The Red Sox and New Balance have agreed to a multiyear partnership that recognizes New Balance as the official footwear and apparel sponsor of the team. New Balance has unveiled an illuminated sign featuring the company's signature red logo atop the new HD videoboards in Fenway Park's right field. Per the deal, New Balance will provide footwear and apparel to all fan-facing employees at Fenway Park, and will serve as the presenting sponsor of the Red Sox Baseball Academy, the team's official summer camp. The agreement includes in-park branding at Fenway Park and the team's Spring Training facility, JetBlue Park in Lee County, Fla. New Balance also has agreements with several members of the team, including manager Terry Francona, 2B Dustin Pedroia and 3B Kevin Youkilis (New Balance). Red Sox President & CEO Larry Lucchino at the announcement of the deal yesterday said, "I, for one, have discarded all my Reebok shoes and have been very pleased with the result." In Boston, Thomas Grillo notes the 70-foot-wide illuminated New Balance sign at Fenway Park is "designed to display a flashing 'We won' message to highlight Red Sox victories to fans." Lucchino: "It's the newest and coolest sign in Fenway Park. You'd be hard-pressed not to notice it" (BOSTON HERALD, 4/5).
Marketing and Sponsorship
PGA Tour Bob Hope Classic President John Foster yesterday indicated that a Golfweek.com report that Humana had signed as the event's new title sponsor and that the the tournament "would change its four-course, five-day format as soon as next January is premature,” according to Larry Bohannan of the Palm Springs DESERT SUN. Foster said, “That report is premature and what I have seen so far is not totally accurate.” The report also stated that the tournament “will abandon the format it has used since the event debuted in 1960, using four courses over five days.” A source yesterday said that “at least some of the details in the report could be officially announced in the coming week if not sooner.” Some of those details “could include the deal with Humana, which already worked as the official health care provider for PGA Tour employees” since ‘05. The Hope “was known to be looking for a five- to seven-year commitment from a new sponsor” after title sponsor Chrysler left the event in '09 "after filing for bankruptcy and accepting federal bailout money.” The Hope “went on without a sponsor in 2010 and again in January.” Foster has indicated that the event “would be played again in 2012 even without a sponsor.” Bohannan notes the PGA Tour during this year's event announced that it was "in discussions with the Clinton Foundation, headed by former President Bill Clinton, that would align the Hope with the Clinton Global Initiative.” Foster confirmed that “the talks with the Clinton group are ongoing, but again said nothing has been finalized” (Palm Springs DESERT SUN, 4/5).
THE INITIAL REPORT: GOLFWEEK’s Alex Miceli cited a source as saying that Humana “will be the title sponsor" of the Hope beginning next year. Humana will sign a "seven-year commitment," and the tournament will "move to network television." The Hope has tried to fill the void of Chrysler's title sponsorship by putting together a "patchwork group of non-title sponsors to bridge the $1.9 million that tournament organizers need to contribute to the purse and the $1 million that covers the TV obligation.” The TV obligation “will escalate" with the move to network TV and the "exposure to the event is expected to grow, as well.” Miceli reported the new sponsorship with Humana would include the Clinton Foundation as “part of the Hope’s charitable recipients” (GOLFWEEK.com, 4/4).
The NHLPA has announced five-year apparel agreements, highlighted by the continuation of its partnership with Reebok. The union is expanding its roster of apparel licensees to include Old Time Hockey, Knights Apparel and Elmau & Associates. The new player apparel deal with Reebok, which starts in July, sees the company maintain exclusive rights to produce replica jerseys and T-shirts. Reebok will also have non-exclusive rights to produce all other apparel featuring NHL players together with their team logos (NHLPA). The NHLPA said that the total value of the four partnerships is "in the high seven-figure range." NHLPA Dir of Licensing & Associate Counsel Adam Larry said, "The licensees we are bringing on board are looking at creative ways to use the personality rights to create new types of product.” SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Fred Dreier notes the "shift also opens up new retail opportunities for player-branded product with mass-merchant retailers." Reebok’s NHL apparel is "carried by Dick’s Sporting Goods, Modell’s, NHL.com and the NHL store in the United States, and Sports Chek, Pro Hockey Life and Jersey City in Canada." Knights Apparel "will sell its player-branded goods in Wal-Mart, Target, Meijer, K-Mart, Costco and Sam’s Club stores, and Sogo is carried by Canadian retailers Rona and Canadian Tire as well as Wal-Mart" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 4/4 issue).
Maryland Jockey Club President & COO Tom Chuckas said that Preakness Stakes weekend is the "most important component of the organization’s bottom line and that the controversial 'Kegasus' campaign is part of an effort to make the event a success," according to Ron Mitchell of BLOODHORSE.com. Chuckas: "Preakness weekend is the most significant and major component to the bottom line of the Maryland Jockey Club. On a two-fold premise, with premise 'A' being the financial responsibility I have, it is imperative that the infield is filled with people who are out there to enjoy themselves, but it is a bottom line issue. We need people in the infield to help our bottom line." Chuckas said that the campaign "cost less than $400,000," and added that the Kegasus promotion is "only one of several that will be undertaken to advertise different aspects of the Preakness experience." Chuckas: "Kegasus’ goal is to promote a party. We view it as the 'peoples' party.' There is a lot of entertainment value in the infield. That demographic is between (the ages of) 21 and 35 or 40. Kegasus is targeted specifically for the infield fest" (BLOODHORSE.com, 4/1).
THE RIGHT MOVE? In Baltimore, Scott Graham writes, "I just want to know who at the Jockey Club thought it was a good idea to let this centaur out of Greek mythology. The Jockey Club recently told Maryland lawmakers during an appeal for more state funding that it lost millions of dollars in 2008 and 2009. But should it try to make up the difference by pursuing more beer sales?" Graham adds, "I understand how the promotions/ticket sales business works, and I enjoy tossing back a few as much as the next guy. But there’s just something about Lord of the InfieldFest and the Sport of Kings that just doesn’t jive to me. One is steeped in tradition -- the other in Budweiser" (BALTIMORE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 4/1 issue). ESPN's Jackie MacMullan said, "I thought this was like a 'Saturday Night Live' skit or something. I didn't know enough about the Preakness. ... To be honest with you, if I thought about going to the Preakness, I'm never going now" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 4/4).
In Charlotte, Erik Spanberg notes the Bobcats have "spent much of the past year discussing a new deal with Budweiser, the team’s beer sponsor since the franchise arrived” in ’04. Bud is “among several top-level sponsors spending $1 million or more with the Bobcats, but the current deal expires after this season.” It is “complicated for the Bobcats by two other factors: Bud parent InBev has been paying less for sports deals in recent months, and the NBA could miss part or all of next season as negotiations drag on” for a new CBA (CHARLOTTE BUSINESS JOURNAL, 4/1 issue).
Children's Hospital L.A.
KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES: Jones Soda and K2 Sports today announced a partnership to pursue snow-inspired initiatives. As part of the deal, K2 will integrate the Jones brand throughout its marketing initiatives and create Jones Soda skis and snowboards. The two-year partnership begins this month and will involve cross-brand presence through digital marketing, appearances at snow sports events, demo centers, movie premieres and retail displays. The deal allows Jones to develop cross-branded merchandise to use as incentives and prizing (Jones Soda/2K Sports).
MAXIM-IZING THEIR EXPOSURE: AD AGE’s Rich Thomaselli noted Maxim “will be hosting its invite-only bash” at The Masters and the Kentucky Derby. Maxim Chief Revenue Officer Ben Madden said, “We've had so much success around the Maxim Super Bowl party -- even when the economy was diving, the demand from marketers and high-end consumers never abated." Partners for The Masters party “include Lamborghini, Michelob Ultra beer, KRU82 Vodka and Odyssey Golf.” Madden is “still negotiating with sponsors for the Derby” (ADAGE.com, 4/1).