SBJ/March 11-17, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

Learfield deal helps LG go local

For four years, LG Electronics has enjoyed the national exposure that comes with its NCAA corporate partnership, but it also wanted more local touch points to round out its collegiate marketing.

Through a deal with Learfield Sports that provides marketing and media rights at 14 schools, LG hit the ground with a campaign that offers local activation at Best Buy locations across the country.

LG is promoting events designed to draw college basketball fans to local Best Buy stores, such as this one in North Carolina.
LG ELECTRONICS
These events typically feature a former coach or player with ties to the local college signing autographs and posing for pictures at a Best Buy store.

Anywhere from 150 to 250 fans have attended some of the first events, which offer LG a unique setting in which to show off its products. LG is pushing products from all three of its divisions — appliances, mobile and home entertainment — that sell at Best Buy.

“When we evaluate what we’ve done in collegiate sports, it seemed like a natural progression for us to look to localize our sponsorship,” said Michelle Acosta-Donovan, LG’s director of sponsorships and consumer promotions. “We worked very closely with Best Buy to find the markets that they were looking to activate against and then we identified the schools in those markets that we could leverage.”

The 14 schools LG bought through Learfield were Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Iowa State, Miami, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Oregon State, Purdue, San Diego State, Stanford, Texas A&M and Wisconsin. LG’s
LG’s deal at 14 Learfield colleges, including Purdue, packages promotional rights, radio and digital ads, signs in the arenas and hospitality.
COURTESY OF LEARFIELD SPORTS
first Learfield relationship was at Minnesota, and the broader deal grew out of that. The Best Buy promotions started in February and run into this month.

At each school, New Jersey-based LG bought promotional rights, radio and digital advertising, signage inside the basketball arenas, and hospitality.

Those advertising assets, as well as social media, newspaper circulars and LG.com, were used to promote the local Best Buy events.

“The big thing for us was utilizing the local talent, former coaches and players, to be at the store,” Acosta-Donovan said. “That’s making a connection with a passion point for the fans.”

The deal between LG and the Learfield schools also provides something of a road map for Learfield to do more national deals across several properties. Learfield represents the multimedia rights for 50 schools across the country.

Rival rights holder IMG College set out to establish a national sales division more than two years ago, and has experienced some success with sales to UPS, Lowe’s, MillerCoors and a handful of national brands across several of its schools.

Learfield brought on Roy Seinfeld as executive vice president of national sales, in January, and he said the LG deal can be a “poster child for how to do these types of national deals.”

“This is a unique, customized program with local activation that takes the brand into the market and onto campus, and is national in scope,” Seinfeld said. “This is exactly what I’m pitching, and that’s the connection that can be made in market, as part of a national buy. This is a big deal for Learfield, the type of thing we’re looking to do more, so that brands can take full advantage of the assets we have to offer.”

Looking ahead to March Madness, LG will run a promotion under its “Do March Right” umbrella. Beginning Sunday, LG will run a bracket of favorite game-watching recipes, and visitors to LG.com/us/ncaa will select the winners by round.

LG also has new advertising that will break with the start of the tournament. Octagon handles LG’s marketing, while the brand works with its in-house agency, LG Ad, on its commercial production.

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