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Volume 25 No. 28
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          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).