SBJ/June 23-29, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

MetLife and executive known for stadium deal part ways

After 12 years with the company, Beth Hirschhorn has very quietly left MetLife, where she was the company’s most senior marketer and held the title of executive vice president of global brand, marketing and communications. She also was the person most associated with the insurer’s top sports investment, the 25-year naming-rights deal at the New Jersey stadium that the New York Jets and Giants call home.

Perhaps even more intriguing is that according to her employment termination agreement, a copy of which was obtained here, Hirschhorn was paid $1.25 million to leave MetLife, of which her attorneys were reimbursed to the tune of $150,000. The agreement was the result of private mediation, but the specific nature of the dispute is unclear and unspecified in the agreement.

Beth Hirschhorn with former Giant Amani Toomer and former Jet Vinny Testaverde in 2012
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES

Aside from standard nondisparagement and hold harmless clauses, the agreement also notes that Hirschhorn’s “unvested stock options and unvested restricted stock units are cancelled and forfeited.” Hirschhorn’s last day of employment was April 23, but she lost access to company voicemail and email March 28.

We’re told that Richard Hong, MetLife vice president of global brand and marketing, is now the company’s de facto chief marketing officer.

> TERRY TOONS: Fox analyst and Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw has signed a multiyear deal with pharmaceutical giant Merck as spokesman for an awareness campaign about shingles, a disease from which he once suffered. Television ads under the supervision of creative agency Publicis Kaplan Thaler are being shot this week at Bradshaw’s Oklahoma ranch. The ads should break around the start of the NFL season and the campaign also will include print and digital efforts. Since Bradshaw signed with IMG for talent representation and marketing endorsements a year ago, he has added endorsements with NFL corporate sponsors Pepsi and Verizon.

> TALKING ’BOUT PRACTICE: Naming rights for the Philadelphia 76ers’ as-yet-unbuilt 120,000-square-foot team headquarters and practice facility on Camden, N.J.’s waterfront are on the street with a low-seven-figure asking price. Signage on the facility will be visible from the heavily trafficked Ben Franklin Bridge, which links Camden and Philadelphia, and from the Philadelphia waterfront.

The team, which has been practicing at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine’s gym for some time, hopes to move into the new facility in 2016. The team has an option on adjacent land to be developed for mixed use.

> NOTHING BUT NET, PART II: Hindsight isn’t always 20/20. Try as we might in our recent story on the Allstate field goal nets to determine their absolute origin (see SportsBusiness Journal, May 26-June 1, 2014), we stand corrected courtesy of former NHL executive Ken Yaffe, who tells us that when he was at the Arena Football League, he helped execute a deal in 1987 with quick-service restaurant Hardee’s for the league’s first Arena-Bowl championship game. As part of the deal, Hardee’s had — you guessed it — branded field goal nets at each end of the Pittsburgh Civic Arena for the game between the Pittsburgh Gladiators and Denver Dynamite. For the record, it was the only outdoor ArenaBowl, since the now defunct arena opened its retractable roof for the game.

The NFL’s branded nets at the Super Bowl and Pro Bowl weren’t seen until 2002.

> COMINGS & GOINGS: Longtime Reebok/Adidas marketer David Baxter, who headed the sports licensed and sports performance divisions over his 16 years there, has left the company. … Mark Foxton joins Levi’s as director of sports marketing and will try to connect the company’s big title sponsorship investment at the new San Francisco 49ers stadium with apparel. It’s a bit of a homecoming for Foxton, since he was director of corporate partnerships for the 49ers from 2001 to 2005. Since then, Foxton also has worked for Live Nation, the NBA’s team marketing and business operations division, MSG and MLS.

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

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