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Volume 21 No. 1

Marketing and Sponsorship

Just two months after announcing plans to open the 2011 Dew Tour in Ocean City, Md., the action sports property has signed cellphone manufacturer Pantech as the event’s title sponsor.

The one-year deal is Pantech’s first national sponsorship, and the brand plans to use it to promote its new line of Android phones available through AT&T. Dew Tour title partners typically pay $2 million to $3 million a year for sponsorships. The deal includes on-site activation rights, event signage, rights to use the tour’s logo and marks, and more than 100 commercials across 40 hours of programming on NBC, USA Network and MTV2. It also can pass through rights to one of its biggest wireless partners, AT&T.

“We’ve never done anything this large,” said Erin Magee, director of channel marketing at Pantech. “We know that we play really well with the youth segment, and we want to find a really unique, interesting way to reach out to those customers now that those customers aren’t really moved by traditional advertising.”

Pantech is a subsidiary of Korea-based Pantech Group. It claims $2 billion in total revenue and manufactures phones for AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel and Virgin Mobile.

The company’s deal with the Dew Tour comes less than six months after Verizon ended its partnership with the action sports property. Verizon had been the tour’s wireless partner since its inception in 2005. As part of that deal, the wireless provider was able to promote hardware phones it carried at its outlet.

The end of that deal opened the phone manufacturer category for Alli Sports, which organizes the Dew Tour. Alli Sports President Wade Martin believes the one-year deal will develop into a long-term partnership.

“We’re confident we can show enough success in the program that it will continue for the long haul,” Martin said. “Their interest in the property was in a multi-pronged [marketing] approach, and those are the types we have success with.”

The deal gives the Dew Tour, which will have four stops in 2011, its second title partner. Toyota is the title sponsor of a September stop in Salt Lake City. Alli officials are looking for a sponsor for the August date in Portland. They don’t plan to have a title sponsor for the October event in Las Vegas, which will be known as the Dew Tour Championships.

The tour-opening Ocean City, Md., stop is scheduled for July 21-24.

Martin said the tour is looking to find partners in the health and beauty, quick-service restaurant, snack food, and candy and gum categories. It currently has deals with Mountain Dew, Toyota, Ball Park brand hot dogs, JCPenney, MasterCard’s MyPlash brand, Nike 6.0, PowerBar and Sony.

Terry Lefton
JPMorgan Chase has added payment card rights to the massive marquee partnership rights deal it signed with Madison Square Garden last September. Sources told us that the deal was signed earlier this month, and Garden officials met with American Express marketers before SportsBusiness Journal’s Sports Business Awards dinner in New York recently to tell them that their last offer was not sufficient.

While it may have been implicit, as of press time, MSG had not told AmEx officials that Chase was displacing their company.

One source with knowledge of the Chase deal said that it raised the average annual value of the Chase-MSG partnership to $40 million per year.

The financial services giant, one of the nation’s largest payment card issuers, thus adds those rights to the earlier deal, which was across all MSG-controlled traditional and digital media and venues, including the Garden itself, the Theater at Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall and the Beacon Theatre, as well as MSG’s teams, including the Knicks and Rangers, and events like the Radio City Christmas show.

American Express is one of MSG’s largest sponsors and one of its longest-tenured commercial affiliates. There will be a lame-duck period, since AmEx’s MSG rights expire at the end of 2011. Thus, AmEx will go from one of MSG’s biggest spenders to nothing in less than 18 months.

What’s next for AmEx in the sponsorship space is one of the most compelling aspects of this story. There has long been concern within AmEx about the appropriate mix of sports and entertainment assets, and the elimination of its priciest sponsorship should elevate those conversations. If AmEx’s latest NBA sponsorship deal is any guideline, then access, tickets and cardholder events are priorities for any new deal.

It also will be interesting to see what Chase can do with virtually unlimited marketing rights within what MSG immodestly calls “the world’s most famous arena,” not to mention the associated media and venue assets. Industry sources said Chase has been casting about for a sponsorship/marketing chief to implement its pricey investment at MSG. Once that person is hired, he or she will be based at the Chase branch immediately adjacent to MSG, at 2 Pennsylvania Plaza. We’ll be interested to see if proximity fosters marketing acumen.

Jose Bautista made the sponsor rounds while in NYC.
WINGING IT: With 54 home runs last year and this season’s total at 19 at press time, Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista is making a name for himself on the field. Now, marketing agent Alex Radetsky is going to see how national he can make a slugger who happens to play in Toronto.

Radetsky’s Radegen Sports Management was escorting Bautista around Manhattan last week while the Jays were in town to play the Yankees. Radetsky said he expects Bautista to swing in this year’s Home Run Derby on the night before the MLB All-Star Game in Phoenix.

Bautista has endemic deals with New Balance for footwear, Franklin for batting gloves and Wilson for fielding gloves. All those deals are up after this season, so it will be interesting to see what a head-to-toe apparel/equipment deal could be worth to a brand looking to lock up the slugger, currently on pace to break the pre-steroid home run record. Radetsky also says he’s close to an exclusive memorabilia deal for Bautista.

FARMED OUT: Kevin Kelso, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Farmers Insurance and one of the company execs most closely identified with the recent naming-rights deal for a yet-unbuilt stadium in downtown Los Angles, has quietly left the insurer, where he’d worked since 1999. No immediate word on what caused Kelso’s exit.

Terry Lefton can be reached at