SBJ/March 17-23, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

NFL expands sponsor inventory that teams may sell to casinos

A few years back, when the NFL loosened restrictions on teams selling advertising to casinos within their home markets, teams delighted at the prospect of a sales windfall. However, the league permitted teams to sell casinos only upper-bowl advertising signage.

So despite the clear and consistent connection between gambling and pro football, the expected stream of new riches never developed.

Now the league is easing the rules even further.

Teams were notified this month by email that they could now sell casinos a variety of sponsorship inventory — including lower-bowl signage and naming rights to in-stadium real estate like club areas. In addition, print, radio and digital advertising inventory is now available to sell — but curiously, local TV advertising was not specified.

“Co-mingling,” or using team and casino logos together to market, remains verboten, as does having a team-produced TV or radio show originating from a casino. Teams are also forbidden from marketing with casinos that have sports books.

Nonetheless, club marketers were happy with the opportunity to more aggressively attack an industry that spends money with other teams and leagues more freely.

For example, Partypoker.com’s deal with the Philadelphia 76ers gets it “apron” signage at the Wells Fargo Center, the team’s home court.

According to the American Gaming Association, the licensed commercial casino industry encompasses 513 casinos in 23 states, with 34 percent of the U.S. population visiting at least one casino last year.

“You look at how much that [casino] industry has grown — so operating with new rules should mean a lot for us,” said Kevin Rochlitz, Baltimore Ravens vice president of national sales.

Still unclear is how far teams can go with co-marketing efforts, which is particularly intriguing, since casinos are among the best loyalty marketers and users of big data and analytics in the country.

In most markets, NFL tickets are scarce. Could casinos use them as purchase incentives or loyalty rewards? Stay tuned, as it appears the dice are still rolling on that issue.

> LORD STANLEY’S BEER MUG: MillerCoors’ initial support of the NHL playoffs will include themed packaging across millions of bottles and cans of Molson Canadian. The playoff commemorative “bottle back” labeling celebrates each of the 22 NHL franchises that have won Stanley Cup championships.
 
The Stanley Cup commemorative program will be featured on all primary packaging and all 24- and 30-pack packaging.

The program will be supported with Stanley Cup-themed on- and off-premise point-of-sale advertising, social media and advertising on NHL.com.

The program is national, with concentrations in the Northeast and Great Lakes regions.

> COMINGS & GOINGS: Dany Berghoff joins The Paley Center in New York City (it was formerly known as the Museum of Television and Radio) as vice president of sponsorships and partnerships. Berghoff spent the past six years with 21 Marketing, Greenwich, Conn., where he served as vice president of business development.

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

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