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Volume 24 No. 117

Marketing and Sponsorship

MLB corporate sponsors are readying activation plans for the World Series, which opens tomorrow night at Fenway Park. Sponsored gate premiums include miniature American flags for Game 1, which will tie in with MLB corporate patron Bank of America’s “Express Your Thanks” cause-related efforts supporting veterans. For Game 2, fans will get a Taco Bell-branded lanyard/ticket holder. Game 3 sees MLB largesse in the form of Chevy-branded rally towels, while Game 4 sees MasterCard underwriting a silicone bracelet and rally towel behind the Stand Up To Cancer initiative. Each of the first four games ties to a separate cause-related initiative. For Game 1, it is veterans causes; for game 2, it is Habitat For Humanity; for Game 3, it’s RBI, along with the Boys & Girls Clubs program; while Game 4 is tied to Stand Up To Cancer.

GOING ON TOUR: On the ground, the T-Mobile World Series Trophy tour will make stops at the company’s retail outlets in Boston and St. Louis, along with a retired player from each team. Chevrolet is the presenting sponsor of the World Series MVP award, which includes a ‘14 Silverado High Country, along with a baseball field makeover in the winner’s hometown. Chevy also titles the ‘Strong Arm Player of the Game” award for each game on Fox and will underwrite a 20 x 30 LED board outside Busch Stadium in St. Louis, on which fans can play virtual home run derby.

CATCH A WHIFF: P&G's Head & Shoulders “Season of the Whiff” Twitter promotion continues through the World Series. The team with the most #whiff tweets at the end of the World Series will receive an additional donation for their local RBI leagues. Fox air talent will plug the program during Game 3 as part of an in-game enhancement, and Angels P and brand endorser C.J. Wilson will also stage a "takeover" of the H&S Twitter feed during Game 3. MLB sponsors employing World Series POS in the Boston and St. Louis markets include Anheuser-Busch, Frito-Lay, and Kellogg's. MLB corporate patrons buying ad time in the Fox World Series telecasts include A-B, B of A, Chevy, MasterCard, Head & Shoulders, Pepsi, Taco Bell, and T-Mobile.

Converse has "hired Publicis Groupe's MediaVest" as its agency of record after a review, according to sources cited by Alexandra Bruell of AD AGE. Wieden & Kennedy, the creative and media shop for Converse parent company Nike, "had previously supported the Converse media business." Converse "looked at a few large shops, including Omnicom's OMD and independent Horizon." For MediaVest, the account is "small," at around $22M, "but it's steeped in pop culture and fashion, adding a bit of fun to a portfolio of big spenders and corporate brands, such as Walmart, Mondelez and Honda." The budget also is up from the $5M that Converse "spent on U.S. measured media last year" (, 10/21).

The NFL and United Way are marking the 40th anniversary of their partnership by collaborating with USA Today Sports Media Group for an online vote to determine the best NFL-United Way PSAs of the past 40 years. The effort, which can be found at, is powered by the USA Today Ad Meter. The top 40 ads will be revealed by the decade over a four-week period. Starting today, fans can rate each ad on a scale of 1-10 (NFL). The top 10 PSAs "will be featured on, and the winning one will be announced Dec. 15." More than 800 NFL players over the years "have appeared in NFL-United Way ads" (USA TODAY, 10/21). Aquarius Sports Group CEO and United Way BOD member Marc Bluestein served as a liaison on the program and helped in conceptualizing and implementing the idea. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Pro Football HOFer Franco Harris will lead a host of dignitaries at a Bronx public school this afternoon kicking off a celebration of the 40th anniversary. Harris appeared in one of the first PSAs (Terry Lefton, Editor-At-Large).

Spurs F Tim Duncan and a group of teammates early this month filmed their "annual batch of television spots" for San Antonio-based supermarket chain H-E-B, according to Dan McCarney of the SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS. The spots have been "recognized on ESPN and, and the NBA distributes copies to other franchises as an example of how to market athletes." H-E-B Group VP/Marketing & Advertising Cory Basso said that the campaign has "won more than a dozen local and national honors." Basso: “If you look at other (local) commercials around the league, I think we've found a way to come off as fun, original and still about the product. We didn't (copy) anything. We just tried to use humor, use the players' personalities and do something different.” The commercials "began airing in the mid-2000s, with Duncan appearing solo." The tone was "offbeat from the start, but it wasn't until H-E-B began including his teammates that the spots truly took off." The "popular commercials, roughly 30 in all," are produced by Dallas-based The Richards Group. Richards Group Brand Manager Howard Blevins said that the creative process "begins in August, when his team sketches out as many as two dozen rough ideas." With input from "Basso and the Spurs, the pool is narrowed to four or five scripts." Among the "many celebrities" campaign director Chris Smith has worked with, the Spurs "stand out for their willingness to participate." Blevins said that it was Duncan's idea to "wear a tuxedo T-shirt" in a commercial in which a coyote "gets his tongue stuck to an ice sculpture at a black-tie dinner party." Basso "declined to reveal details from this year's commercials," but he did "provide a clue about the much-anticipated inclusion of Kawhi Leonard." Spurs F Matt Bonner "also has a cameo" (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 10/22).

Hockey Canada, the "most influential sports governing body in Canada, is pursuing an ethical sourcing policy for its merchandising partners for hockey sweaters, T-shirts and other fan goods," according to Westhead & Feschuk of the TORONTO STAR. The organization's senior staff last Thursday presented the executive committee "with a proposal to begin discussions with three or four industry watchdogs that monitor suppliers of western retailers in the developing world." Hockey Canada COO Scott Smith said, "We want to keep up to the highest standards of transparency." He added that Hockey Canada staff "plan to contact labour rights groups, including the Workers Rights Consortium in Washington and the Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production, a program enlisted by retailers and manufacturers to certify suppliers are meeting their standards." The move "comes amid increased scrutiny of the international garment industry" (TORONTO STAR, 10/22).