SBJ/20100607/This Week's News

Allstate close to keeping hands on Sugar Bowl

Allstate is poised to be the first sponsor to renew its BCS bowl title sponsorship with ESPN.

The insurance giant, which began title sponsoring the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans during the January 2007 game, is close to finalizing a deal that will keep its position on the game. The four-year deal would extend through the 2014 game.

Allstate has been negotiating with ESPN, which is responsible for selling all sponsorship and advertising inventory around the BCS games. ESPN picked up those rights as part of its four-year, $495 million deal to carry the BCS games through January 2014.

Allstate has been title sponsor of the New Orleans
BCS game since the 2007 edition.

Neither Allstate, which is consulting with IMG’s Chicago office, nor ESPN would comment on the deal, but industry insiders said both sides were in the process of finalizing the agreement.

Financial terms were not available, but ESPN has been shopping BCS bowl game title sponsorships along with seasonlong advertising packages for a little less than $20 million a year, sources said.

With the Sugar Bowl title sponsorship comes rights to the rotating national championship game, which is next scheduled to be in New Orleans in January 2012.

ESPN remains in discussions with Tostitos for the Fiesta Bowl and Citi for the Rose Bowl. FedEx has opted out of the Orange Bowl after a 21-year run, but ESPN has been in deep negotiations with Hershey’s to put the Reese’s brand on the BCS game in Miami.

With the new title sponsorship deal on the Sugar Bowl, Allstate will have a presence on ESPN’s college football coverage throughout the season.

That arrangement complements Allstate’s “Good Hands” field goal nets program, which puts its logo on field goal nets behind the goal posts in college stadiums around the country. Allstate has agreements with more than 60 schools as the program enters its sixth season of the field goal nets program, which has been an important point of differentiation in a highly competitive category.

State Farm is an NCAA corporate partner, which gives it considerable visibility around the men’s basketball tournament and other NCAA-sanctioned events. Geico is a major advertiser across many sports, including college football, while Nationwide spends healthy amounts in NASCAR and golf and has a significant partnership with Ohio State in its headquarters of Columbus.

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