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Volume 24 No. 117

Marketing and Sponsorship

Milwaukee-based Northwestern Mutual has “brokered a deal through CBS Sports and Turner Sports to become an official corporate partner of the NCAA, representing the life insurance, wealth management and retirement-planning services categories,” according to Anthony Crupi of AD WEEK. The company replaces The Hartford in the category, and the new agreement “extends through the end of 2014.” The deal “provides exclusive marketing and promotional rights in the three relevant categories, as well as usage of all NCAA-approved trademarks and logos.” Financial terms were not disclosed, but the average corporate partner “invests around $7.5 million per year for the rights to team up with the NCAA” (, 1/6). In Milwaukee, Paul Gores reports Northwestern Mutual's new ad campaign supporting the sponsorship “will be unveiled during this year's men's Division I NCAA basketball tournament, kicking off the first national sports marketing sponsorship in company history.” Northwestern Mutual said that while 60-second commercials during the tournament “will be the highest profile part of the campaign,” the deal also will “allow it to build its brand amid nearly 90 other championships in various collegiate sports.” Northwestern Mutual VP/Marketing Conrad York said that the company “will have a big presence this year at the national Women's Softball Championship in Oklahoma City, the Women's Volleyball Championship in Louisville and the College World Series in Omaha.” Gores notes marketing will be “in various formats besides TV, including digital, print and social media.” Northwestern Mutual said that it also “will team up with athletic departments on college campuses and host career recruitment events and coaching clinics” (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 1/6).

In what may be the most logical union ever struck between a sports property and a brand, the Professional Bull Riders and Pabst Blue Ribbon today will announce a three-year agreement making PBR the official beer of the PBR. The circuit will unveil its new sponsor Friday night at the Madison Square Garden Invitational in N.Y., releasing bulls from beneath a 10-foot tall replica of a PBR Tall Boy can. The brewery also will sponsor a Pabst Blue Ribbon Bull Award, handed out to the top scoring bull at each stop on the 29-event Built Ford Tough Series. At eight tour stops, PBR will host an in-arena “Pabst Party Zone,” where fans who are chosen via text-to-win and other sign-up opportunities will receive backstage access, upgraded seating and rider meet-and-greets. Neither PBR would reveal specific financial terms, but a source placed its value at about $1M annually for rights and required in-market activation. “There was obviously the connection with the name,” said Pabst Brewing Co. co-Owner Daren Metropoulos. “Everybody talks to us about, 'hey, you guys ought to be involved with PBR.' What better fit?" The PBR circuit has been without a national beer sponsor since '07, when A-B opted not to renew its deal. It brought in Tecate as a sponsor at some events last year, but was not able to expand that into a national deal. However, Jorge Cornejo, Tecate’s field marketing director, moved from Tecate-parent Heineken to Pabst late last year. One of his first suggestions to the Metropoulos brothers and Pabst CMO Bryan Crowley was that they connect PBR to the PBR.

CHANGING ITS STRATEGY: Pabst had done little to foster the profile of its brands in recent years, though Metropolous and his brother, Evan, have shown a desire to change that, bringing on Will Ferrell to tout Old Milwaukee and Snoop Dogg to pitch Colt 45. “PBR and PBR is the most logical partnership in the beer business or the sports business, but we could never get anywhere with them in the past,” said PBR President & COO Sean Gleason. “The business was run without much of a vision or a marketing budget. So there wasn’t much interest in them to do anything, let alone with PBR. They’re taking a new approach under new ownership. Once they took a look at the opportunity it didn’t take long to get this done." There was one small hurdle the bull circuit had to get past. PBR does not buy traditional, national TV advertising, so there will not be Pabst spots during PBR’s events on NBC and CBS Sports. “It’s a hole, admittedly, in terms of activation dollars for media,” Gleason said. “But most of what we had with Bud Light was local and on-site activation, so it’s not a gaping hole. The (lack of) media didn’t scare us, because they don’t do it. It’s not just us. It’s not a function of budget. It’s a function of what their brand is. It’s not one that you put in someone’s face with network advertising units." Gleason added, "From a brand perspective, half the country thinks PBR stands for Pro Bull Riders and the other half thinks it’s Pabst Blue Ribbon. People are going to connect PBR and PBR, with or without a TV spot. What we don’t have in media spending will be more than offset in branding by connecting the two.” The Metropoulos brothers both pointed to a comfortable alignment between the brands. “I don’t know a whole lot of PBR fans that drink Stella Artois or Corona Light,” said Evan Metropoulos. “It resonates. ... We find the fans of the PBR to be very authentic, just like our fans.”

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, LB Clay Matthews and DT B.J. Raji on Tuesday shot some commercial scenes for State Farm “for what is expected to be a new ad that could debut as soon as this weekend,” according to Don Walker of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. State Farm Dir of Marketing Communications Tim Van Hoof said, "Our plan is to debut a new commercial featuring Aaron and either B.J. or Clay this weekend in the wild-card playoffs, in-game and pre-game. That's the plan, assuming all of the pieces fall into place." Walker reported the footage was shot in Green Bay and will be “a continuation of the story line from the first ad: the promotion of State Farm's ‘Discount Double Check’ and Rodgers' signature touchdown dance, the Championship Belt.” Van Hoff said that some of the footage “may end up on the Internet only, or through social media networks.” The ad includes the three players and “other characters, including State Farm insurance agent Mike Sollie, and actor Adrian Martinez, the goofy Cheesehead in the first ad.” Van Hoof said that State Farm was “very happy with its relationship with Rodgers.” Van Hoof: "Type in Discount Double Check on the Internet and you see all kinds of parodies. I say this a little jokingly, but when you're in the insurance business and you get to be a part of pop culture, and in a sports environment, that's a good thing for the brand. It puts us in a positive light and with a positive team." Walker noted in addition to State Farm, Rodgers has deals with Ford, Nike, Associated Bank and Prevea Health. He also had been “involved with the MACC Fund and has done a series of low-key informational ads with personal injury lawyer David Gruber” (, 1/5).

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers had the most popular jersey on from April 1-Dec. 31. Rodgers is followed on the list by Broncos QB Tim Tebow and Steelers S Troy Polamalu. Tebow's jersey has had a noticeable jump in sales during the season. He ranked 10th at the start of the season, and moved up from No. 6 in the rankings at the end of November. Seven of the top 10 players listed are QBs (THE DAILY).

1) Packers QB Aaron Rodgers 14) Bears LB Brian Urlacher
2) Broncos QB Tim Tebow 15) Ravens LB Ray Lewis
3) Steelers S Troy Polamalu 16) Jets QB Mark Sanchez
4) Saints QB Drew Brees 17) Colts QB Peyton Manning
5) Patriots QB Tom Brady 18) Raiders RB Darren McFadden
6) Packers LB Clay Matthews 19) Lions DT Ndamukong Suh
7) Eagles QB Michael Vick 20) Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger
8) Giants QB Eli Manning 21) Eagles WR DeSean Jackson
9) Cowboys QB Tony Romo 22) Jets CB Darrelle Revis
10) Cowboys WR Miles Austin 23) Patriots WR Wes Welker
11) 49ers LB Patrick Willis 24) Vikings RB Adrian Peterson
12) Cowboys WR Dez Bryant 25) Panthers QB Cam Newton
13) Cowboys TE Jason Witten    

NFL teams and their sponsors are ramping up activation plans behind this weekend’s Wild Card playoff games. In N.Y., Giants marketers are driving home the point that this is the first time the two-year-old MetLife Stadium will be hosting an NFL playoff game. The “First-Ever Playoff Game at MetLife Stadium” thematic will be on 80,000 rally towels, sponsored by Toyota, which is presenting sponsor of the game; the “first-ever” thematic throughout the stadium on game day; and on signage adjacent to the Walgreen’s in Times Square. Within the burgeoning social media area, the team offered a free download of an “NFC East Champions” graphic for its Facebook and Twitter page. Giants Senior VP & CMO Mike Stevens said that in its first two days this “badge” was offered, it was downloaded 20,000 times. “Half a dozen teams have already called us about that,” said Stevens. Looking to boost followers to the team’s Twitter feed, the Giants integrated a ticket giveaway with flagship radio WFAN-AM in which fans had to use Twitter to win playoff tickets. Stevens late Thursday said the Giants had added 2,000 new Twitter followers this week because of the promo. The Giants on game day will be showing “live” fan tweets on various stadium video distribution channels. On behalf of Verizon, the Giants will launch what they are saying is the NFL’s first “High-Density Wi-Fi System.” Fans in the stadium can download the Giants Mobile App and users can watch video feeds and replays right on smart phones and tablets during Sunday’s game against the Falcons.

ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGH: The Broncos host the Steelers Sunday in the team’s first home playoff game since ‘05. Broncos Senior Dir of Corporate Partnerships Brady Kellogg noted orange rally towels with the “Mile-High Magic” slogan on them and sponsored by Verizon, The Sports Authority and Bud Light are being given to fans. Area retail promotions have included ticket giveaways with the Broncos cheerleaders, appearances at Bud Light retail accounts and an appearance by the team mascot, Miles, at Verizon Wireless stores, where he helped conduct a ticket contest through clues on Twitter and Facebook.

HOUSTON, WE HAVE LIFTOFF: The Texans have had a decade to plan for their first playoff game, and support is what you would expect around football in Texas -- multidimensional. Texans President Jamey Rootes said Kroger is the presenting sponsor of Saturday’s game against the Bengals and is putting its name on 70,000 "Go Texans" signs fans will get as they enter the game. Reliant Energy, which entitles the Texans home field, has its name on the same number of rally towels. The team has put up “Go Texans” billboard with RB Arian Foster in Austin, San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Beaumont and the Rio Grande Valley. On game day, grocer H-E-B is staging a special playoff edition of its popular tailgate cooking contest. There will be a card stunt that will spell out “Go Texans.” Former Houston Oilers QB Dan Pastorini and former coach Bum Phillips are being brought out for the pregame ceremony.

QUIET ON THE BAYOU: Saints VP/Marketing & Business Development Ben Hales said Mercedes-Benz is the presenting sponsor for the team’s game against the Lions Saturday night. However, ramped-up sponsor activation will be light in New Orleans. Mercedes-Benz is not doing any giveaways but have enhanced vehicle displays and additional in-game elements. Meanwhile, the team will open Champions Square early for a 3:00pm CT concert by Cowboy Mouth on the Bud Light Stage, while additional entertainment and giveaways will take place at Coors Light Cold Zone outside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Hales said, “Other than that, our partners are really implementing the same promotions as a regular-season game.”

Nissan has announced an extension of its partnership with the Heisman Trophy Trust in which the automaker will become the exclusive "Premier Partner" through ‘16. Nissan will continue to support the charitable mission of the Heisman Trophy Trust, as well as promote the Heisman Trophy through activities such as the Heisman Trophy Tour, consumer sweepstakes, social media, online activities and other events. Nissan began its relationship with the Heisman Trophy in ‘05 (Nissan).

PREPARING FOR THE LIMELIGHT: In Detroit, Louis Aguilar notes the town of Hamtramck, Mich., is “preparing for a potential mega-jolt of publicity if Chevy decides to air a Hamtramck-themed Volt ad during the Super Bowl in February.” From what “interviewed residents can tell, the ad may embrace the ‘to-hell-and-back’ theme that made Chrysler Group LLC's ‘Imported From Detroit’ ad during last year's Super Bowl such a hit.” GM is “being coy about whether the Hamtramck-themed Volt commercial will premiere” during the game. GM Dir of Product & Brand Communications Patrick Morrissey: "We haven't decided yet. ... We create a lot of different spots. The final decision will come in a few weeks" (DETROIT NEWS, 1/6).

LURING THEM IN: In Indianapolis, Anthony Schoettle noted the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association on Wednesday “launched a 25-day, $100,000 advertising campaign to lure regional visitors to the city the weekend before" Super Bowl XLVI on Feb. 5. The campaign, which “includes banner ads on and 30-second ads on Sirius/XM satellite radio and local sports-talk radio stations in Chicago, Cincinnati and Louisville, will run through Feb. 2.” ICVA spokesperson Chris Cahl said, “We’re running the campaign right up until the time that the four-night (hotel-stay) minimums begin.” The tagline of the campaign is “Come see a Super City before the Super Bowl” (, 1/5).

ROTTEN FRUIT: ESPN’s Jim Rome talked about the Nike T-shirts that are being given to the winning teams in BCS games and said, "Just a day after I hyped the ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’ tees that Michigan rocked, I see West Virginia wearing victory tees that say ‘Orange You Glad We Won.’" Rome : "That's the joke your five-year-old tells you when he comes home from school and you pretend it's the funniest thing you've ever heard.” The T-shirt was “almost as embarrassing as Clemson give up 70 in the first place." He asked, "What’s next? The LSU-Alabama winner getting tees that say ‘We Don't Take No BCS’” (“Jim Rome Is Burning,” ESPN2, 1/5).