was struck in July 2008.

As part of the NCAA deal, Reese’s has been the title sponsor for the College All-Star Game, which features college basketball’s top seniors playing in the same stadium as the Final Four games. Hershey’s in recent years has signed new deals with the Big East and Big Ten conferences.

Hershey’s also has sponsorships with the universities of Texas and Tennessee, both of whom use orange, or a variant, as their primary color. Of course, Reese’s uses orange for its packaging, which would be a match for the Orange Bowl as well.

In motorsports, Hershey’s has NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick promoting Reese’s and it joined Earnhardt Ganassi Racing this year on Juan Pablo Montoya’s No. 42 Chevy.

ESPN will be carrying the Orange Bowl in January for the first time as part of its four-year, $495 million deal to carry all BCS games.

Fox, which carried the BCS games for the previous four years, was believed to be selling title sponsorships in a range of less than $20 million annually.

Renewal talks are continuing between ESPN and Tostitos for the Fiesta Bowl, Allstate for the Sugar Bowl and Citi for the Rose Bowl.

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