SBJ/May 2-8, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

HP signs Pacquiao for new tablet campaign

Two months after taking over management of Manny Pacquiao’s largely dormant global endorsement portfolio, promoter Top Rank has landed the fighter a spot in Hewlett-Packard’s upcoming campaign around its recently released tablet computer.

Working through agency William Morris, Top Rank submitted Pacquiao to HP when it learned the brand was looking for a select group of high-profile entertainers and athletes to feature in the campaign, which will include television, radio, print, outdoor and billboard components, all of which will feature the fighter and run globally.

Because of its broad line of products — including the tablet, PCs, printers and smartphones — HP struggled to find attractive endorsers who didn’t have conflicting deals. Many, such as NBA stars Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant, did. Because almost all of his contracts have been limited to the Philippines, Pacquiao was able to make the broadly structured HP deal work.

Top Rank would not discuss financials of the deal, other than to say it included HP products and a cash contribution toward charities of Pacquiao’s choice. The deal was attractive because of the level of credible exposure.

“The brand alignment, to us, is unparalleled,” said Lucia McKelvey, executive vice president of marketing for Top Rank. “It’s exactly what we’re looking for and the kind of deal we want. We hope by executing and doing this one well, others will buy into it.”

In February, Top Rank sent letters to a range of brands and advertisers, explaining that Pacquiao hoped to reverse years of confusion by naming Top Rank as his exclusive commercial agent for business outside the Philippines. Within days, McKelvey said, she began to make progress.

Top Rank also recently closed a licensing deal for Pacquiao that will place his name and likeness on a line of vegetables from State Street Produce, a San Antonio-based company that grows in Mexico and distributes to restaurants across the U.S. State Street will rename its product “Pacquiao’s Produce,” McKelvey said, using his name and likeness as it expands its distribution to retail outlets. Pacquiao’s face will appear on bags, boxes and delivery trucks.

Based on previous sales levels, the three-year deal will net Pacquiao at least $1 million annually.

“And that’s just based on what they were earning without him,” McKelvey said. “Assuming it goes well, it will never stop. If the company ends up doing well, he’ll always be on there. And we’ll help them achieve that.”

That has long been a question for those that have flirted with doing business with Pacquiao. Many have claimed to represent him, but few have delivered, causing large, credible brands to shy away.

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