SBJ/February 20-26, 2012/Franchises

Crew lands Barbasol for jersey deal

Barbasol, the iconic shaving cream brand that had Babe Ruth and Knute Rockne as its pitchmen in the 1920s, has signed a five-year deal to attach its name to the jerseys of the Columbus Crew.

Barbasol’s jersey deal includes TV, print and radio ads and signs in Crew Stadium.
The agreement, announced last week, is the largest corporate sponsorship in Crew history, said Mark McCullers, president and general manager of the Major League Soccer club.

McCullers would not disclose what Barbasol will pay for the jersey rights, but similar deals average about $2 million a year, according to league sources.

The deal with Barbasol now means the Colorado Rapids, FC Dallas and Sporting Kansas City are the only MLS clubs without jersey sponsors.

The jersey sponsorship builds on the connection that Barbasol has had with professional sports since the 1920s, said Tom Murray, CEO of Perio Inc., a Dublin, Ohio-based company that has owned the Barbasol brand since 2001. Its current sports partners include ESPN, Big Ten Network and football broadcaster Boomer Esiason. Barbasol also does some advertising with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Cleveland Cavaliers.

“This is getting us into the game by going on the field,” Murray said of the Crew jersey sponsorship. “That is real appealing.”

The deal also comes with television, print and radio advertising, and signs in Crew Stadium.

Murray said the Crew’s connections with young fans and ethnic groups are a good fit with the Barbasol brand. The company also will advertise Barbasol on the new LED ribbon board along the Crew Stadium pitch that will be visible during game telecasts.

Landing a jersey sponsor was one of the Crew’s top offseason goals, McCullers said. The team didn’t have one last year after Glidden Paints ended its jersey partnership.

He also said the Crew is making progress on its two other big goals: Selling 10,000 season tickets and landing a naming-rights sponsor for Crew Stadium.

Jeff Bell writes for Columbus Business First, an affiliated publication.

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