SBJ/July 25-31, 2011/Leagues and Governing Bodies

Tiffany to sponsor USSA’s Gold Pass ski resort program

The U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association signed a three-year deal with Tiffany & Co. that makes the jeweler the first sponsor of the organization’s famous Gold Pass, which provides top donors with unlimited access to any ski resort in the country.

The deal is valued in the mid-six figures annually. It will make Tiffany the official vendor for the USSA’s Gold Pass and see it develop a line of signature licensed product, such as U.S. Ski Team cuff links, money clips or bracelets.

The USSA Foundation offers the Gold Pass to donors that contribute more than $10,000 annually. The pass provides unlimited access to any ski resort in the country. The nonprofit, which serves as the fundraising arm of the USSA, sells more the 300 Gold Passes a year to some of its most affluent donors.

Tiffany’s logo will be on the 2011-12 Gold Pass. It is the first time the USSA has sold a sponsorship for a piece of inventory controlled by its foundation.

“They’re taking an asset that would have sat in our foundation and leveraging it commercially,” said Andrew Judelson, USSA’s chief revenue and marketing officer. “The season is perfect because those Gold Passes are delivered in late October [in a Tiffany box], right before the holiday sales season. It’s a target audience at a very strategic time.”

Tiffany has sponsorships with USA Basketball, the Chicago Cubs, the New York Jets and Giants, the U.S. Open (tennis), the PGA Tour, and the ING New York City Marathon. Tom O’Rourke, Tiffany’s vice president of business sales, said the company signed on because of the demographics of recreational skiers and the hospitality experience it will be able to offer clients at USSA competitions.

“The audience USSA reaches is not one we traditionally have a way of getting to,” O’Rourke said. “From a gut level, you know the recreational skier simply has to be more affluent because of the nature of the sport. The audience aligns well with our consumer.”

USSA announced the deal last week during its partner summit in Park City, Utah. More than 140 people attended, a 55 percent increase from 2010.

USSA also announced a plan to hold the 2012 NASTAR Championships, the grassroots national ski event, at the same time and place as the 2012 U.S. Alpine Championships.

The USSA generated $7.4 million in sponsorship revenue in 2010, according to tax filings, but Judelson said deals with Tiffany, The North Face and other new sponsors this year put it on track to exceed that revenue in 2011.

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