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Volume 24 No. 154

Marketing and Sponsorship

NFL Players Inc. and Panini America announced Thursday that they have entered into an exclusive long-term agreement that will make Panini America the sole manufacturer of NFLPA-licensed trading cards and collectible stickers, beginning with the '16 NFL season. Panini has exclusive deals with NFLPI, NBA and FIFA World Cup (NFLPA).'s Darren Rovell noted the deal will "further consolidate the sports card market." Topps currently is "the sole licensee" of MLB cards, and Upper Deck "maintains exclusive rights to NHL trading cards." Panini America CEO Mark Warsop said that he "believes the football card market topped the baseball card market for the first time" in '12 and "will do so again" in '14. Panini and Topps under the previous deal with the NFL were "allowed to have 17 releases a year." Warsop said that the new exclusive deal "would allow them to expand their number of offerings as well as participate in out-of-the-box ideas that the company couldn't do in a competitive environment." Warsop: "I want to get kids back to collecting sets again. And if that means that we could have a product whose packs sell for 50 cents, and make no money on it, to grow the category, we can now do that." NFLPI President Keith Gordon said that the time "was right to go down to one partner." Gordon: "We're the last of the leagues to do this and we feel like, after a correction from consolidation, the business will grow" (, 7/31). See the full business portfolio of Panini America at Resource Guide LIVE.

Ripken Baseball has signed a long-term extension of its existing partnership with Under Armour that takes the deal through ’18. In the new term, UA will gain naming rights to The Ripken Experience youth baseball complex in Aberdeen, Md., as well as the Ripken Baseball Virtual Academy. The two companies will also collaborate to present the first annual Under Armour Futures Game of elite 12-year-old baseball players on Aug. 16 prior to the title game of the annual Cal Ripken World Series. “For us, this partnership is sort of a no-brainer given how integral Under Armour has become in the sports experience right from the elite pro down to the youth player,” said Ripken Baseball co-Chair & Founder Cal Ripken Jr. "My dad was sort of an old-school instructor but (brother and Ripken Baseball co-Chair) Billy and I are continuing to look at ways to expand and new ways to use technology, and these guys are the perfect brand to align with.” Financial terms for the new deal were not disclosed. The new assets will include The Ripken Experience Aberdeen Powered by Under Armour, the Ripken Baseball Virtual Academy Powered by Under Armour, and the Under Armour Futures Game. “Working with Ripken Baseball has given a really great grassroots platform and an association with a name that’s synonymous with baseball,” said UA Exec VP/Global Marketing Matt Mirchin. “This really a situation where one plus one equals three. This extension did not require a lengthy negotiation.”

Rutgers Univ. has "reached agreements on the two biggest sponsorship deals in school history -- five-year contracts with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital and AmeriHealth New Jersey that are worth" more than $5M combined, according to sources cited by Tom Bergeron of The deals "are exclusive, meaning the companies will be the only ones in their industry to partner with the university." In addition, both Robert Wood Johnson and AmeriHealth "will be given naming rights at a main gate to High Point Solutions Stadium, among other opportunities." The deals are "just two of more than two dozen sponsorships IMG has secured for Rutgers" (, 7/31).

COKE IS IT! In Georgia, Al Hackle noted Coca-Cola and Georgia Southern Univ. on Thursday "announced a 10-year, multimillion-dollar continuation of Coke's exclusive marketing deal on campus and for Eagles athletics." GSU President Brooks Keel said that the school's move into the FBS and the Sun Belt Conference has "multiplied the value of the marketing agreement about tenfold." The school said that Coca-Cola under the agreement will "develop customized, football-related marketing to expand Georgia Southern's brand recognition in the Savannah and Atlanta markets." Meanwhile, the university "has to give the company some free event tickets" (, 7/31). In Savannah, Donald Heath notes GSU since its conference switch has been "looking for additional revenue sources." The athletic budget has increased by about $4M to a total of $16M for the '14-15 athletic year. The school will "have two Thursday night home games televised on ESPNU," and any signage shown during those games "will get national attention" (SAVANNAH MORNING NEWS, 8/1).

More than 2,600 Chevron and Texaco locations in the western U.S. are supporting the gasoline and convenience store chain's Game Day Chef Challenge, which begins Friday and ties into many of the merchant's football sponsorships. In the cooking competition, contestants in Arizona, California, Oregon or Washington must use at least one ingredient purchased at a Chevron or Texaco in a recipe. A cookoff at the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1 will decide the winner, who will get a $25,000 gas card. Media support includes digital advertising and various media obtained through sponsorships with the NFL Cardinals and Seahawks, as well as USC, Stanford, Oregon and Oregon State. AdSport, Phoenix, is handling the creative.