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Volume 24 No. 154

Marketing and Sponsorship

Insurer USAA, the NFL’s official military appreciation sponsor, is "activating heavily around the Salute to Service initiative, with sponsored tie-ins at 16 NFL stadiums, up from six last year," according to Terry Lefton in this week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. Activation includes "eight card stunts where fans will flip cards thanking vets; distribution of thousands of branded wrist bands; a 'million fan salute' digital campaign; team events involving local military members; and the continuation of the Salute to Service award, which honors outstanding efforts in supporting the military community." USAA "became a league sponsor in" August '11. The NFL is "donating $100 for every point scored during 32 designated Military Appreciation games to either the Pat Tillman Foundation, the USO or the Wounded Warrior Project." The league also is "integrating on-field elements, beginning with" last Thursday’s Chiefs-Chargers game. End zones will be "branded with 'Salute to Service' stenciled in the back, and players will wear helmet stickers supporting various military units." Wilson footballs will have a "special NFL shield with a 'camo' ribbon, as will end-zone pylons, goal posts and the Gatorade-emblazoned sideline towels." There also will be "Nike and Under Armour camo gloves." The league is "looking to develop the military salute as an annual initiative, similar to its pink effort" for breast cancer awareness in October (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 11/5 issue).

STARS & STRIPES FOREVER: In Newark, Tom Luicci noted the Rutgers Univ. football team in its home game against Army Saturday will use "flag-themed headgear reserved for playing against military academies." The design is "similar to what was done for the first time last year against the Black Knights -- except it is now set against the new, silver metallic helmets Rutgers wears." The block "R" on the side is "filled in with stars and stripes." There also is a "strip down the middle of the helmet with the same look." The helmet "pops with a distinctive splash of red, white and blue." Rutgers DT Scott Vallone said, "I was trying to get stars and stripes for the numbers, too" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 11/6).

Bensussen Deutsch & Associates (BDA), MLB's preferred premium merchandise provider, today announced it has signed a three-year contract to be an official licensee and promotional premiums provider of the Baseball HOF. BDA will design and develop licensed replicas of HOF plaques and other iconic artifacts to be distributed by MLB and MiLB teams and through the Baseball HOF retail outlets, including the Cooperstown, N.Y.-based museum's store, website and catalog business. "A Baseball Hall of Fame merchandise giveaway can have a measurable impact at the gate," said BDA co-Founder & CEO Jay Deutsch. "Fans treasure a keepsake that lets them celebrate the milestones of their favorite team and players." The announcement coincides with the 18th annual Baseball Think Tank hosted by BDA this week in Las Vegas. The three-day interactive conference fosters league-wide collaboration on product ideas for sponsorship activation, merchandise giveaway strategies and best practices within the sports marketing and promotions industry. The HOF has licensed a handful of such premium giveaways in the past, beginning in '09 when the Dodgers were celebrating Tommy Lasorda's 50 years with the club. The HOF licensed a replica plaque of the former manager that was given out to 45,000 fans at a Dodgers' game. "This will be great brand building and marketing for us, but it's also nice for the Hall of Famer and the team too," said Baseball HOF VP/Retail Marketing & Licensing Sean Gahagan.

Vancouver-area store Sports Corner is “hurting” as "another example of collateral damage" from the NHL lockout, according to Elliott Pap of the VANCOUVER SUN. Canucks jerseys are “still displayed everywhere in the store, racks upon racks of them, but many are collecting dust.” Store manager Mike Jackson yesterday said of the lockout, “It's had a huge impact on our business. We are way down. We are praying they get back to work and we can start selling stuff again. Right now, it is very grim." Jackson "fears" the store’s Robson outlet “might be forced to close its doors if the NHL cancels the entire season.” Jackson: "We'll survive a shortened season but I think we'll probably have to close the Robson store if there is no season at all. Compared to a normal season when the NHL is going, we're probably down a good 40 per cent. We carry the whole NHL but the Canucks are our driving force. Right now, we've had to discount our Canucks jerseys because we have bills to pay.” Pap notes Sports Corner is “predominantly a jersey, T-shirt and hat store.” In the “absence of an NHL market, it is trying” to survive on its CFL and NFL merchandise sales. The store’s Jersey City outlet in Richmond Centre has “moved its Canucks display towards the rear of the store.” Store manager Letitia Madden said that it is “receiving a lot of grief from frustrated hockey fans” (VANCOUVER SUN, 11/7).