SBJ/July 25-31, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

ANC sees marketing acquisitions as a sign of the times

Terry Lefton
It’s not unusual for companies to place a “For Sale” sign on themselves. But signage and marketing firm ANC is putting one on the rest of the sports marketing industry. The Purchase, N.Y., company, perhaps most recently renowned for its NBA and NCAA basket stanchion signage, which started with support from State Farm and has since been taken up by clients such as Starter, has retained business development firm RK Capital Partners to seek acquisitions within the sports marketing community.

Cifarelli
“We’ve been focusing on our LED signage business, acquired ScorePad last year to enhance our stadium business, so we’re feeling good about that side,” said ANC Sports President Jerry Cifarelli. “Now we’re looking to invest in the marketing side.” Cifarelli said ANC has been profitable for a decade and has no debt, 70 full-time employees and annual revenue of $50 million.

“This is a mature business,” he said, “so the quickest way for us to get that next level of $100 million is by acquisition.”

INDIANA PACERS
ANC is renowned for its basket stanchion signage, used by clients such as Starter.
ANC was purchased by Palladium Equity Partners two years ago, and that company is interested in building a larger sports platform with ANC’s management at the helm, Cifarelli said. Without being specific, Cifarelli said ANC is looking for small to medium-size firms in sponsorship development, marketing program activation, event planning and execution, corporate consulting, and advertising sales.

“Ideally, we want growing companies that can continue to grow, as well as complement ANC,” Cifarelli said.

FOOTBALL ON THE MENU: With the NFL labor logjam showing signs of breaking as of early last week, more marketers are mounting ad campaigns leveraging football ties, both official and unofficial. NFL sponsor Verizon last week was filming ads in and around Los Angeles, including football scenes filmed inside the Rose Bowl for the NFL Mobile wireless application. As was the case last year, quarterbacks Drew Brees (Saints) and Mark Sanchez (Jets) shot ads for the NFL’s official wireless carrier. While we’d heard for some time that Verizon was seeking to add Super Bowl winner Aaron Rodgers to its roster of QBs, instead, a defensive player joined the mix: linebacker Clay Matthews, Rodgers’ Green Bay teammate, who sacks Sanchez and does his signature muscle flex in one ad. Houston defensive end Mario Williams and NFL Network honcho Rich Eisen also make appearances in the spots. Another NFL sponsor, Phillips-Van Heusen, was shooting with NFL HOFer trio Steve Young, Jerry Rice and Deion Sanders. We hear, however, that the apparel company’s ties to the Pro Football Hall of Fame have waned.

Casual dining chain Applebee’s, one of many dining and drinking establishments relieved to be planning for a fall that will include Sunday football, is using ESPN uber-talent Chris Berman for the third consecutive year. This year’s TV campaign with Boomer was shot this month at an Applebee’s in Garfield, N.J. To underscore the message that the chain is also a destination for Saturday football viewing parties, ESPN college football analyst Jesse Palmer has joined the campaign. Meanwhile, fellow ESPNer Mark Schlereth joins the fun, with a deal under which his “Stinkin Good Green Chile” will be featured at all 26 Applebee’s in Colorado, where he lives. Mark Zimmerman at Headline Media Management, N.Y., handles for Berman and Schlereth. Palmer is handled by Playbook Inc.

COMINGS AND GOINGS: Former ESPN director of advertising Alex Kaminsky is now CMO at Team Type 1, an Atlanta-based cycling team sponsored by pharmaceutical firm Sanofi, in which six of its 20 members have diabetes. … Former NFL executive vice president of marketing Howard Handler departs MSG, where he held the same title, after 22 months. … John DeWaal becomes director of marketing at hat retailer Hat World/Lids.com, which will soon open its thousandth store. DeWaal, who was vice president of brand communication at New Era Cap until 2009, said he will relocate to Indianapolis, where Lids is headquartered.

Terry Lefton can be reached at tlefton@sportsbusinessjournal.com.

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