The WNBA tips off its ‘14 season on Friday night backed by a new “WNBA Summer Hoops” marketing campaign aiming to drive interest in the league during the summer months. Each of the league’s 12 teams will conduct local activations to participate in the league-wide campaign. The marketing effort includes initiatives around Memorial Day, Fathers Day, and July 4 to help boost league-wide attendance that last season averaged 7,531 fans per game, up 1% from '12. New for the WNBA this year is Samsung sponsoring the league’s player performance awards, including players of the month, rookie of the month and year-end awards. The league did not have a sponsor for those awards last year. The WNBA also begins its 18th season with the Sparks franchise under new ownership with a group led by Basketball HOFer Magic Johnson and Dodgers Chair Mark Walter.
Marketing and Sponsorship
Minor League Baseball on Thursday announced that it has signed its first national sponsorship agreement with Pep Boys. The promotional elements, focused on Pep Boys' "Trust the Boys to get you there" theme, will be activated in targeted MiLB markets and clubs across the country this season with opportunities for league-wide expansion in future years. Pep Boys will be a "proud partner" of each participating club and activate various in-stadium elements from April through the beginning of September including, signage, on-field promotional activities, video board messaging, public address announcements, print advertisements and couponing (MiLB).
AD AGE's Michael McCarthy reported Oakley named Eleven, S.F., its new ad agency "after a review that initially included more than 15 shops." Oakley "was handling marketing in-house from its corporate campus and design center." Meanwhile, the company "suspended its athletic sponsorship" of South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius amid his murder trial (ADAGE.com, 5/15).
BIGGER & BETTER: In Cincinnati, Dave Clark noted Reds 2B Brandon Phillips was among several MLBers "included in the Baseball is Better campaign" for the launch of the "MLB 14 The Show" video game. The campaign also includes Blue Jays 3B Brett Lawrie, Tigers 1B Miguel Cabrera, Yankees P CC Sabathia, Pirates CF Andrew McCutchen and Braves RF Jason Heyward (CINCINNATI.com, 5/15).
SUDDEN IMPACT: USA TODAY's Nancy Armour in a sports-page cover story writes while gov't agencies "monitor the safety and effectiveness of food, drugs and automobiles, there's no such group keeping an eye on football or the increasing number of add-on products." Manufacturers "can make any claim they want about the effectiveness of their product and, unless they run afoul of the Federal Trade Commission's ad police, there's little to stop them." Warnings "pale in comparison to the claims of what the products can do" (USA TODAY, 5/16).