SBJ/July 1-7, 2013/Events and Attractions

MLB sponsors go big with All-Star activation

Chevrolet and new MLB partner T-Mobile will be the most aggressive sponsor activators around the four days of MLB All-Star Game activities in New York City.

Festivities begin July 13 with the All-Star 5K & Fun Run in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, for which MLB is hoping for 10,000 runners. The activities continue that night with a free New York Philharmonic and Mariah Carey concert in Central Park, for which 60,000 people are expected, building to the Home Run Derby, with Chevrolet as title sponsor, on Monday night and Tuesday’s game.

What Chevy’s officials were calling their biggest All-Star activation to date is backing relaunches of the automaker’s Impala sedan and the Silverado pickup truck. Chevy will have a huge media presence, with its usual presenting sponsorship of one of sports’ best sponsor integration efforts — the ninth annual Red Carpet Parade, in which All-Stars will be chauffeured through midtown Manhattan in Silverados, televised on MLB Network. Chevy also is presenting sponsor of the “Baseball Tonight” show airing just before the Home Run Derby, and of the Fox All-Star Game pregame show, during which it will debut a Silverado TV ad.

On the ground, Chevy will supply the pace car at the Fun Run and offer test drives outside the MLB Fan Fest, where inside it will display vehicles. Outside host Citi Field, Chevy will have a test track within the MLB sponsor zone. Cars will be awarded to the winners of the Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game MVP award by Chevy, which picked up title sponsorship this year after the departure of State Farm.

As always, the imperative is cutting through the clutter for sponsors, and no market is as cluttered with marketing noise and entertainment options as New York City.

“The magnitude of New York makes it tougher to break through, so we have to do a lot and make it big, which makes the sponsor commitment a real imperative,” said Tim Brosnan, MLB executive vice president of business.

The centerpiece of T-Mobile’s new three-year MLB sponsorship is an on-field communications system through which the carrier will eventually get cellphones to replace corded headsets when MLB managers call their bullpens. The system has been in testing with the Seattle Mariners for a month but is not yet ready for prime time.

“When the system is game ready, we’ll debut it,” said Mike Belcher, T-Mobile vice president of media and sponsorships. “Our plan is to do that in the second half [of the season].”

However, there will be no shortage of All-Star Game activation from T-Mobile, which is sponsoring the Fan Fest, debuting a TV ad with Los Angeles Dodger Adrian Gonzalez, running promos at its retail locations offering Fan Fest tickets and All-Star Game merchandise as giveaways and premiums, and holding retail player appearances. T-Mobile will dominate the Fan Fest entrance with a large marquee, and the mobile carrier’s customers will have a separate entrance.

Head & Shoulders has taken over several subway trains, inviting New Yorkers headed to Citi Field to “ride the whiff” from now through the end of July.
Photo by: HEAD & SHOULDERS; NYC MTA
There will be TV ads during the Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game (along with an on-air integration for Fox), a strong digital presence on MLB.com and ESPN.com, and print ads in New York papers and ESPN The Magazine.

T-Mobile will be taking over a train on the No. 7 subway, which services Citi Field, a tactic also being adopted by MLB sponsor Head & Shoulders. Joining the transit parade is Anheuser-Busch, with a “station domination” of the Citi Field/ Willets Point station on the 7 line. At Citi Field, T-Mobile will promote customer sign-ups with MLB merchandise.

MasterCard will use the Home Run Derby as a tie to Stand Up to Cancer and debut a spot with the mascots of the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets. Anheuser-Busch is producing All-Star Game cans for the New York market and sponsoring an on-field musical performance prior to the Home Run Derby. Bank of America will debut a baseball-themed ad and is supporting veterans with an “Express Your Thanks” program. Bayer is supporting its Bayer Advanced Aspirin, One-A-Day and Alka-Seltzer brands at Fan Fest, with a fielding practice activity and sampling.

Duane Reade, Time Warner Cable and the Hospital for Special Surgery have signed as local sponsors of all All-Star Game events.

On the merchandise side, VF’s Majestic brand is launching batting practice jerseys with new fabrication, which makes the jerseys thinner and provides better moisture management. The jerseys will be worn for the Home Run Derby and All-Star Game batting practice. The entire league will switch to those jerseys next season.

VF Licensed Sports Group President Jim Pisani said Majestic will offer more than 35 All-Star Game T-shirt designs.

Modell’s is the All-Star Game’s official retailer and will brand the 14,000-square-foot store, MLB’s largest ever, at Fan Fest and offer Fan Fest tickets as a gift with purchase at its own stores. Modell’s also will sell All-Star Game merchandise and a commemorative T-shirt at the Central Park concert, and in a tent outside of Citi Field.

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