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Volume 26 No. 208
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Duke's Mayo Lands Naming Rights To Charlotte CFB Games

The Charlotte Sports Foundation today announced that Duke’s Mayonnaise is the new title sponsor of the regular season college football game and postseason bowl game played in Charlotte, beginning with this year’s games. The Duke’s Mayo Classic is scheduled for Sept. 26 between Notre Dame and Wake Forest, while the Duke’s Mayo Bowl will take place this bowl season on a date to be determined. Financial terms of the multiyear agreement were not disclosed. Charlotte Sports Foundation Exec Dir Danny Morrison, whose nonprofit operates the kickoff and bowl games, took the lead in negotiations for the foundation but called the deal a “team effort,” with Charlotte-based agencies LGA, Bespoke, Yoho Creative and Littlefield assisting. Sauer Brands President, CEO & Board Dir Martin Kelly and CMO Tom Barbitta led negotiations on behalf of the Carolinas-founded mayonnaise brand. Future Duke’s Mayo Classic games scheduled include East Carolina-Appalachian State and Georgia-Clemson in ’21, and South Carolina-North Carolina in ’23. Duke’s replaces Southern lifestyle retailer Belk as the games’ title sponsor.

A GOOD FIT: Morrison indicated five potential brands expressed “serious interest” for the rights but declined to name any. Duke’s emerged as a contender in March when GRP Media President Bob Porcaro called Morrison to inform him of Duke’s’ interest in partnering with a high-profile bowl in the South, specifically in the Carolinas. Morrison: “Here was an opportunity to make a bold move with a title partnership. It was logical and it provides a platform for tremendous national visibility for Duke’s Mayonnaise as well as reaffirmation of their core in the Southeast.” Morrison also said Kelly and Barbitta are “very passionate about the fact that, here we are in a pandemic, and then the industry that’s getting hurt the most is the hospitality and tourism industry, so to be able to make an announcement in this environment was important to Duke’s Mayonnaise because they wanted to do something that would be helpful.”

PANDEMIC PROCESSES: Morrison, the former NFL Panthers president and Wofford AD, also provided perspective on negotiating a deal like this amid a global pandemic. “Certainly much different in a pandemic setting,” he said. Morrison: “We did everything by phone or Zoom calls, so that’s unusual to not be meeting in person. The other element is the uncertainty of this year’s college football season.” On how that uncertainty might affect terms of the deal if the CFB season is delayed or canceled, Morrison said, “The key word there is fairness. If there was cancellation, then the two parties would work together to come to a good conclusion. The key word is ‘fair’ when you have a partnership.”