SBJ/Jan. 17-23, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

BP will ramp up activation behind Cubs-White Sox series

The Chicago Cubs and White Sox and BP are planning an increase in marketing activity for the 2011 Crosstown Cup, with the interleague rivalry forming a key piece of the energy brand’s post-disaster promotional plans.

The MLB clubs early last year announced a three-year deal with BP in which the company became title sponsor of the clubs’ annual six-game interleague series, formalizing a long-standing rivalry. The marketing effort for the Crosstown Cup quickly became tempered as BP’s massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico became the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history.

Following a series of recent meetings between the two clubs and BP, plans for the second version of the Crosstown Cup include heightened point-of-sale promotion at Chicago-area BP gas stations; additional local media buys, including some outdoor signage; and more charitable and community service projects.

The effort ultimately aims to surpass what was planned for 2010 before those initial plans were scaled back.

“We’re all going to be much more aggressive with this [in 2011],” said Brooks Boyer, White Sox vice president and chief marketing officer. “Last year, we only did, maybe, 60 percent of what we had originally talked about. But there is going to be tons of activation this time. We’re proud to be associated with BP. We see them trying to make a wrong into a right [in the Gulf], and that’s precisely the kind of sponsor we want to have.”

Funding for this year’s Crosstown Cup marketing efforts was not disclosed, but BP executives branded the upward spike for 2011 as “significant.”

“We’re going to be much more focused on local activation and getting into the local communities,” said Linda Bartman, marketing communications manager for BP’s fuels marketing business. “As we move forward [following the spill], the Chicago area is certainly one of the areas in which we’re looking to go much deeper, and the Crosstown Cup is a significant part of that.”

Cubs and White Sox executives said there was never any thought of dropping BP as a sponsor or discontinuing the Cup following the spill.

“BP is a great brand and a great client,” said Wally Hayward, Cubs executive vice president and chief sales and marketing officer. “They are an important part of this community, with their North American headquarters right here in Chicago. We proudly stand by them.”

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