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Volume 24 No. 116
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Brands Are Increasingly Using Actors, Musicians To Help Promote Sports Sponsorships

Sports and entertainment have always been linked, but the two industries are becoming increasingly intertwined. Coca-Cola’s activation around this weekend’s Final Four is a prime example. The soft drink company is bringing several top musical acts, including MUSE, LUDACRIS and MACKLEMORE, to Atlanta for a concert at Centennial Park. Coca-Cola Senior VP/Sports & Entertainment Marketing Partnerships SHARON BYERS said, “You want to make sure that you’re picking artists that are relevant for the brand -- in this case Coke Zero -- that merge fans interested in that music and also in basketball. Finding that merger in your consumer base is critically important.” XIX Entertainment Senior Exec TOM SHINE said the difficulty companies face is “getting the right people for the right product.” He referenced a recent Mercedes-Benz ad featuring musician USHER and supermodel KATE UPTON as a good example of using celebrities in the proper setting and said, “It has to look like it fits together. You can’t just take assets and drop them in an ad.”

IF IT'S IN THE GAME: EA Sports Exec VP ANDREW WILSON noted the emergence of social media such as Twitter has allowed both sports personalities and entertainment stars to “interact together on a minute-to-minute, hour-by-hour basis.” EA put rapper SNOOP DOGG in a commercial for its “FIFA” videogame franchise last year, and Wilson noted the appearance added to the authenticity of the game “because before we had a relationship, he was tweeting about ‘FIFA.’” Additionally, actor PAUL RUDD starred with former Ravens LB RAY LEWIS in a series of ads for “Madden NFL 13” in part because he actively plays the game. Wilson: “Not only did he want to be involved in the campaign, he wanted to bring his whole writing crew to work on the campaign.” He added, “What we found is the level of passion out there that’s been created by social media and Twitter is actually bringing these two groups together very, very naturally.”

-- Mondelez Int’l Senior Dir of U.S. Consumer Engagement & Marketing Services STEPHEN CHRISS, on keeping its sports and entertainment properties separate: “My budget might not be as deep where I can begin to bring things together, so I have to be laser focused.”

-- JPMorgan Chase Head of Sports & Entertainment Marketing STEVE PAMON: “If you’re a 13-year-old girl that lives in Queens, you might not care about the Knicks or the Rangers. But if ONE DIRECTION shows up for Jingle Ball, you’re there early.”

-- Shine, on activation mistakes: “I don’t think there’s a bigger fault in all of marketing than people that buy something, put their name on something, then walk away from it.”