SBJ/Dec. 9-15, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

SME-IMG joint venture to work on positioning for ‘new’ ACC

Terry Lefton
As part of the continuing, seismic collegiate conference reshuffling, the Atlantic Coast Conference is transforming to include schools in such diverse locations as Syracuse, N.Y.; South Bend, Ind.; and Louisville, Ky. Consequently, the 60-year-old conference is looking to redefine itself. Accordingly, it has brought on New York City branding agency SME to work on a new identity and positioning for the ACC.

“Our thought was that if we don’t do this now, when would we do it?” said Tim Lynde, the ACC’s senior associate commissioner for brand marketing.

Photo by: ICON SMI
The assignment is to interview more than 150 constituents, including ACC school presidents, athletic directors, student athletes, fans, faculty members and business partners, and produce a positioning paper by the end of the first quarter of 2014. Lynde said that the positioning exercise also could lead to the development of a new logo to match the new identity.

The ACC assignment is the first big victory secured for the joint venture between SME and IMG that was signed in May. The repositioning
The project involves talking to constituents, including students and fans.
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
work expands an SME-ACC relationship, which included work on the conference’s broadcast tune-in campaign.

Cory Moss, senior vice president and managing director of IMG’s Collegiate Licensing Co., said the strategy is to mine IMG College’s large client base for more business by adding a marketing capability that has been absent. CLC has been the licensing agency for the ACC itself, and most of its member schools, for years.

“The idea is to combine our experience and marketplace presence in college with SME’s expertise in branding,” Moss said. “There’s just a huge opportunity there, both in sports and university-wide.”

SME partner and Chief Creative Officer Ed O’Hara noted that the top 100 Division I schools spend more than $600 million annually, with marketing for the academic side of their institutions themselves dwarfing athletic spending by three to four times.

“For the ACC, this is just a great opportunity to stand up and say, ‘Here’s what we stand for,’” O’Hara said. “As far as the [joint venture], there’s a huge market for development campaigns, reaching alumni and prospective students that’s just a huge opportunity.”

> ICE-POWERED LAUNCH: Sponsorship 101 says targeting is the reason sponsorship trumps a general media buy for everything but products with broad sales targets, like soda, beer or autos. When you are trying to build awareness for the first over-the-counter bladder-control product, it is even more critical.

Accordingly, Merck’s recently launched Oxytrol for Women, an over-the-counter patch medication aimed at women over 50, is title-sponsoring a four-part skating series that will be broadcast during four two-hour shows on NBC. In addition to four spots, billboards in the show and signage on the ice “stage,” Oxytrol gets four taped vignettes with skaters Naomi Lang, Kimmie Meissner, Linda Fratianne and Marissa Castelli and their mothers, supporting the product launch.

Disson Sports and Entertainment handles and is producing the shows at the Pegula Ice Arena in University Park, Pa.; Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville; the Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J.; and the Jamestown Savings Bank Arena in Jamestown, N.Y. The taped shows will be broadcast on various Sunday afternoons on NBC.

Initiative Media handled for Merck.

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

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