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Volume 24 No. 155

Marketing and Sponsorship

Visa has reached an "eight-year sponsorship extension" valued at more than $170M to stay a FIFA World Cup sponsor though the '22 event in Qatar, according to Tripp Mickle of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The deal ensures Visa, which also is an IOC TOP sponsor, will "have the rights to the two premiere global sports properties ... for the rest of the decade." Sources said that FIFA has "clawed back some of the rights that Visa has in its current deal," which runs through '14. The existing deal gives Visa the rights to "both the payment services category and the retail banking category." Visa has been able to "take the retail banking rights and sell them in many markets around the world, recouping some of its sponsorship cost by auctioning those rights in targeted countries." But FIFA will "keep control" of those rights in the new deal, leaving Visa as only the payment services category. The change gives FIFA the "chance to boost its total haul from the retail banking category by selling rights in Europe during the coming World Cups." It also will result in Visa "spending more for less," and the company will not be "able to offset its costs in the same way." It is "unclear whether Visa will be able to pass through, but not sell, rights to use the World Cup and FIFA logos to banks worldwide," something it does with its IOC deal (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 4/1 issue).

AT&T's most recent ads in its "It's Not Complicated" campaign feature comedian Beck Bennett speaking with a group of Basketball HOFers instead of children, and in a “sight gag that also serves to link the two series of commercials, the new ones, like the original ones, take place in a classroom,”according to Stuart Elliott of the N.Y. TIMES. AT&T's new spots featuring Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Bill Russell began running on Saturday around the NCAA Tournament. AT&T Mobility CMO David Christopher said the company for its NCAA Tournament ads thought it would be "fun to do a riff" on the commercials with the children, cast the former players as "a fun way to give a nod to basketball fans." Bennett in an ad called “Up Top" asks the players whether it is better to be bigger or smaller in basketball, a question that "echoes one he asks the children." He then "tries to high-five them," but it “proves awkward.” In another spot called “Slow Break,” Bennett says, “I mean, they don’t call it a slow break, do they?” Johnson jokes, “Well, in Larry’s case maybe they do.” The other players laugh, and Bird says, "It’s like I don’t have feelings." Bennett then “tries awkwardly to give the much-taller Mr. Bird a hug.” Christopher said that the two ads will “alternate with the commercials featuring the children." Elliott notes the basketball ads are “scheduled to end with the NCAA national championship game on April 8.” However, BBDO Atlanta Creative Dir Stephen McMennamy, whose agency created the ads, said "it's not out of the realm of possibility" for the company to continue showing them if the public likes them (, 3/29). USA TODAY’s Sean Highkin wrote the ads with the children “can be grating after a while,” but the spots with the former players work because of their "obvious camaraderie" (, 3/30).

The first of four episodes of TBS’ “Conan” will be taped in Atlanta today at The Tabernacle, with a pair of NCAA corporate champions, Coca-Cola and AT&T, serving as presenting sponsors. The shows air tonight through Thursday at 11:00pm ET and serve as part of the promotional build-up to this weekend’s Final Four at the Georgia Dome. Host Conan O’Brien began sending out Twitter posts this past weekend upon his arrival in Atlanta, and will continue his Atlanta and NCAA tournament social media blasts through the week. Coke Zero and AT&T have prominent branding on O’Brien’s Team Coco website. “The vision is to figure out a way to truly fuse sports and entertainment and Conan is a critical piece of the build-up,” said Coca-Cola Senior VP/Sports & Marketing Partnerships Sharon Byers. “It all goes back to discussions that David Levy and I were having last year at the Final Four in New Orleans. How can we up the activation in Atlanta, particularly because this is the 75th anniversary of the tournament and Atlanta is our hometown (for Coca-Cola headquarters). That’s where the Conan discussions came into being. Conan provides a direct target to the 18-24 group. He’s really popular with college kids and he talks to them in a unique way. It hits the bull’s eye for us, especially with his focus on social media.” Among O’Brien’s guests will be Turner analyst Charles Barkley on Thursday. The show also promotes other Final Four-related surprises throughout the week.

DANCE TO THE MUSIC: Coca-Cola also is expanding its musical lineup for the weekend. In the past, Coca-Cola has sponsored one of three Final Four concerts on the Saturday with a pair of musical acts. This Saturday, however, it will have a full day of music, including performances by Muse, Flo Rida, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, and Ludacris in Centennial Park. O’Brien’s sidekick on the show, Andy Richter, will emcee the full day of music. AT&T’s concert on Friday features the Zac Brown Band with My Morning Jacket and Saints of Valory, while Capital One on Sunday brings in Dave Matthews Band with Sting and Grace Potter & The Nocturnals. “This is the first year we have gone soup to nuts, with concerts all day long,” Byers said. “It’s really a perfect fusion of all the properties -- Turner, CBS and the NCAA -- working together to make this happen.”

NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. “teamed up with Sprint for a 30-second ad” to promote Sprint’s Drive First app, which “can block and send automatic replies to text messages while you drive,” according to The spot was shot at Charlotte Motor Speedway in mid-March and “will begin airing" during this weekend's racing at Martinsville Speedway. The “overarching message is that driving isn't the problem, and texting isn't the problem; 'and' is the problem.” The ad features Earnhardt with “two members of his crew in the garage at a track.” One of them says, "Hey Dale, I got your text that said you couldn't text." Then the other says, "Wait. What? Why would he text that he couldn't text?" Earnhardt replies: "I was driving." The exchange “ignites a discussion about how and why a text is sent when the person who sends the text doesn't actually send it -- all of which refers to the Sprint Drive First app and how it sends reply text messages while someone is driving.” An additional video “will be shown at the Sprint Unlimited Experience at tracks each weekend throughout the season where they can interact with Earnhardt by texting his number” (, 3/30).

NOT SO FAST:'s David Newton reported Joe Gibbs Racing was "premature to announce that Mark Martin would replace Denny Hamlin while he recovers from a compression fracture in his lower back." Instead, Brian Vickers will "assume Hamlin's schedule starting April 13 at Texas Motor Speedway." Team Owner Michael Waltrip said, "All we were doing was offering help. We agreed that Mark was driving at Martinsville, and we were working through what it looked like after that." Martins and Vickers "split driving duties for the No. 55" car. Sources said that Aaron's, the "primary sponsor on the No. 55, preferred Martin in the car for his scheduled races because the company has activated sponsorship around the 54-year-old driver" (, 3/29).

PEDESTRIAN NUMBERS: In Orlando, Dan Tracy notes the Florida DOT sponsored NASCAR driver Joe Nemechek for the season-opening Nationwide Series race at Daytona on Feb. 23. State officials were “pleased because millions of people saw the agency's pedestrian-safety motto, ‘Alert Today, Alive Tomorrow,’ plastered all over Nemechek's No. 87 car.” The $174,500 sponsorship was one part of the $1.8M "public-private partnership for pedestrian safety developed by the state.” ESPN during the broadcast of the race “tapped into Nemechek's in-car camera for parts of the race.” FDOT Manager Trenda McPherson estimated that the exposure “netted another $500,000 worth of commercial air time because the ‘Alert Today’ logo was clearly visible” (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 4/1).

Golf Channel and NBC have launched a sweepstakes that will award four tandems of father/sons and father/daughters with a trip to the U.S. Open. At, viewers can upload photos of their father or a father figure through the site or via Instagram. Golf Channel Senior VP/Marketing Regina O'Brien described it as Golf Channel’s way to “honor dads and father figures through the great game we love to play.” Submissions are entered into a daily sweepstakes for tee times at GolfNow, and each submission also goes into the drawing for the grand prize. Starting May 13, Golf Channel’s GolfNow tee time booking site will offer weekly “Deals for Dad” through the Father’s Day microsite. “Four grand-prize winners will claim the 'Father’s Day trip of the lifetime,'" according to the network, which will provide the trips to the U.S. Open at Merion. Included in the top prize is the opportunity to compete in Golf Channel’s Father’s Day Open on June 10 at Philadelphia Country Club. The sweepstakes runs through May 5 and the four grand-prize winners will be announced the week of May 6.