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Volume 24 No. 159

Marketing and Sponsorship

Businesses and trade associations aiming to catch the attention of President Barack Obama are “doing something a little strange: they’re buying up airtime on ESPN,” according to Anna Palmer of POLITICO. Media strategists said that they “offer up the all-sports network as an option to clients who want to get their issues in front of Obama and top White House officials.” One strategist said that the ads “can’t be so obvious that Obama knows he’s the intended audience.” Microsoft took to "MNF" to "bash Google.” It “raised questions about Google’s business practices just as federal regulators were considering bringing actions against Google over competition issues.” Int'l Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Communications Dir Jim Spellane said that the union’s advertising on ESPN is “part of a broader effort to reintroduce the IBEW to the public.” Purple Strategies Founding Partner Bruce Haynes said that the strategy also “reflects the desire to embrace data over experts.” Palmer noted ESPN “isn’t used just to attract inside-the-Beltway viewers.” The net “tried to attract more political ads in the run-up to the presidential election on college and NFL football programs.” The Wesleyan Media Project “tracked just over 450” political ads running on ESPN and ESPN2 during the ‘12 campaign season. The project estimated that more than $4M was "spent on the effort with the vast majority of the ads aired by the Obama campaign.” Political strategy firm AKPD Partner Larry Grisolano said that the reason the Obama campaign "chose to go up on ESPN was because 'sports programming has a high concentration of non-partisan, ideological viewers.'" Trade group Americans for Clean Coal Electricity also has “employed this strategy running ads on the Speed Channel and sponsoring” Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s NASCAR team (, 5/1).

The NCAA football rules committee yesterday announced “the ban of all urls and hashtags from the field for 2013,” as they represent "an advertisement," according to Hugh Kellenberger of the Jackson CLARION-LEDGER. The only ads "allowed on the field are for the NCAA, the conference, the bowl game or the home team.” Mississippi State was the “first to break into the hashtag game when it put #hailstate in the end zones during the 2011 season.” It is unclear “if the ban will extend" to basketball courts. Meanwhile, the committee also ruled that “pylons can have ads printed on them” as long as they are not in the end zone (Jackson CLARION-LEDGER, 5/2). In Mississippi, Brad Locke notes a memo from the committee sent to all schools “outlined what markings are allowed on the field of play: the NCAA logo, conference logo, college/university team name and logo, team name and logo, name of the commercial entity that purchased naming rights to the facility, and in the case of postseason games only the name/logo of the title sponsor.” MSU used the Twitter handle “for marketing, game day information, news, and all the other normal uses” (NORTHEAST MISSISSIPPI DAILY JOURNAL, 5/2). USA TODAY’s Dan Wolken noted there is a “fear that schools could presumably use hashtags as a loophole to commercialize their football field.” College Football Officiating LLC National Coordinator Rogers Redding said, "If they have stuff on the sidelines, or on the walls that go around the stadium, it's OK. The idea is just to preserve the integrity of the field and not open it up to other kinds of advertising" (, 5/1).

With over a week having passed since the Jaguars announced new uniform color combinations, the "revamped Jags gear hasn’t made it into stores yet, leaving many fans wondering when they can get their hands on it,” according to Drew Dixon of the FLORIDA TIMES-UNION. Jacksonville-based Sports Mania manager David Horton said that the “level of interest in the new Jags gear is about the highest he’s ever seen.” Horton said, “People are excited about the jersey. The problem is, the only one available is MJD (running back Maurice Jones-Drew). With him being on a contract year, they’re a little reluctant to buy it.” Jaguars Senior VP/Communications & Media Dan Edwards said that “full shipments of revamped Jaguars apparel won’t likely be shipped to stores until June because of a lag between production and delivery.” He added that the “demand is high: The franchise sold out of a small supply of new Jaguar jerseys that went for more than $100 each at an NFL draft night party held at EverBank Field.” Edwards said, “We are really pleased with the sales at the draft party and are confident that that bodes well for sales entering the season.” Dixon notes uniform changes historically “appear to boost merchandise sales,” yet the Jaguars have “never appeared on the top 10 list in merchandise sales” for the league (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 5/2).

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