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Volume 24 No. 154

Marketing and Sponsorship

Sutton calls UPS deal the
largest in college sports
IMG College President Ben Sutton yesterday said UPS' new sponsorship deal with about 70 colleges and several conferences is the "largest college sports sponsorship deal in history," according to Richard Craver of the WINSTON-SALEM JOURNAL. Sutton, who was CEO of ISP Sports when IMG Worldwide acquired it last summer, said, "It's hard to understate how important this is for IMG. This agreement, and the ones like it to follow, really validates the merger because it enabled IMG College to create a national marketing sale outside network TV." IMG Sports & Entertainment President George Pyne said the IMG program enables "blue-chip brands like UPS to reach the largest and most affluent fan base in sports." IMG College VP/Strategic Communications Andrew Giangola said that the UPS partnership "will debut immediately at 'select schools,' with a full rollout of all universities by Jan. 1." Craver notes UPS becomes the "official logistics, package-delivery and retail-business-services provider in all forms of sponsor recognition." The agreement allows the company to "make use of the college sponsorships in its UPS retail stores." Sutton said that "recent controversies involving several Division I football programs did not affect UPS' sponsorship decision." UPS yesterday announced separately a "four-year sponsorship agreement with the Big Ten Conference and a two-year agreement with the Pac-12 Conference," adding to existing deals with the NCAA and the SEC. Sutton indicated that IMG College "expects to make similar corporate sponsorship announcements in the near term" (WINSTON-SALEM JOURNAL, 8/30).

ENROLLING IN COLLEGE: Pyne appeared on Bloomberg TV yesterday to discuss the UPS sponsorship and said, "It’s a big deal because we have made a significant investment in college sports, and the idea behind this was to go to corporations and offer them a product in 49 of the top 50 markets in the Americas with one buy. That’s what's unique, that’s what's different and, frankly, transformational.” The deal “allows the colleges now to get up there" with the major pro sports. Pyne: “For the colleges, it’s great. For the advertisers, it’s a very efficient, one-time buy at a value that can’t be matched anywhere in sports.” Bloomberg's Michele Steele noted it has been a "bad PR year for college football” and asked why companies now should “get into college sports.” Pyne replied college sports fans are a “very compelling demographic." Pyne: "There are 300 Division I schools, and from time to time there’s unfortunate things that happen. But the vast good outweighs any negative.” Pyne added, “As an industry, the value that you get in college sports and the cost for entry is very favorable for an advertiser in comparison to other things in professional sports. That rich demographic and then the size and scale are unmatched” (“Bloomberg Bottom Line With Mark Crumpton,” Bloomberg TV, 8/29).

ORANGE CRUSH: IMG College announced that since the Univ. of Tennessee began using its Ticket Solutions program on July 1, the school has realized more than $1M in season ticket sales this summer. The sales milestone reached this week is the equivalent of more than 2,000 season tickets to UT college football. The ticket department has also sold more than 5,000 group football tickets as well as men’s and women’s basketball season tickets (IMG College).

USAA earlier this month signed a "four-year deal as the NFL's new insurance sponsor," according to Terry Lefton in this week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. USAA, a "relatively unknown brand in the hypercompetitive insurance market," sells insurance and "other financial service products to military, retired military and their families." The company "hopes to use the power of the NFL to celebrate and commemorate military service and differentiate itself within the insurance market." As such, USAA secured the designation as the NFL's "official military appreciation sponsor." USAA Exec Dir of Marketing Don Clark said, "USAA is a different kind of company. It is all about combining America's passions for football and the armed services." Lefton notes USAA "sees the NFL as a way to cut through the noise in what has become a category notable for its increasing marketing clutter." Clark: "It's a noisy (insurance) market, but we like this opportunity to show our eligible universe of 60 million consumers what kind of company we are." IMG, USAA's sports agency of record, "handled the negotiations and will implement activation." Activation will center on "military service appreciation and will see USAA advertise on NFL games with NFL-themed ads." USAA is developing an awards program that will recognize those in communities "doing the most to honor and thank the military." Deals with the Chargers and the Redskins, both located in cities that are "military strongholds," have been completed to "support the league sponsorship" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 8/29 issue).

Stewart-Haas Racing co-Owner Tony Stewart last week signed Danica Patrick to a deal that will have her competing in 8-10 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events for his team next year, and Stewart now is "looking for another driver to run some more races for the organization's new third team," according to Bob Pockrass of Stewart "would like to find another driver and sponsor to fill the rest of the 36-race schedule for the new team." He said, "If we can put together a package to run somebody in the rest of the races, we would love to do that. It's in everybody's best interest to do that and I know it would be good for us as a team to run that car full time next year if that opportunity presents itself" (, 8/26).'s David Newton said Stewart is "looking for a driver to finish out" Patrick's Cup schedule and a "sponsor so they can keep that car in the top-35 for the remainder of the season." Newton: "That's very important for Danica to guarantee she's in those races so she will have time to learn in the Cup series. It's also important for sponsor Go Daddy because they want to be in each one of these races" ("NASCAR Now," ESPN2, 8/27). But ESPN's Rusty Wallace said Stewart-Haas fielding a third Cup entry "has me a little bit concerned." Wallace: "What I'm wondering is, 'Hey Stewart-Haas, you're struggling right now.' Tony Stewart is right there at the very end of maybe getting out of this Chase, and not making it. ... With the car struggling and they've already got two teams, it makes me wonder what in the world they were thinking with the third team." He added, "I realize it is extra money, but a lot of times the money doesn't make the car go faster" ("NASCAR Countdown," ESPN2, 8/27).

DON'T HATE THE PLAYER: The AP's Jenna Fryer noted no one "gets a job driving race cars at the top level without sponsorship, and those who successfully find a corporate partner will always get the rides." Patrick and her marketing team "have mastered the auto racing business model, creating a lucrative and long-term relationship with" Patrick has "done a remarkable job of building her brand, and with it comes a public interest that reaches far beyond the diehard race fan." Fryer: "Maybe that's unfair to the Justin Allgaiers of the world, the kind of drivers who fight and claw for a shot and consistently fall short of that one big break because of a lack of sponsorship. ... But it's the system that's the problem, not Patrick. She played it perfectly" (AP, 8/29).

SHAKING THINGS UP:'s Newton noted although driver Clint Bowyer "hopes to return to Richard Childress Racing" in '12, he is "weighing offers from other teams," including Richard Petty Motorsports. RPM Majority Owner Andrew Murstein Saturday indicated that Bowyer "has an offer to drive a third car next year." Murstein added, "We've been thinking about a third team for the last sixth months or so, and we're close to doing something. I don't know if it will be Clint." RCR Owner Richard Childress said that he "still expects things to work out with Bowyer." For his part, Bowyer has said he "hopes" to return to RCR (, 8/27). Sponsorship "appears to be one of the hang-ups in Bowyer getting any deals done, but it's widely believed that Bowyer has personally secured enough money for at least 20 races from 5-Hour Energy" (AP, 8/27). Meanwhile, Penske Racing Owner Roger Penske said Saturday that he "hopes to field two full-time Nationwide programs in 2012," including one for Sam Hornish Jr." (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 8/28).

Fox Business' Cheryl Casone was at the first day of the U.S. Open yesterday and spoke to several sponsors about their association with the tournament. USTA Chair Jon Vegosen said relationships with the event’s sponsors are “going very well.” Vegosen: “We’ve had these sponsors for many years. We have a very strong relationship with them. They know the value that the Open brings.” Casone noted if fans “walk around the grounds here at the Billie Jean King Tennis Center,” the AmEx brand “is everywhere.” AmEx VP/Global Sponsorships Alexander Chang said AmEx has been a U.S. Open sponsor for 18 years and “this year is our biggest event to date.” The company is sponsoring the American Express Fan Experience, and it was scheduled to be "running first thing" this morning after it was deconstructed in preperation for Hurricane Irene. IBM is utilizing its Pointstream app during the tournament, and IBM VP/Sports Technology Rick Singer said, "We took a look at the last five years of Grand Slam matches and we looked at players when they play each other, so it’s not just that player." Singer: "It’s that player when he plays that opponent. We got -- believe it or not -- 39 million data points, and we took a close look at that." He added the company "worked with our business analytics team ... and what we did was use the same software to figure out what are the three most important things for that player to accomplish in order to increase their chances of winning? And that's what you see with ‘Keys to the Match’" (Fox Business, 8/29).

MAKING A RACQUET: Wilson Racquets GM Jon Muir sat with Casone and said the company is "looking at different ways we can offer a product as a point of difference" from Nike and adidas, as well as "how we're positioning the brand." Muir: "One of our greatest strengths overall is our sales and distribution. We're the No. 1 equipment brand ... in tennis. Very strong there, but we've got to innovate on the apparel side, and we see an opportunity.” Muir noted Wilson has been "fortunate to be engaged with some of the top players." However, the "top 10 selling racquets in the U.S ... will correlate to the top players." Muir: "You will see where you get the avid consumer is really following what they're playing with, and a lot of our retailers are aware of that and recommending that to the consumer.” He said Wilson is “an American brand,” but the “majority of our business is actually outside the U.S." Muir: "Tennis is one of the true global sports, and if you look at our position in Europe as well as in Asia, we're the No. 1 brand on the equipment side, so we really feel like we're reaching consumers everywhere, and we’ve really focused on building the infrastructure” (Fox Business, 8/29).

MISSING THEIR STAR TURNS:’s Jon Wertheim wrote “no tournament mints stars quite like the U.S. Open does.” A win by Ryan Harrison yesterday would have added “more wattage to Harrison's star power,” but he “ended up losing” to Marin Cilic. Meanwhile, Petra Kvitova may have won Wimbledon, but a "strong showing” at the U.S. Open “would really consolidate her star power.” She “unfortunately … let the opportunity slip by,” marking the "first time a defending Wimbledon female champion has ever lost in the first round of the U.S. Open.” Yet it “scarcely caused a ripple,” perhaps because Kvitova “still lacks star power.” Wertheim wrote to Maria Sharapova's “delight, and also that of her sponsors, agents, the networks, and the tournament itself, Sharapova moved on” after needing three set to defeat Heather Watson in the first round yesterday (, 8/29).

LITTLE BLACK DRESS: YAHOO SPORTS’ Chris Chase noted Venus Williams yesterday wore a “little black dress with a baby doll silhouette: modern enough to look fashion forward, traditional enough to fit in well on the tennis court.” The “sheer fabric really popped underneath the lights at Arthur Ashe Stadium” (, 8/29). ESPN’s Chris Fowler prior to Williams' match said, “Always an eye on the fashions of Venus. A year ago, she wore that extremely brief pink number she said that was inspired by fireworks. A much different mood here.” ESPN's Mary Joe Fernandez agreed, noting there is a "little lace on the back.” Fowler: “Subdued?” Fernandez: “I think I like this a little bit better. Not as flashy” ("U.S. Open,” ESPN2, 8/29).

This year's sale of game-used Bruins equipment "could turn into a mad dash for collector's items," thanks to the team's Stanley Cup victory, according to Donna Goodison of the BOSTON HERALD. The Sept. 10 event at Pure Hockey's store in Braintree, Mass., "will include player-worn practice and game-used equipment from the 2010-11 championship season, including skates, helmets, gloves, sticks, locker nameplates and possibly practice jerseys." This is the "first year that Pure Hockey is hosting the sale, which previously was held" at the TD Garden pro shop. Pure Hockey VP/Marketing & E-commerce Jeff Copetas: "We’re doing a pretty major marketing push -- both national and local -- starting in October, so it was logical ... to call the Bruins and see what opportunities would exist." In addition to Boston-area TV commercials and national ad buys, Pure Hockey will "sponsor videos of Bruins players talking about their gear that will run on the Garden’s center-ice video scoreboard" (BOSTON HERALD, 8/29).

MARKETING magazine's John Reynolds reports Best Buy is "making its first foray into UK sports sponsorship by becoming the official technology partner" of EPL club Everton. Best Buy opened its first U.K. store in '10, and the Everton sponsorship "comes as it bids to establish a greater resonance in the eyes of UK customers" The deal is the "first time that Everton has partnered with an official technology partner" (, 8/30). The club also has signed a deal with Halewood International's Crabbie's brand, with Crabbie's Alcoholic Ginger Beer becoming Everton's official ginger beer (, 8/30).

STEPPING INTO THE OCTAGON: ADWEEK's Anthony Crupi reports in the run-up to UFC's first network TV broadcast on Nov. 12, media buyers believe that the "demand for Fox' new sports property should be fast and furious." A national TV buyer said that he "wouldn’t be at all surprised to see more mainstream brands begin to line up for MMA events." Fox Sports Media Group Chair David Hill said, "We did a lot of research before making this deal. There might be a few companies that have a ‘Do Not Buy’ on the UFC, but there are a hell of a lot of companies that have a ‘Do Buy.’ If you look at the history of the Fox sports media group and what we do, we didn’t go into this with our fingers crossed" (, 8/30).

THE WHOLE KIT AND KABOODLE: In Dallas, Candace Carlisle reports a jersey sponsorship for MLS FC Dallas is the only thing holding team President & CEO Doug Quinn "back from accomplishing everything he'd set out to do during his first year" with the club. Quinn: "I wish we had the (jersey) deal done, but it's only a matter of time." He said that FC Dallas' kit sponsorship is "valued at $3.2 million per year." Officials indicated that there was "one North Texas company close to signing a jersey sponsorship agreement earlier this year, but an abrupt change in leadership stalled discussions." Quinn said that since then, there "have been other companies eyeing the sponsorship" (DALLAS BUSINESS JOURNAL, 8/26 issue).