Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 24 No. 155

Marketing and Sponsorship

Liberty Mutual has signed on as the official property, life & casualty insurance company of the USOC, replacing Allstate. The deal announced today will cover the '14 Sochi and '16 Rio de Janeiro Games. The agreement is valued at $15-20M over that period and makes Liberty Mutual one of the highest level sponsors of the USOC alongside AT&T, BMW and others. It is a modest increase from the $10-15M over four years that Allstate paid. Liberty Mutual will not be able to activate its sponsorship until next year but wanted to announce the deal early because the company is in the middle of celebrating its 100th anniversary. Liberty Mutual Senior VP/Corporate Communications Paul Alexander said, “Building brand awareness is really important to our aspirations. We want to go from being the No. 6 brand globally in property and casualty insurance to the No. 3 brand. There are few opportunities that stick with our responsibility positioning as well as sponsoring the U.S. Olympic Team.” USOC CMO Lisa Baird said, “They’re a marketing driven company. They’re really doing some incredible things. I love what they did with responsibility as a platform and it’s a natural fit with our platform and our athletes. That’s why we’re excited about this.” Alexander said that Liberty Mutual will develop an activation plan for Sochi over the next three to six months. He said it will evaluate whether it needs to hire an agency for the Olympics. It is a domestic sponsor of the '14 FIFA World Cup in Brazil and work with Octagon there. The USOC deal and the World Cup sponsorship are Liberty Mutual’s two largest deals. It also has NGB sponsorships with USA Hockey and USA Wrestling. 21 Marketing represented Liberty Mutual in negotiations with the USOC and will do strategy work for the company. Ketchum is working on its public relations.

ANY INTEREST? The USOC deal began with an e-mail that Baird sent Alexander several months ago when it became clear that Allstate would not return as a sponsor. The two had worked together when Baird was at the NFL and Alexander was at Campbell’s Soup. She asked him if Liberty Mutual would be interested in partnering with the USOC if a sponsorship became available, and he said it would. The USOC hosted Liberty Mutual execs at the London Games and took them to the organization’s training centers in Lake Placid, Colorado Springs and Chula Vista, Calif. The USOC's Mitch Poll and Michael O’Connor closed the deal. In addition to the agreement with Liberty Mutual, the USOC has a Paralympic sponsorship with The Hartford, its official disability insurance partner, and Olympic and Paralympic sponsor Highmark, its medical insurance partner.

Molson Coors President & CEO Peter Swinburn yesterday said that once the NHL lockout ends, the company “will seek financial compensation from the league over the negative impact that a lack of games has had on the hockey league sponsor,” according to Ross Marowits of the CP. Swinburn said, “There will be some redress for us as a result of this. I can't quantify that and I don't know because I don't know the scale of how long the lockout is going to last." Molson Coors said that the lockout has “forced the beer company into the penalty box by reducing beer sales across Canada for its marquee brands.” Swinburn: "Whether it's people not actually physically going to the venues and consuming there, consuming in venues around the outlet before that, or indeed having NHL sort of parties at home, all of those occasions have disappeared off the map and you just can't replicate them." The impact of the lockout is “more pronounced in Canada than in the United States and has particularly hurt sales of Coors Light and Molson Canadian” (CP, 11/7). University of Ottawa professor Norm O’Reilly said that “repairing the relationship with Molson-Coors will be a top priority for the league whenever the lockout ends, especially considering that Geoff Molson owns the Montreal Canadiens” (TORONTO STAR, 11/8).

The MSG Network said that it would “take down all posters associated with its recent advertising campaign, which generated buzz but also was considered controversial,” according to Darren Rovell of The network confirmed an ad seen in N.Y. on Tuesday "as well as what is believed to be at least three other similar-type ads, would be completely removed from all its locations.” The ad read, "It's Friday night. You can either go out and attempt to pick up sixes and sevens or stay home and watch (Knicks guard Jason) Kidd dish out dimes” (, 11/7). YAHOO SPORTS’ Kelly Dwyer wrote, “Sold-out Knick games are lined up on just about every Friday and/or Saturday all season, and in putting together an ad like the Knicks are telling each of their less-successful fairer sex-chasers that it's just fine to stay at home instead of going ugly (to their moronic specifications) early” (, 11/7). 

Oakley will “become a partner of the Tour de France bicycle race next year after ending a long relationship with Lance Armstrong,” according to Tariq Panja of BLOOMBERG NEWS. Oakley CEO Colin Baden yesterday said that the company “did not receive a discount because of the doping scandal centering around Armstrong.” Baden said, “I would like to see that the sport be what it once was. It’s unfortunate what we’ve all experienced. It would be really nice to get back to the place where it’s admired, respected and understood.” Oakley had been “working on the sponsorship deal for 12 months.” Baden said that the decision to partner with the Tour for the first time “deepens the company’s relationship with a sport where he says the Oakley brand ‘was discovered.’” Panja notes Oakley, which was “one of Armstrong’s earliest sponsors,” was the “last major sponsor to ditch Armstrong” (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 11/8).

Knowledge is Power: Become a Better Sports Marketer

SportsBusiness Journal/Daily’s Resource Guide LIVE, an invaluable industry database and business development resource, is a must-have for every sports marketer. With exclusive corporate sponsorship data, valuable insights on naming rights and athlete endorsements, Resource Guide LIVE is trusted by hundreds of teams, agencies, brands and other sports properties around the world.

Take a look for yourself by visiting or scheduling an online demo today.