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Volume 24 No. 117

Marketing and Sponsorship

Many brands were readying for the start of the NCAA Tournament by buying "Promoted Tweets in real time around the ups and downs of numerous college basketball games,” but no company “got in the game like AT&T," according to Christopher Heine of ADWEEK. The company, as "part of a much larger sponsorship deal with the NCAA and Turner Broadcasting, continuously bought ads for tweets going out from @MarchMadness, NCAA's handle for the tourney.” AT&T ran a “rash of Promoted Tweets around Florida Gulf Coast's memorable and improbable two-game run to the Sweet 16 round.” Turner's social media team “tweeted about key moments from the games using the @MarchMadness handle, which AT&T then pushed out as a Promoted Tweet.” AT&T also is “sponsoring photography from the tournament at while pushing out selected ‘NCAA Courtside’ pics via Twitter.” AT&T Social, Digital & Emerging Communications Exec Dir Blair Klein said, "We want to provide behind-the-scenes content so people from their living rooms on their couches can be a part of the on-site game experience." Heine reported AT&T's Promoted Trend ads -- which “come with a hefty $120,000 daily price tag -- demonstrate how Twitter marketing has become closely linked to television viewing.” The company on March 22 “pushed ‘NickyFlash,’ a reference to one of its more popular ‘It's Not Complicated’ broadcast spots;” two days later, its Promoted Trend copy was "ItsNotComplicated." Klein said of the company’s ad buys during the opening weekend of the tourney, "There's the greatest number of games, exciting action and Twitter volume going on during that time. Certainly having a Promoted Trend rather than just Promoted Tweets helps us rise above the other noise." Klein's team for the Sweet 16 “will be sticking with their Promoted Tweet game plan” (, 3/28).

Former NBA coach Phil Jackson Wednesday made “what seemed like a grand but bumbling entrance on Twitter,” but it was just part of a promo with AOL, according to Jason Del Ray of AD AGE. Jackson’s second tweet, posted on Thursday afternoon, links “to a video hosted on AOL's video hub, AOL On, showing Mr. Jackson trying to compose that first tweet while wearing his 11 championship rings.” An AOL spokesperson said that the tweet and video are “actually teasers for an upcoming ‘activation’ around March Madness.” Additional information was not disclosed, but Jackson's Twitter account will “soon provide some updates.” The spokesperson added that a report the Twitter account was “a PR stunt for his new book isn't accurate” (, 3/28). ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser said Jackson is typing with his championships rings on “in a promotion for AOL, which sounds so cheesy." Kornheiser: "But if you see the video you fall in love with it.” ESPN’s Michael Wilbon called the video “charming” (“PTI,” ESPN, 3/28). In L.A., Melissa Rohlin wrote the “more skeptical out there might believe this is all just a ploy to start promoting his book: ‘Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success,’ which will be released in May.” His Twitter photo and background are “taken from the cover of the book” (, 3/28).

In DC, Sarah Kogod noted Redskins RB Alfred Morris on Wednesday filmed an ad for locally-based Easterns Motors Group. The crew of “no fewer than 10 people on hand for the shoot included cameramen, photographers, marketing folks, and assistant for Morris.” Morris joked, “This is a lot of work for a 30-second commercial.” Easterns officials said that Wizards G Bradley Beal was “slated to appear in a commercial as well, possibly sharing a spot with Morris” (, 3/28).

GLAZED OVER: Dunkin' Donuts has replaced Scotts as the presenting sponsor for MLBAM's Beat The Streak fantasy game after a two-year run for the lawn care brand. Beat The Streak this year again carries a $5.6M grand prize that has yet to be awarded in the 13-year history of the game (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer).

TAILGATE READY: ESPN signed Coke Zero to a significant sponsor position on its "College GameDay" football program. The deal marks Coke's biggest position so far on ESPN's college football programming and includes exposure on-air, in digital areas and in ESPN The Magazine. Details about how that on-air exposure will look still are being developed, but ESPN says Coke Zero will activate at each "GameDay" site. Other brands with positions in "College GameDay" include additional Atlanta-based companies The Home Depot and AT&T Mobility (John Ourand, Staff Writer). 

KEEPING UP WITH JONES: Speedo USA on Thursday announced it signed Gold Medal-winning swimmer Cullen Jones to a four-year agreement. Jones, a two-time Olympian who competed in the 50-meter freestyle and swam on U.S. relay teams, was formerly sponsored by Nike. He will wear Speedo apparel through '17. Speedo plans to feature Jones as the face of a new “Learn to Swim” program and product line. He also joins an athlete advisory group that will work with Speedo’s research and development team on new suits and swim products. Jones is represented by Evan Morgenstein of PMG Sports. Other team Speedo swimmers include Michael Phelps, Natalie Coughlin and Ryan Lochte (Tripp Mickle, Staff Writer).