SBJ/October 3-9, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Unilever takes Dove’s ‘Journey to Comfort’ to BCS, ESPN

Terry Lefton
Unilever is expanding the 18-month-old “Journey to Comfort” marketing campaign behind its Dove Men+Care personal products line with a BCS sponsorship from ESPN and a new series of ads with ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit. The former Ohio State QB joins a roster of sports figures for “Journey to Comfort” that has included Drew Brees, Albert Pujols, Joe Girardi and Andy Pettitte.

The BCS sponsorship bookends Unilever’s NCAA deal signed earlier this year and marks another sponsorship for a personal-care products marketer. Recently, there have been deals between Dial with the NBA for its Right Guard deodorant and Procter & Gamble for Head & Shoulders shampoo and other brands with the NFL, MLB, the U.S. Olympic Committee and, later, a global International Olympic Committee deal.

“You know that it’s best to speak to the 30- to 40-year-old guys through sports in some capacity, but we dimensionalize our guys by showing their connections to friends and family, and it really has turned out to be a powerful differentiator for us,” said Rob Candelino, marketing director, personal wash U.S., Unilever.
ESPN’s Herbstreit appears in new Dove ads.

Without revealing specifics, Candelino said the Dove for Men line, introduced in 2010, has exceeded expectations in terms of trial, market share, brand equity and sales, “and while it is difficult to track any campaign directly to sales, we are very happy.”

The new BCS deal includes print, digital and social media applications across various ESPN media and every BCS game. Multiple sweepstakes offer football merchandise and BCS Bowl tickets as prizes. Other Unilever brands, Degree Men and Axe, will also be tied with ESPN talent Chris Fowler and analyst Desmond Howard.

JOSEPH CRACHIOLA
Wasserman Media Group will help the Palace of Auburn Hills target a naming-rights sponsor.
NAMING THE PALACE?: Wasserman Media Group
has won an agency shootout to take the 23-year-old Palace of Auburn Hills, one of the NBA’s oldest arenas, into the modern era with a naming-rights deal. Industry estimates put a possible deal for the Palace, which plays host to about 200 events annually, at $2.5 million to $3 million a year. We’re told that longtime Pistons owner Bill Davidson had no interest in naming rights, but with new owner Tom Gores in place as of April, that has changed. Even so, whether the home court to the Detroit Pistons ever gets a corporate name seems less than certain.

“The broad agenda from ownership is to serve and connect better to the community and fans, win games and drive our bottom line,” said Dennis Mannion, who was named president of the Pistons and Palace Sports & Entertainment last month. “If we can use this building to accomplish those goals, so be it. We’re not in this to get a bunch of money for a building name, but if we can get a deal that improves our fan experience and drives revenues, that’s where we want to go. We want a marketer that will bring novel execution.” Another problem is how much space there is left for a building sponsor’s name to be added to the already somewhat cumbersome “Palace of Auburn Hills.”

Added Wasserman Media Group sales chief John Brody, “Our job is evaluating what we can do to help augment the fan experience, but that could end with a recommendation for several sponsors instead of one big one.”

COMINGS & GOINGS: Former Procter & Gamble director of global sports marketing Jason Dial has quietly resurfaced as CMO of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Dial, a P&Ger for 18 years before his departure in 2009, will head advertising, fan initiatives and “everything that touches our fans.”

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

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