HOST MARRIOTT BECOMES NCAA PARTNER THROUGH AMEX UNDERWRITING
Host Marriott is "close to signing as official sponsor
of the NCAA, a million-dollar a year deal that's actually
being paid" for by fellow NCAA sponsor AmEx, according to
Terry Lefton of BRANDWEEK. AmEx is using dollars "earmarked
for co-op marketing to underwrite the first year" of the
deal, but with AmEx's NCAA deal in its final year "it is
unclear whether Marriott's affiliation will last beyond the
first year." Lefton's sources say the "real value" for Host
Marriott will be "trying to tie in all their properties from
Ritz Carlton to Fairfield Inns for teams that travel by bus."
Marriott's in-house event group will also run the NCAA's
Final Four Fan Fest. One AmEx agency source told Lefton that
"renewing [its own NCAA deal] is a low priority on their
shopping list" (BRANDWEEK, 9/8 issue).