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Volume 24 No. 112

Marketing and Sponsorship

Bank of America, an MLB corporate sponsor since ‘04, is adopting a decidedly grassroots approach to the early season activation of its baseball rights. BofA Senior VP/Global Sponsorship Marketing Charles Greenstein said the bank is using MLB-themed marketing to thank the bank’s customers. Beginning on Opening Day and continuing over the first half of the season in Boston, Chicago, L.A., N.Y. and S.F., five markets where BofA has large MLB team deals, the bank has assembled players from the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, Dodgers and Giants who will distribute free tickets and autographed items. Street teams in high-traffic areas in those cities will also offer a month of free text alerts from Outside MLB venues, staffers at BofA temporary kiosks will give away snacks and coupons good for discounts on concessions or game tickets. More than 250 local activations in five major markets are planned over the next three months. Octagon is BofA’s sponsorship agency. Greenstein said the marketing campaign for the "Official Bank of MLB" is under the aegis of a companywide emphasis on being big and local simultaneously. "We’re big, and part of this is to make us more local, relevant and meaningful, and reconnect with Main Street by doing something they wouldn’t expect," he said. "That’s something we are trying to do with our entire sponsorship portfolio." The campaign will be supported by print, radio, out-of-home ads, stadium signage and POS advertising at banks. Greenstein said BofA will continue to buy airtime with MLB rightsholders; though the ads will not be baseball-themed, they will be tagged.

United Airlines is using MLB's Opening Day to "launch its post-merger brand in four big-city markets where the carrier operates airport hubs," according to Johnsson & Sachdev of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. The airline yesterday unveiled new sponsorship deals with the Cubs and Dodgers that "will make United's new globe logo, adopted following its 2010 merger with Continental Airlines, highly visible at Wrigley Field and Dodger Stadium." The logo also "will replace familiar United or Continental brands in other ballparks where the Chicago-based airline has sponsorship deals" -- Minute Maid Park, Progressive Field and the United Scout Seats behind home plate at U.S. Cellular Field. But the brand "will be most visible at Wrigley, where United has purchased rights to a prominent rooftop behind the left-center-field bleachers and struck a three-year deal that makes United the team's exclusive airline sponsor." The "bright blue roof proclaims that United is 'proud to fly the Cubs.'" While the Cubs "have been at odds with rooftop owners over the years, team officials helped land a separate agreement between the airline and the owners of the apartment building" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 3/29). Also as part of United's deal with the Cubs, the team will rebrand Wrigley Field's stadium club as the United Club. United's deal with the Dodgers designates the company as the team's official airline and makes it the first entitlement partner of the Dodgers club suites and suite concourse (THE DAILY).   

Century 21 said that it is "going back on the air -- and in a big way, with a 2012 Super Bowl ad and sponsorship of a pregame show on NBC," according to E.J. Schultz of AD AGE. The 30-second ad -- the marketer's “first Super Bowl appearance -- will air in the third quarter and comes as part of a larger global rebranding effort that emphasizes agents.” Century 21 CMO Beverly Thorne did not reveal specifics on the ad, but said that the company “will appear once in-game and a total of 12 times when pre- and post-game shows are added in, plus a title sponsorship of a half-hour pre-game show.” She added that the company “is protected if the season is canceled.” Schultz reported Century 21 is “the first marketer to publicly detail its Super Bowl ad plans.” NBC is asking for up to $3.5M "for a 30-second spot for the game,” and the net “has been in talks with potential advertisers since early fall.” Century 21 “pulled all national TV advertising” two years ago, and Red Tettemer & Partners Exec Creative Dir Steve O'Connell, whose Philadelphia-based company created the ad, said Century 21 decided, "If we're going to go back to TV, let's go back to TV big." Century 21's non-Super Bowl spots will begin airing next week on TLC, and “print and radio ads are also planned” (, 3/28).

The Univ. of Kentucky men's basketball team is making its first appearance in the Final Four since '98, and the "must-have for Wildcat fans is 'the locker room shirt,' as in the one University of Kentucky players were wearing" after their victory over North Carolina on Sunday, according to a front-page piece by Janet Patton of the LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER. Lexington-based Kennedy Book Store Assistant Manager Chris Lawrence noted that his store had Final Four shirts, hats and "about a dozen other items up on its Web site. ... within 15 minutes of the game ending." By 8:00am CT Monday, "there were more than 200 orders waiting to be filled." Lawrence: "It's been 13 years since we went to a Final Four, so I think people are hungry." JCS Enterprises President Larry Lambert said that sales of UK merchandise "began to pick up Saturday, after Kentucky made it to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament." Lambert: "I suspect this is going to be a big week." Meanwhile, Lexington-based Wildcat Wearhouse "began printing 5,000 shirts Sunday," and employees "worked through the night, stopping at 5 a.m. to box and load shirts into any vehicle with wheels so they could get them to stores across the state." Those shirts sold out, and an "additional 13,000 shirts, printed elsewhere, were on their way." Patton notes at that pace, sales "will top those after the 1998 national championship, when the company sold about 13,000 shirts." The sales "mean additional money for the university, which gets a 10 percent royalty off every shirt" that Wildcat Wearhouse and sister store Hands On Originals make and sell (LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER, 3/29).

UNCHARTERED WATERS: In Richmond, Kristen Green notes Barnes & Noble @ VCU Bookstore yesterday was "transformed into fan central, as students, alumni and area residents lined up to buy gold and black NCAA Final Four T-shirts." The line of fans "stretched out the building and down the block" to get their shirts commemorating VCU's first Final Four trip. More shirts are "expected to arrive today, and the bookstore expects to sell 30,000 this week." Green notes all the "T-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, travel mugs and anything that says 'VCU' went out on the floor" Sunday, so the store "started making desperate calls to vendors" (RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, 3/29). Bookstore GM Amy Randolph said, "We had fans start lining up around 10:00am, with an expected shipment arrival of 2:30. There was a flight delay of course, and our shirts didn't actually show up until about 4:30. By that time, we had 600 people lined up outside the store, around the block. ... We rang about 3,500 shirts through our registers in just a couple hours." She said the store has sold "well over 20,000 shirts" since the start of the NCAA Tournament ("First Take," ESPN2, 3/29).

SECOND TIME IS THE CHARM: Meanwhile, Butler Univ. fans "descended on the Spirit Shop at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Monday to snap up Butler hats, T-shirts, sweatshirts, jerseys and all kinds of gear." Butler's bookstore "sold out of Final Four T-shirts by Monday afternoon" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 3/29).

In London, Ian Burrell reports Procter & Gamble next weekend will “start promoting its own corporate brand for the first time in Britain, in addition to the outlay on campaigns for its 50-plus household products.” P&G Corporate Marketing Dir & Head of Marketing Roisin Donnelly said that she “expected the process to intensify ahead of the London Olympics, especially in television advertising.” The campaign, which is “linked to P&G's sponsorship of London 2012 and subsequent Olympic games up until 2020, builds on the success of a North American ‘Proud Sponsor of Moms’ campaign” that debuted at the ’10 Vancouver Games. P&G in the run up to the London Games “will run a series of separate campaigns linked to product brands.” Donnelly: "In some cases we will have individual Olympic athletes endorsing the individual brands" (London INDEPENDENT, 3/28).

HAIR CARE: Head & Shoulders yesterday launched a spot with Twins C Joe Mauer and Steelers S Troy Polamalu, and in Minneapolis, Paul Walsh wrote Mauer “throws on the towel in a mocking depiction” of Polamalu. Mauer in the ad “lifts his voice several octaves to the delight of others in the clubhouse.” The “theatrics come to an end when Polamalu catches him in the act.” Walsh notes Mauer “recently added a commercial touting tourism in Minnesota in which he solos through a couple of lines in a song.” He also “has done ads for Kemps dairy products, Minneapolis-based Anytime Fitness” and Sony’s “MLB: The Show” franchise (, 3/28).

TRAVEL WITH STYLE: The US Ski & Snowboard Association signed an eight-year extension with its official baggage partner, High Sierra. The deal will see High Sierra continue to supply USSA with customized backpacks, boot bags, ski and snowboard bags, duffel bags, hydration packs and other luggage and equipment through '19. Terms of the deal were not available. In addition to getting rights to US Ski, Snowboard and Freeskiing team marks, High Sierra also gets the rights to put a USSA hang tag on all of its products (Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal).

: YAHOO SPORTS’ Jay Busbee noted Austin Dillon, Richard Childress’ grandson, will “make his Sprint Cup debut in a car sponsored by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation’s Centennial Celebration, as well as the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma.” Dillon will drive the No. 98 in an "as-yet-undetermined race" (, 3/28).