SBJ/20100628/Marketing/Sponsorship opting out of NFL sponsorship after two seasons

Employment site has quit the NFL, opting out of a seven-figure league sponsorship that it held for the past two seasons.

Since employment websites have not been huge sports spenders, we were impressed enough that the NFL got big bucks for a “found money” category. However, the activation was also notable.

During the past two seasons, Monster ran a promotion and sweepstakes, dressed up as a job search, in which contestants vied to become “director of fandemonium” for the league. The title may have been honorary, but the benefits were tangible. Winners got $100,000 and were assigned a variety of high-profile duties, including participation in the Super Bowl coin toss and announcing a pick at the NFL draft.

The job site, which offered a position
as “NFL director of fandemonium,” is
reaching out in new directions, like
its deal with singer Alicia Keys.

Sources said Monster was still interested in that level of integration with properties that connect with consumers. However, Monster is now looking to open it to other passion points, like fashion, cooking or food, all of which engender deep loyalties but also would be less expensive. A current example sees team with singer Alicia Keys to select a “head blogger” for the Grammy winner’s website, resulting in 8,500 online job applications in five weeks.

Sources said Monster is looking
for properties that won’t become a bigger story than itself, as was sometimes the case with the NFL. Omnicom’s The Marketing Arm agency is Monster’s sports and sponsorship agency. BBDO, New York, another Omnicom shop, is Monster’s creative agency.

The job site has run Super Bowl ads for the past two years, so we’ll be interested to see if that continues.

 NOT JUST LUCK(Y): Greg Luckman has added CEO to his president title at GroupM ESP, the sports and entertainment shop founded as part of the world’s largest media-buying agency three years ago this month. During that time, revenue has quadrupled, and employee count has mushroomed from 20 to 50 people.


While many shops have tried to integrate sports and entertainment marketing services/consulting, few have had the success that Luckman’s shop has. In just three years it’s provided vital strategic consulting to Citi and Accenture as they were battered by the economy and Tiger Woods’ sex scandal, respectively. Other clients include Xerox, Gallo Winery, Genworth Financial, Novartis, Degree and Volkswagen.

High-profile deals included Xerox’s top-level signature sponsorship when Citi Field opened and its current status as presenting sponsor of Sting’s worldwide tour; VW’s MLS shirt sponsorship with D.C. United and an accompanying league deal; and Unilever’s Degree sponsorship with Soccer United Marketing that includes the Mexican national team, MLS and SuperLiga, targeting Hispanic men.

“The value of an agency always gets to their people and their relationships, and they are strong in both areas,” said Xerox CMO Christa Carone. “They’ve shown us how to make sponsorship and experiential marketing a deeper and more valuable part of our marketing mix.”

Rich Yaffa, the former CEO, has accepted the position as CEO of MV Group Holdings, a holding company that manages and funds not-for-profits. Bryce Townsend has been promoted to executive vice president from senior vice president and will serve as the No. 2 executive at GroupM ESP.

Even with sports representing 70 percent of GroupM ESP’s business, Luckman said he wants even more focus in that area.

“Sports and media are so closely aligned that it just makes sense,” he said. “The growth we’ve achieved and the team we’ve put together are proof of that.”

 TRENDICATOR: Noting that many clients spend an inordinate amount of time attempting to stay “on trend” and incorporate trend information in their own reports, longtime industry research guru and SportsBusiness Journal columnist Rich Luker is launching a monthly “Luker on Trends” publication designed to do just that.

ESPN is the first client to sign on for the service, which ranges from $2,500 and up, with higher levels including appearances by Luker himself. Each report will include a study, such as an update of some past studies that in 2001 indicated 70 percent of respondents thought sponsors should continue what they were doing in sponsorship. Two years ago, 50 percent said brands should back out of sponsorship commitments and invest more in cause-related sponsorships.

Terry Lefton can be reached at

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