SBJ/August 27-September 2, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

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  • ESPN’s Herbstreit to help Allstate bring ‘Mayhem’ to college football

    Allstate is bringing back its “Mayhem” theme for the college football season, and ESPN on-air talent Kirk Herbstreit will endorse the brand.

    A chance to meet Herbstreit is included in an Allstate sweepstakes.
    Photo by: JOE FARAONI / ESPN
    The insurance giant this week will launch a seasonlong promotion called the “60 Seconds of Mayhem Sweepstakes.”

    Herbstreit has a varied role with Allstate, appearing in creative for TV, radio and online advertising. The ESPN “College GameDay” star and game analyst also will plug the promotion through media interviews over the course of the season.

    Herbstreit is part of the prize package for the sweepstakes winner as well. Two finalists, selected at random, will compete in a field-goal-kicking competition prior to the Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans with a chance to win a new truck, boat, motorcycle and travel trailer. The kicking competition will be held at Allstate’s fan fest in the French Quarter.

    A VIP trip to meet Herbstreit at the 2013 BCS championship game is part of the prize.

    The promotion goes live this week at AllstateCFB.com and entries will be taken through Nov. 30. Weekly prizes will be offered to visitors on the site.

    Fans also can enter at Allstate’s mobile marketing tour as it travels to schools that are sponsored by Allstate.

    This is the second season that Allstate has run a college football promotion around its “Mayhem” theme but the first season that Herbstreit has been used to endorse it.

    Herbstreit also has endorsement deals with Chevolet, Kellogg’s Cheez-It, Armour-Eckrich Meats and EA Sports, among others.

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  • Azarenka clocks in with Citizen for three-year deal

    Victoria Azarenka, the No. 1-ranked women’s tennis player in the world, has agreed to an endorsement deal with Citizen Watch.

    World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka and Citizen Watch President Jeffrey Cohen
    Photo by: CITIZEN WATCH CO.
    The deal was expected to be announced today, the first day of the U.S. Open Tennis Championships. Citizen is also the official timekeeper of the Open.

    The three-year deal does not require Azarenka to wear a watch while playing tennis but rather during social occasions. She was shooting ads last week while in New York.

    “I can’t wait to sit down with the Citizen design team to create my own signature watch,” she said in a statement supplied by her agent, John Tobias, of Lagardère Unlimited.

    Drew LeMesurier, Lagardère’s director of talent marketing, put the deal together, Tobias said.

    Azarenka did not previously have a watch deal, a key category for top tennis players.

    She does have deals with Nike, Wilson and Iovate, a protein supplement company.

    Citizen also counts LPGA Tour golfer Paula Creamer and New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning as endorsers.

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  • Mello Yello taking over as NHRA title sponsor

    Editor's note: This story is revised from the print edition.

    A multiyear extension between the NHRA and Coca-Cola will see the company change the brand it features as the title sponsor of the drag racing series from Full Throttle to Mello Yello.

    Sources said the deal, which is expected to be announced this week in Indianapolis, will extend Coca-Cola’s sponsorship of the series through 2018. Its current contract was set to end after the 2013 season. It pays $3 million to $4 million annually for its Full Throttle sponsorship and the new deal is in the same range, according to industry sources.

    As title sponsor, Mello Yello will be integrated into the NHRA logo used on everything from publications and promotions to driver uniforms. The brand also receives ad inventory during NHRA races on ESPN2 and digital inventory on the NHRA’s website.

    The NHRA declined to comment. A Coca-Cola official said that the company always looks for ways to engage new brands in sports sponsorships, but would not discuss the change in brands on the title sponsorship.

    It is the second time Coca-Cola has changed the brand it features as the title sponsor of the NHRA’s top series. Powerade sponsored the series from 2001 through 2008. Full Throttle replaced it in 2009.

    Sources familiar with Coca-Cola’s decision said the move to Mello Yello reflects the company’s desire to streamline its marketing and sales efforts in the energy drink category and chip away at Mountain Dew’s lead in the citrus soda category.

    Coke has used Full Throttle as the NHRA title sponsor in its current deal.
    Photo by: ICON SMI
    Coca-Cola owns two energy drink brands, Nos and Full Throttle, and its bottling system distributes Monster Energy. Company and bottling executives have said in the past that the number of energy drinks in the company’s portfolio created confusion about which brand should be marketed most aggressively.

    The company appears to be phasing out Full Throttle, which has reduced the number of flavors it offers, and focusing its efforts on Nos. The brands have a combined 1 percent share of the $8.1 billion energy drink market, according to Mintel, a global market research company. By comparison, PepsiCo has a 5 percent share, Rockstar a 13 percent share, Monster a 29 percent share and Red Bull a 45 percent share.

    By shifting the NHRA sponsorship to its Mello Yello brand, Coca-Cola executives hope the company can chip away at PepsiCo’s leadership in the citrus soda category. Pepsi’s Mountain Dew dominates the category, Coca-Cola has struggled to wrestle away some of its market share.

    Mountain Dew and Diet Mountain Dew have an 84 share of the citrus segment in the soft drink category, according to Beverage Digest. Mello Yello’s share of the market is just 4 percent.

    “Coke’s tried a number of things,” said John Sicher, Beverage Digest’s editor. “They’re now putting more emphasis on Mello Yello. It’s hard to predict the future. The best thing I can say is that Mountain Dew is formidable and competing against it is going to be challenging.”

    Mello Yello was created in 1979, making it Coca-Cola’s oldest rival to Mountain Dew. The brand has a history in racing that can be traced to its NASCAR sponsorship of Kyle Petty’s No. 42 car and the fall Winston Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It was memorably featured on the car of the fictional driver Cole Trickle in the 1990 movie “Days of Thunder.”

    That type of equity and heritage should benefit the NHRA, which spent the last 3 1/2 years promoting a brand that was fourth in its category.

    The NHRA also stands to benefit from Mello Yello’s retail strength. Unlike Full Throttle, Mello Yello is distributed in grocery stores and big-box retailers. Coca-Cola in 2010 expanded its distribution of Mello Yello from the Midwest and Southeast to the Northeast and Northwest. That increases the likelihood that the NHRA will have point-of-sale promotions at stores like Wal-Mart, Kroger and other retail outlets nationwide.

    Coca-Cola considered using other brands with the NHRA, including Coke Zero, but it ultimately settled on Mello Yello because it felt the sport’s diverse fan base fit the brand’s multicultural marketing efforts. The company also believed the NHRA’s grassroots appeal would help the brand at retail.

    Coke has hired Red Moon in Charlotte to work on the NHRA sponsorship. The agency said it couldn’t comment.

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  • NASCAR toy delivers an impact

    Kids are being encouraged to buckle up when they play with NASCAR’s newest toy.

    The sport’s licensee, Spin Master, developed a series of collision-friendly toy cars called “NASCAR Bashers” that explode on impact. The toys are the first original line Spin Master has developed, and they encourage the type of crashes inherent to stock car racing that NASCAR has avoided promoting in recent years.

    NASCAR Bashers will be available at mass retailers and advertised on TV.
    Spin Master officials said they were trying to move away from the circle tracks and traditional model cars that licensees released in the past. The company did research that showed kids typically crashed model cars. That insight led them to develop a toy designed to come apart on impact and that can be put back together like Legos.

    “We recognize that’s a sensitive issue in the sport, but kids in their fantasy play, it’s all in their mind,” said Craig Drobis, Spin Master’s director of marketing, who formerly worked for Mattell’s Hot Wheels brand. “We’re not trying to be literal with what’s going on on the track, but we wanted to let kids play the way they play anyway. [NASCAR] had a lot fewer [reservations] than in the past.”

    Spin Master this Saturday will roll out an advertising campaign promoting its “Bashers.” Spots will air during kids programming on networks ranging from the Cartoon Network to the Disney Channel. The spots direct kids to a website (winaride2school.com) where they enter a sweepstakes that will award someone a ride to school with Roush Fenway Racing driver Carl Edwards.

    Blake Davidson, NASCAR vice president of licensing and consumer products, said it’s the first time in years that the sport has had a toy promoted on TV. He’s hopeful that, and the product’s availability at mass retailers ranging from Wal-Mart and Target to Toys R Us and Kmart, will help expose the sport to new potential fans.

    “There’s a lot of kids who will see this product on the shelf who may have never been to a NASCAR race and think it’s cool and gravitate to it for that reason,” Davidson said. “We hope to pique their interest in the sport.”

    In addition to the spot, Spin Master is sponsoring Nationwide Series driver Cole Whitt’s No. 88 car in this fall’s Atlanta and Texas races.

    NASCAR Bashers include three different toys: a car that costs $9.99, a hauler that costs $14.99 and a car with a launcher that costs $14.99. The car choices include the No. 99 (Edwards), No. 14 (Tony Stewart), No. 88 (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) and No. 48 (Jimmie Johnson). Their sponsors are featured on the cars.

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  • Tanzania’s ‘tentacles’ reach Seattle

    An unlikely sponsor is drawing attention to its product with advertising in Major League Soccer and the English Premier League: the United Republic of Tanzania.

    Seattle Sounders FC last month signed a one-year partnership with Tanzania, the East African country with a population of more than 43 million. The recent start of the EPL season marked the third consecutive year Tanzania has had a one-year advertising package deal with six clubs in that league. This season’s deal gives Tanzania in-stadium advertising with Sunderland, Newcastle, West Bromwich, Stoke City, Norwich City and Southampton.

    Tanzania has put its pitch in front of Sounders fans in Seattle and has deals with six EPL clubs.
    Photo by: SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC
    “We are extending our tentacles,” said Aloyce Nzuki, managing director of the Tanzania Tourism Board.

    The relationship with Sounders FC started two years ago, when Kurt Schmid, an assistant coach and scout with the club, attended training sessions of the Tanzanian national team in search of talent. Schmid, whose father, Sigi, is the head coach of the Sounders, invited Tanzanian forward Mrisho Ngassa to Seattle to train with the team. Ngassa’s trial with the Sounders was visited by a delegation of Tanzanian leaders, including Khamis Kagasheki, the country’s minister for natural resources and tourism.

    “The trip opened our eyes,” said Nzuki, who was part of the delegation. “Most of our advertising in the United States was in the East, and our visitor profiles told us that most of our tourists were from there, so we wanted to branch out. We figured a partnership with the Sounders meant our reach in the West would not just be in Seattle, but by visiting fans and on TV in some of the major regions of their opponents, like Portland, Vancouver and Los Angeles.”

    After assessing the impact of their Premier League advertising the last two seasons, the Tanzania group decided to experiment with a short-term deal in Seattle.

    “We love to cast a wide net for sponsors but never planned on casting it this wide,” said Ron Jenkins, Sounders vice president of corporate partnerships. “It’s an example of how different areas of a franchise — in this case, team operations and sponsorship — can come together to benefit the team.”

    Said Sounders co-owner Joe Roth, “We’re providing a visual reference to a country with unprecedented natural wonders. It’s also an opportunity to access a key region in the global market.”

    The country has signage at the team’s stadium, CenturyLink Field, and training facility, Starfire Sports Complex. In addition to two scoreboard messages and rotation on LED panels along the sideline of the pitch, there are two large murals at the stadium’s northwest and northeast tunnels that highlight Tanzania’s tourist attractions, including Mount Kilimanjaro, the Serengeti and Zanzibar. The murals debuted at a friendly last month against Chelsea and will remain at CenturyLink Field for all Sounders, Seattle Seahawks and University of Washington football games played at the stadium through next July.

    The Seahawks, owned by Sounders co-owner Paul Allen, share staff and stadium management with the soccer club. The murals’ visibility at Huskies games is value-added.

    According to Jenkins, the Sounders have 33,000 season-ticket holders and the Seahawks have 61,000, but there is an overlap of only 2 percent. Fan indexes compiled by both clubs revealed that many of their season-ticket holders like to travel overseas.

    Said Jenkins, “We were able to tell the tourism board, ‘You’re fishing where the fish are.’”

    While it is too early to gauge the campaign’s impact on Seattle’s tourists, Tanzania Tourism has heard from several tour operators from the Pacific Northwest. Nzuki said he is already considering a longer-term sponsorship with the Sounders.

    The Sounders and EPL contracts are Tanzania’s only sports deals. Financial details were not available.

    In the EPL, Nzuki and the tourism board opted to go with a six-pack of smaller clubs instead of one deal with a powerhouse like Manchester United or Liverpool FC. Teams in the mix have changed from year to year.

    “We understand that teams like Sunderland and Stoke City are not the biggest ones, but our sideline LED messages reach a lot of people at the stadiums and on television,” Nzuki said. “That includes fans of the big clubs.”

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  • NFL shifts Super Bowl merchandise game plan

    Terry Lefton
    Retail concession company Facility Merchandising Inc. will not have the rights to sell merchandise at Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans, marking the first time in 24 years FMI won’t be selling Super Bowl merchandise at the venue hosting the NFL’s title game. FMI also had the rights to operate the store-within-the-NFL-Experience-store.

    We’re fascinated by which companies will now have those valuable rights for the next NFL championship game — a combination of MainGate and Lids.

    Licensed product retailer Lids, which has around 1,000 locations, will administer sales of Super Bowl-licensed products at hotels in and around New Orleans and at the cavernous store within the NFL Experience. While Lids has not had a dedicated concessions business previously, its 23,000-square-foot store within an abandoned Nordstrom in downtown Indianapolis during the Super Bowl in February must have turned some heads among league officials.

    Lids’ 23,000-square-foot store at this year’s Super Bowl was “phenomenal,” one NFL exec said.
    Photo by: TERRY LEFTON / STAFF
    “We made a decision to try something new for this year,” said NFL consumer products chief Leo Kane.

    Venue concessions expert MainGate, which held hotel sales rights for Super Bowl merchandise in Indianapolis, will handle game-day merchandise sales at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

    “What Lids did in Indianapolis was phenomenal, so we want to see what they can do with NFLX,” Kane said. “We liked what MainGate did at Indy, so they will have the key league hotel [rights], and we’re intrigued to see what they can do in-stadium. … We want to continue to try and go with partners that come to us with innovation.”

    There is no official comment from any of the vendors involved.

    We’re told, by reliable sources, that bidding on merchandise rights for the 2014 Super Bowl in New Jersey, expected to be far more lucrative than the New Orleans affair, will begin in September. Still pending is the not-insignificant issue of where the NFL Experience will be located prior to Super Bowl XLVIII, which might make bidding a bit tricky.

    MILITARY ESCALATION: Having experienced double-digit increases in brand awareness within the first season of a three-year NFL sponsorship, USAA, which insures servicemen and women and their families, is adding more firepower for this year’s campaign.

    USAA Executive Director of Marketing Don Clark said brand “likability” was also up and that digital traffic was stimulated by ads within NFL telecasts. Given all the marketing noise within the hyperbolic insurance category, those positive metrics were enough to convince the league’s official military appreciation sponsor to amp up its NFL media budget, especially behind NBC’s “Sunday Night Football.”

    USAA is increasing its NFL club deals from less than a handful to 16 this year. The insurer will be lead sponsor in a Veterans Day tribute that would see those clubs hosting some sort of military appreciation effort.

    USAA last year staged a few patriotic card stunts in stadiums. This year, it is hoping to have as many as seven.
    Additionally, after research showed a connection between military personnel and fantasy players, USAA has launched a “military league.” Registered users are offered a sweepstakes overlay with a Super Bowl trip as top prize.

    BOOMBASTIC: ESPN’s Chris Berman is back for his fourth year as a pitchman for Applebee’s restaurant chain. Despite the reassignment of creative duties by the casual dining chain to Crispin Porter earlier this year, “Boomer” remains an Applebee’s pitchman. Spots filmed in New Jersey earlier this month have him in a faux “test kitchen,” touting the Applebee’s Two for $20 Southwest Showdown meal combo.

    Headline Media Management, New York, represents Berman.

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

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