Anheuser-Busch and MLB Properties today announced a six-year renewal of the sponsorship agreement that designates Budweiser as the official beer sponsor of MLB. As part of the sponsorship, A-B will have exclusive rights within the malt beverage category to use MLB marks and logos. Budweiser also will be presenting sponsor of MLB Opening Week and the Player of the Month awards, as well as a cornerstone partner of the MLB Fan Cave. New in '12, Budweiser will be the presenting sponsor of the first-ever Wild Card Games, the single-elimination games between the two Wild Card teams from each league that will be played on Oct. 5 (A-B). MARKETWATCH's Sam Mamudi notes the deal "is the Budweiser brand’s biggest sponsorship and extends their 33-year partnership." Though it includes this year’s wild-card games, the six-year pact "will formally start" in '13 as the last agreement was a two-year deal signed in late '10. Neither MLB execs nor A-B "would comment on the value of the new arrangement, but it’s clear that the company is expanding its investment in baseball." A-B "also sponsors 23 of the 30 professional teams." The wild-card matchups "are sure to garner a high level of interest," as the "last time there was such a game -- when the Detroit Tigers played the Minnesota Twins in a 163rd game in October 2009 -- 6.5 million viewers tuned in." MLB Exec VP/Business Tim Brosnan said, "There’s a need and an urgency to break through all the clutter … and we think we’ve created an opportunity to allow Budweiser to make that breakthrough” (MARKETWATCH.com, 8/22).
Marketing and Sponsorship
Gymnast Aly Raisman has signed a one-year deal with Poland Spring Brand 100% Natural Spring Water for her "first major endorsement deal since winning two gold medals in the London Olympics," according to Adams & Reiss of the BOSTON GLOBE. Maine-based Poland Spring, which is owned by Nestle Waters North America, said that it is "still working out details of Raisman's endorsement, including whether she will appear on water bottles or in TV and print ads." Though Poland Spring "markets its products through major league sporting organizations such as the Boston Red Sox, the company has done little in the way of backing individual sports figures; Raisman is just the second athlete Poland Spring has retained for endorsement, behind marathoner Josh Cox." Raisman said that her agent "has received other sponsorship offers, but declined to name the companies." Before the Olympics, Raisman "struck deals with Polo Ralph Lauren, leotard-maker GK Elite Sportswear, Kellogg's, and the National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board of the 'Got Milk?' ads" (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/22).
NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. is “a natural choice” as the cover star of Activision’s “NASCAR The Game: Inside Line,” and he was chosen to be the game's “primary ambassador via an online poll that drew more than 750,000 votes through heavy promotion in social media,” according to Nate Ryan of USA TODAY. After a “one-year hiatus from the video game market” in ‘10, NASCAR returned last year “with an Activision-licensed product, but it didn't feature a driver on the cover.” Earnhardt will be the “focus of a marketing campaign launching next month before the game's November release.” NASCAR Senior VP & CMO Steve Phelps said that the video game “dovetails with the sport's digital-oriented strategy of appealing to Millennials who are obsessed with consuming content via iPads and smartphones.” The game will have an “enhanced level of fan engagement with online features for PlayStation and Xbox 360.” Through the online iRacing.com game, Earnhardt “met one of the developers of ‘NASCAR The Game: Inside Line’ and has corresponded with him about its progress.” Though he “hadn't played the 2012 version of the game yet, Earnhardt said its features should be an improvement over last year's model.” And he “isn't worried about a cover jinx heading into the Chase for the Sprint Cup.” Earnhardt: "That was more of an EA (Sports) thing, a Madden thing. Hopefully now that we're on a new developer, Activision will bring me a lot of luck" (USA TODAY, 8/22).
The Pistons yesterday said that they are “in talks with unnamed companies vying to become the team’s next presenting sponsor to replace PNC Bank,” according to Bill Shea of CRAIN'S DETROIT BUSINESS. PNC in ‘11 signed “what is thought to be a one-year deal with the Pistons to become their presenting sponsor for the 2011-12 regular season and playoffs.” That deal ends Oct. 30 and PNC Regional President Ric DeVore said that the bank “will not renew it.” The bank is "ending its Pistons presenting sponsorship on the heels of signing a seven-figure, three-year deal to become the official bank" of the Univ. of Michigan ’s athletic department. Financial terms “never were revealed on the Pistons deal, which put the bank’s logo prominently throughout The Palace of Auburn Hills and on Pistons print, broadcast and digital marketing.” PNC’s relationship with the Pistons “was the result of PNC’s buying Cleveland-based National City Bank on Dec. 31, 2008.” National City signed on as the team’s sponsor in October ‘08 “in what was thought to be a five-year deal worth between $1 million and $2 million annually” (CRAINSDETROIT.com, 8/21).
FINANCE 101: The Univ. of Michigan and PNC Bank's three-year agreement begins immediately and runs through June 30, 2015. PNC Bank will become the presenting sponsor of the "Inside Michigan Football" television show on FS Detroit. In addition, PNC Bank will have an advertising presence during the "Inside Michigan Basketball" show with coach John Beilein, and radio broadcasts of both football and men's basketball. Under the terms of the agreement, PNC will be able to use Michigan's “Block M" in advertising, marketing and promotional materials that will be prominent in the bank's signage at Crisler Center and Yost Ice Arena. The deal was negotiated by UM's multimedia rights partner IMG College (Michigan).
Red Sox Exec VP & COO Sam Kennedy yesterday said that the "ballclub's front office was 'extremely, extremely disappointed' in the team's performance this season but he added that its sponsorship base of nearly 100 local and national companies has stood firmly by its side," according to Ira Kantor of the BOSTON HERALD. Kennedy said, "People are not investing in the Red Sox for one season. However, we are realistic and we understand if we don't demonstrate the skills and actions necessary to improve over the long run, there will be the negative impacts of a losing team and a team that doesn't perform up to expectations." Team sponsors Covidien and Dunkin' Donuts yesterday said that they "had no plans to restructure their partnerships with the team." Chicago-based SportsCorp. President Marc Ganis said that most sponsors "would stay on board 'for at least the near term.'" He said, "You never want to be the sponsor that leads the exodus" (BOSTON HERALD, 8/22).
National Urban League President & CEO Marc Morial has “urged Nike Inc. to abandon plans to release the company's new LeBron X sneakers,” according to Shelly Banjo of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Morial said he received "incessant phone calls and emails" from angry consumers who balked at the brand’s rising sneaker prices. The shoes named for Heat F LeBron James “are likely to go on sale for more than $300 a pair.” The sneakers come “with built-in electronics that measure how high wearers jump and how far they run.” Analysts said that they “expect Nike to issue a relatively small number -- about 50,000 -- of the $300 shoes, with a less-expensive version of the shoe, without the electronics, likely to cost $180, or $10 more than the previous edition, the LeBron 9” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/22). Morial in a statement said, “To release such an outrageously overpriced product while the nation is struggling to overcome an unemployment crisis is insensitive at best. It represents twisted priorities and confused values.” USA TODAY’s Jeffrey Martin notes the group is “also begging parents not to purchase the shoe” (USA TODAY, 8/22). Nike North America Senior Communications Manager Brian Strong yesterday said that the reported price was “inaccurate.” He said that the main version of the shoe "would come at a significantly lower price point" (ESPN.com, 8/21).
WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE? In Orlando, George Diaz wrote, “The $315 price tag is insane, for sure, but is it much different than an adidas Chicago Bulls Revolution 30 Custom Authentic Alternate Jersey that sells for as much as $289.99? Or a Peyton Manning jersey that sells for $99.99? Or an Alex Rodriguez authentic road jersey that sells for $184.99?” Stuff with “authentic” major league brands “are always pricey, and although it would be really nice if LeBron and the rest of corporate America decided to show some compassion by cutting the price to $29.99, it wouldn’t make much business sense” (ORLANDOSENTINEL.com, 8/21).
As Gannett's USA Today Sports Media Group moves toward recasting its media holdings as a property, it has sold what it hopes is a template deal, bringing on American Family Insurance as title sponsor of various USA Today All-American high school teams. The first American Family Insurance All-USA team will be unveiled tomorrow, with the selection of the '12 preseason high school football team at USA Today High School Sports (www.usatodayhss.com) and in the print edition of USA Today. USA Today/Gannett Sports also create branded digital content under the deal, along with local and regional media extensions across various Gannett media properties. Eric Bechtel's Ideaquest negotiated the deal for American Family Insurance. The USA Today/Gannett affiliation continues American Family Insurance's collection of high school sports assets, which also encompasses the title to the High School Slam Dunk & 3-Point Championships, and sponsorship roles in the Under Armour All-America football game, the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and the McDonald’s All-American Basketball Games.
CSNBAYAREA.com's Andrew Baggarly wrote MLB Giants officials "saved themselves a lot of waste and even more embarrassment, canceling an order for 20,000 Melky Cabrera T-shirts just as their supplier was about to print them." Giants VP/Communications Staci Slaughter said that fans attending the Sept. 8 game against the Dodgers "will receive an Angel Pagan T-shirt instead." The giveaway "will still feature the 'Gigantes' logo on the front but will bear Pagan's name and number on the back" (CSNBAYAREA.com, 8/21).
ADD TO CART: In Newark, Tom Luicci notes Monday's "debut of RutgersShop.com -- the school's official on-line merchandise store -- drew nearly 5,000 visitors to the new site on the first day." RutgersShop.com "offers more than 400 Rutgers-related items." Rutgers AD Tim Pernetti said that blackout T-shirts for the Oct. 6 home football game against UConn are "proving to be one of the most sough-after items" (NEWARK STAR-LEDGER, 8/22).
FREE FALLING: In Philadelphia, Frank Fitzpatrick notes demand for Penn State merchandise "has plummeted in the nine months since" the arrest of Jerry Sandusky. SportsOneSource analyst Matt Powell said, "Since the scandal, and particularly since the Freeh report came out, sales have fallen off dramatically. The last four weeks sales of Penn State merchandise have been down about 50 percent" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 8/22).
SCHOOL SPIRIT SNACKS: USA TODAY's Scott Gleeson noted "five universities have partnered with Kellogg's on limited edition Pop Tarts." The boxes "feature school logos and are being labeled 'printed fun.'" The flavor "coincides with the school's athletic team." The flavors are "as follows: Michigan's Pop Tart flavor is Go Blue Strawberry; Georgia is Bulldog Berry; Arkansas is Razorback Red; Florida is Florida Gators Strawberry; and North Carolina is Tar Heel Blue" (USATODAY.com, 8/21).