BRANDWEEK HONORS WNBA'S ACKERMAN AND WELTS AS TOP MARKETERS
WNBA President Val Ackerman and NBA CMO Rick Welts,
BRANDWEEK's '97 Grand Marketers of the Year, are profiled by
Terry Lefton in the annual SUPERBRANDS issue. Lefton: "All
of what is wrong with major pro sports in America was right
with the WNBA." Ackerman: "We did a pretty good job of
getting people to try the product. But as far as what
brought them back again, I think it was the intimacy of the
players' relationships with fans." Lefton credits the
WNBA's "We Got Next" promo campaign's media strategy, which
received exposure on NBA courtside signage from March
through the end of the season in June, along with "at least"
one WNBA spot on NBC & TNT telecasts. Welts: "The campaign
was on target and we got it to a very basketball-friendly
audience through our playoffs. Just the way NBC always
positions their hot new sitcom after 'Seinfeld,' we'll
always have the finals as a lead in to create awareness."
PARTNERS: Ackerman and Welts receive credit for signing
partnerships with "some of the biggest sports marketers on
the planet" -- A-B, GM, Nike, Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Sears -
- who all signed three-year deals. For A-B, it saw the WNBA
as a way to reach women consumers and "a possible first step
to wrestling the NBA beer category" from Miller. The
league's marketing packages were also "almost ambush-proof,"
with "top-to-bottom category rights, exclusivity on national
and local TV broadcasts, first rights and a chance to
purchase local radio, rotational signage and protection from
competing brands with courtside and camera-visible arena
signage." Lefton: "Combining a sport that was uncluttered
to start, with a comprehensive protection package and
national TV, produced a property that was a magnate for top
sports sponsors" (Terry Lefton, SUPERBRANDS, 10/20).