Coming out of the upfront selling season, NBC Sports Group has booked advertising commitments around "SNF" that make up 97% of the ad sales revenue that the network brought in for the top-rated series last year, NBC execs said. Last year at this time, that number was in the 75-80% range for total revenue booked in '11. NBC Sports Group Exec VP/Sales & Marketing Seth Winter credited NBC's robust sales performance to a hot sports market, particularly in the automotive and technology sectors. "Look at those major technology companies, like Microsoft, Samsung, Apple," Winter said. "These kind of companies are looking at sports as a significant platform to tell their story and sell their products." Winter also credited an internal change at NBC Universal with helping to drive ad sales. NBCU merged all network sales departments into one organization overseen by NBCU President of Advertising Sales Linda Yaccarino. "We can go to market, side-by-side, with properties like Esquire and CNBC and SyFy Channel -- other male-oriented properties with upscale men that we can bring to an advertiser," Winter said. "The Golf Channel viewer and the CNBC viewer are very similar. Advertisers are looking for genres and sports sponsorships. But at the end of the day, they are looking for a particular type of viewer that we can deliver." In addition to "SNF," NBC Sports Group is selling the NHL, its new EPL schedule and the '14 Sochi Games. Once the upfront selling season ends, Winter's team will look to sell long-term sponsorships around "SNF." Winter said, "Right after the upfront, we'll be in the process of renewing a lot of these franchise sponsorships for the next three-to-five, some longer, year deals." He added, "This year, we started that other part of the process, that non-sponsorship, non-long-term part. We started it very early on because of the portfolio and the ability to ignite the marketplace more quickly."
Marketing and Sponsorship
A Mets marketing official "courted a dating website that pairs older women with younger men, seeking to promote third baseman David Wright's All-Star candidacy" ahead of the July 16 MLB All-Star Game at Citi Field, according to Adam Rubin of ESPN N.Y. But the team on Thursday said that it "ultimately got cold feet and backed away from the partnership." Wright recently had been "named 'MLB's Hottest Cub' via a vote of more than 11,000 respondents on the dating website Cougarlife.com." The prospective arrangement, first reported by Deadspin, "eventually was nixed by the employee's superior." Giants 3B Pablo Sandoval leads Wright by "more than 200,000 votes in the most recent balloting that was released Sunday." Wright on Thursday said that he "was appreciative" of the Mets' abandoned marketing effort. He added that he "actually has asked the team to tone down its in-game appeals to fans to vote for him for the All-Star Game." Wright said that he "does not feel right getting singled out for attention while the team is struggling" (ESPNNY.com, 6/13). In N.Y., Mike Puma noted a Mets staffer wrote an e-mail to Cougar Life last Friday “wondering if you would be able to blog/post a story asking your users (who apparently admire David and would love seeing him play in the All-Star Game) to go to the below link to vote David and #VoteWrightNow as he needs their help." After a "back-and-forth exchange, the staffer finally asked his superiors about the idea and it seemed to be quickly shot down." The Mets rep wrote in an e-mail response to Cougar Life, "We don’t feel a partnership working together would be the image that our team and David -- especially since he recently got engaged -- would like to portray" (NYPOST.com, 6/13).
Storms during Thursday's opening round of the U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club "led to plenty of ka-chinging" at the venue's three merchandise tents, which proved to be the "real early leader" after the first day of the tournament, according to Dan Gelston of the AP. When a weather delay began at 8:36am ET, "thousands of fans left their perches in the grandstands and went in search of souvenirs." Aside from the "big, white souvenir tents, there were few options to escape the storm, so fans took advantage of any covered area, no matter the size" (AP, 6/13). In Philadelphia, Andrew Albert notes the U.S. Open merchandising department is "reporting record sales." U.S. Open Senior Dir of Licensing & Merchandising Mary Lopuszynski said, "We had our best pre-championship opening ever. By a lot. A lot of people came out and bought a lot of merchandise." Merchandise tents first opened last Thursday, and Lopuszynski said that this week brought the "best Monday for sales at a U.S. Open." Lopuszynski: "Monday, there was play from about 11 to 3, so we were really busy in the morning and really busy in the afternoon, because there was no golf to watch. I think the rain helps and hurts. It hurts in that some people won't wait for the rain to stop, so they go home and don't shop. It helps in that umbrellas, ponchos, rain gear and jackets, that kinds of stuff, just flies" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 6/14).
YOU WEAR IT WELL: GOLF DIGEST STIX's Marty Hackel reviewed the fashion choices some of the top golfers are wearing at the U.S. Open this week. He wrote Bubba Watson's outfits from Oakley are "excellent looks," providing a "graphic and bold" style. They also show a "nice variety," and Watson gets "bonus points for matching the belt and trousers on Saturday and Sunday." Luke Donald will have an "elegant look, as usual." Donald has "strong color-blocking elements and bold, clear striping." The color choices are "all very good." Defending U.S. Open champ Webb Simpson's outfits are "certainly bold, and that's a good thing." Hackel: "I love the solid red cap and white shoes." It gives Simpson a "signature look for the week." However, Hackel wrote of Brandt Snedeker's attire, "I'll be hitting the snooze button when I see these outfits." Snedeker has an "effusive personality" and could "amp it up with brighter colors that would pop on TV." Instead, he is "playing it safe" (GOLF DIGEST STIX, 6/12 issue).
IN THE CUP: In Philadelphia, Joseph DiStefano reports Philadelphia-based Saxbys Coffee is "offering a fancy-coffee promotion tied to the fortunes" of golfer Jim Furyk. Saxbys will use Furyk's 18-hole scores during this week's U.S. Open, "converted to pennies, as the price for two latte-based drinks developed by the firm's baristas and served at the chain's Haverford store, near the course where the tournament is being played." There is "no contract, just the use of Furyk's widely posted previous-day scores as the price for the next-day drinks" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 6/13).
NOTES: Mercedes-Benz South Africa named golfer Louis Oosthuizen as its new brand ambassador. The car maker will assist with his junior golf academy. Oosthuizen’s other sponsors include UPS, Ping, Audemars Piguet, NetJets, FootJoy and Titleist (THE DAILY)....Two-time U.S. Open champ and current ESPN analyst Andy North is among several investors in Kayo Technology Inc., a Wisconsin-based company that "aims to modernize the practice of physical therapy" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 6/14).
The hype around new Patriots QB Tim Tebow is "alive and well" in New England, as a "slew of Tebow-themed t-shirts, trading cards and jerseys, among other memorabilia items, have recently sprung up," according to Chris Dell of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. Panini America this week "unveiled a new (albeit photoshopped) Tebow card less than 48 hours after" he signed with the team. The card shows Tebow "donning a full New England uniform," and will be "available nationwide in August." The Patriots also "are selling Tebow." In addition to No. 5 Tebow jerseys being sold for $100 at Gillette Stadium’s official Pats Pro Shop, fans can buy the "cheaper, more fulfilling method of copping a two-tone, detachable Tim Tebow lanyard for less than $6." Meanwhile, six out of 49 Tebow items "are Patriot-related when searching the quarterback’s name on ESPNshop.com, including jerseys for men, women and kids as well as the team’s signature throwback red jerseys" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/14). ESPN's Darren Rovell said while "most of the merchandise revenue is split" among the NFL's 32 teams, it is "no surprise the Patriots made such quick work of promoting Tebow." A lack of playing time may have "put him on the backburner for the companies he has endorsement deals with," but if Tebow is "anything close to being relevant in New England, expect more companies to give him a shot" ("Money Talk," ESPN.com, 6/11).
Royals DH Billy Butler's Hit It A Ton Barbecue Sauce has become a "national sensation" since first hitting the shelves in April, according to Pete Grathoff of the K.C. STAR. Local sales, "in particular, have been robust." K.C.-based BBQ company Zarda COO Terry Hyer, whose company worked with Butler to develop the product, said that Zarda also "has seen had a spike in online orders." Hyer: "There’s no way I or anyone could have expected the phenomena that has taken off. Truth is, sales are booming. We’ve been struggling to keep up with everything that’s happened the last two weeks." He added that area grocery stores had "planned to sell the sauce for a limited time, but now they’re reordering." Sales of the sauce "benefit Butler’s Hit-It-A-Ton Foundation." Butler's foundation "supports the Bishop Sullivan Center," which distributes food to needy families in the K.C. area. Bishop Sullivan Center Operations Manager Mike Mathews said that Zarda joined with the non-profit "a year ago and Zarda introduced the 'Billy's Ton of Barbeque Sandwich.'" One dollar from each sandwich sold "went to the center." Zarda later "pitched the idea of the barbecue sauce, and Butler agreed" (K.C. STAR, 6/14).
In New Jersey, John Brennan notes the New York/New Jersey Super Bowl Host Committee has "sent a letter to all 566 municipalities in New Jersey encouraging them to participate in a statewide celebration" of Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2. But the letter "also warns the towns very specifically to make sure they don’t violate" the NFL's licensing rules while promoting their events. The letter notes the committee is "extremely sensitive to events that are sponsored by or connected with products or companies that are competitors to the Host Committee or NFL sponsors" (Bergen RECORD, 6/14).
WHAT'S IN A NAME? In Las Vegas, Howard Stutz noted Boyd Gaming's primary sponsorship of the Las Vegas NASCAR Nationwide Series race "will now be reflected in the name." Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Thursday announced that the race will be named the Boyd Gaming 300 beginning next year. It had previously "been known as the Sam’s Town 300," as the Sam’s Town Hotel & Casino is owned by Boyd Gaming. Company Exec VP & COO Paul Chakmak said that the new name for the race was "chosen after Boyd Gaming extended its sponsorship agreement, ensuring it be the sole corporate sponsor for 20 years" (REVIEWJOURNAL.com, 6/13).
WHO'S IN THE GAME? YAHOO SPORTS' Harrison Mooney noted while EA Sports announced in May that their NHL 14 cover vote competition was between Devils G Martin Brodeur and Blue Jackets G Sergei Bobrovsky, they have "yet to announce which of the backstops won the gig." However, a banner featuring Brodeur is "hanging at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in L.A." On Thursday, "observant fans noticed that, while Brodeur had a banner," Bobrovsky did not (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 6/13).
WHERE'S THE PITCHER? In DC, Bryant Ruiz Switzky noted PNC Bank is "offering customers the chance to throw out the first pitch" at the Aug. 9 Phillies-Nationals at Nationals Park. The bank is "using the promotion, which goes through July 5, in a campaign to get Nats fans to sign up for its new Washington Nationals affinity check card." PNC is a "prominent sponsor" of the Nationals. PNC Financial Services Group Dir of Client & Community Relations Sonia McCormick said that the promotion "started June 3 and so far activity has been 'brisk'" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 6/13).