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Volume 21 No. 1

Marketing and Sponsorship

Notre Dame has signed Sprint to be the presenting sponsor of its game against Maryland at FedEx Field this season, marking the first time the school has sold a presenting position on its annual neutral-site contest.

The Fighting Irish have been playing a neutral-site game each year since 2009, when they faced Washington State in San Antonio. Notre Dame took on Army last year in the first college football game in Yankee Stadium.

But Notre Dame Sports Properties, the multimedia and marketing arm of the university, wasn’t selling presenting sponsorships to those games. It wasn’t until last summer that Scott Correira, the president and general manager of the property, suggested that a presenting sponsorship for the game would be a unique addition to the school’s inventory.

Correira liked the idea of giving a sponsor the opportunity to activate in a market outside of South Bend, Ind., where the school is based. The pro stadiums where the neutral-site games are being played also give Notre Dame more flexibility to promote a top sponsor with signage and air time on the video board. Notre Dame Stadium does not have a video board.

Other Team Notre Dame members — the highest level of sponsorship the school offers — will have some limited activation opportunities, such as hospitality and lighter exposure on the video board. The Team Notre Dame sponsors, in addition to Sprint, are Gatorade, Coca-Cola, Adidas, Xerox and McDonald’s.

“One of the big things we promote about being a partner with Notre Dame is the national platform we offer,” Correira said. “Now we’re able to take a sponsor into new markets that weren’t previously available.”

Sprint, whose CEO, Dan Hesse, graduated from Notre Dame, was well into discussions about a Team Notre Dame sponsorship last year when the Irish added the presenting sponsorship to the mix. The agreement was made in time for both sides to roll the presenting sponsorship into the same deal as the Team Notre Dame sponsorship. The deal wasn’t done in time for the 2010 season, so this year’s game became the first presenting deal. Hesse has said that Sprint’s target market is shifting in the direction of college students.

Sprint agreed to a two-year deal on the neutral-site games that include the Nov. 12 contest against Maryland at FedEx Field and next year’s Oct. 6 game against Miami at Chicago’s Soldier Field. Both games will be broadcast by the Irish’s network partner, NBC.

“We’re partnering with a national brand that is synonymous with excellence, and this enables us to extend the reach of our exclusive marketing agreement into two major markets, D.C. and Chicago,” wrote Tim Considine, Sprint’s director of marketing and sports sponsorship, in an email.

The administration of those games will be treated like a home game for Notre Dame, so it will be able to offer a full package of assets, including hospitality, significant mentions on the video board and public address announcements, and placement of the logo on tickets, communications and any other game-related collateral. The Irish do not sell presenting sponsorships for their games in South Bend.

Terms of the deal were not available, but Team Notre Dame sponsors typically spend in the low to mid-seven figures combined for sponsorship with the school and required advertising spending on NBC.

Hope Solo will join Gatorade’s powerful promotional arsenal after signing a multiyear marketing deal with the beverage company.

The Gatorade deal marks the second major endorsement for the standout goalie who helped the U.S. women’s national team finish second in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Earlier this month, she joined teammates Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan in signing one-year deals with Bank of America.

U.S. women’s goalkeeper Hope Solo saw her awareness number soar during the Women’s World Cup.
A Gatorade representative would not reveal how they intend to use the 30-year-old Solo in the company’s marketing, confirming only that Solo is part of Gatorade’s push to diversify its athlete base. The company recently signed deals with U.S. men’s goalie Tim Howard, swimmer Ryan Lochte and female surfer Coco Ho.

Industry sources peg the deal in the low six-figure range per year.

Richard Motzkin of Wasserman Media Group, who has represented Solo for 10 years, said he and Gatorade began discussing a possible deal before the World Cup started, but he described interest in her after the World Cup as “staggering.” He hinted that more individual deals are on the horizon, but would not discuss details.

“Being on the cover of Sports Illustrated helped her awareness with the general public,” Motzkin said. “She has an opportunity to become well-known not just in the soccer scene, but in the public mainstream as well.”

Motzkin said that Solo’s followers on Twitter jumped from 8,000 to more than 250,000 in little over a week, and compared Solo’s surge in popularity to that of former U.S. midfielder Mia Hamm, who rose to prominence after the U.S. women won the 1999 World Cup.

Of the national team players, Solo, Wambach and Morgan have garnered the most mainstream attention in the wake of the team’s loss to Japan in the World Cup finals. Wambach and Solo appeared on the “Late Show” with David Letterman, and Solo and Morgan attended the New York City premiere for the final season of the hit HBO show “Entourage.” The three inked one-year deals with Bank of America to serve as spokeswomen for a charity surrounding the Chicago Marathon.

Gatorade has sponsored the U.S. women’s national team since 1999, and has had an individual deal with Wambach since 2004.

Bill Glenn, senior vice president of marketing and strategies with The Marketing Arm, said Solo’s marketing numbers on its Davie Brown Index (DBI) put her on par with Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade. According to Glenn’s research, Solo’s overall awareness jumped from 21.4 percent to 28.0 percent in the period between the team’s quarterfinals victory over Brazil and its loss to Japan. However, her endorsement value dropped from a score of 72.3 to 66.7 during that period.

“You could summarize that the loss did have an impact on how consumers view [Solo] in key attributes like aspiration and influence,” Glenn said. “But as they gain more exposure, I wouldn’t say [the loss] will significantly affect her marketing.”

Doug Shabelman, president of Burns Entertainment, said Solo’s combination of leadership, success on the field, physical attractiveness and a recognizable name give her an opportunity to maintain marketability after attention in women’s soccer cools. “She’s the goalie, which is a showcase in individualism,” Shabelman said. “It sets her up nicely to be a spokesperson or follow up with a career in broadcasting.”

Solo is continuing to play for the WPS magicJack team in South Florida.

When executives from Tecate heard that Golden Boy Promotions had matched Floyd Mayweather against breakout star Victor Ortiz during Mexican Independence week in Las Vegas, they responded with an idea that would magnify the fight’s impact in their most important market, Southern California.

They would plan a concert for a 5,000- to 6,000-seat venue in Los Angeles, air the pay-per-view telecast there, and either give away or discount tickets as part of a massive retail promotion.

Last year, Tecate held a fan fest leading up to a fight between Shane Mosley and Sergio Mora.
Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer suggested something even larger: A Staples Center fight featuring rising Mexican star Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, followed by Mayweather-Ortiz shown on the arena’s video screens, all wrapped in a festival featuring two well-known Mexican music acts. Fans in Vegas would see the Alvarez fight on screens at the MGM Grand. Pay-per-view buyers and closed circuit viewers would get both.

The Mexican brewery jumped at the idea, agreeing to run its typical national retail promotion around the Vegas fight, but also launching its largest program ever in Southern California. So did HBO, agreeing to seat broadcast crews at both fights, something it has never done for a pay-per-view. And so did Staples Center owner AEG, which liked the idea of an Alvarez fight, paired with a Mexican-themed music event, backed by the marketing support of Tecate.

“With Los Angeles now more than half Hispanic, this is an important date here,” Schaefer said. “Having that date, having the right fighter, having the right sponsor partners, led by Tecate, which are going to put together a Southern California activation which is unheard of . . . . You will see, this is going to be most heavily promoted boxing event of all time.”

In many ways, Mayweather’s Sept. 17 fight against Ortiz is an ideal peg for Tecate’s annual blowout promotion celebrating Mexican Independence Day. Mayweather remains the sport’s most-watched fighter. Ortiz is a breakout star of Mexican descent.

The one shortcoming, from the sponsor’s perspective, is that in order to generate a large enough purse for Mayweather, promoter Golden Boy must put the fight in Las Vegas, where higher ticket prices will generate a larger gate. While a Vegas fight is ideal for entertaining, Tecate’s retail promotion likely will generate higher sales, more trials and greater conversion when built around a fight in Southern California, which accounts for about 35 percent of its U.S. business.

“Our first thought was, why don’t we make the Mayweather fight in L.A.?” said Felix Palau, vice president of marketing for Tecate. “But when you do the economics, it’s very difficult for L.A. to compete. That’s when this new idea came up. Let’s make another fight in L.A. That increases the ability to promote a bigger concept locally. We’re taking that and putting it on top of what we already do nationally to make a really big event.”

Tecate has committed to supporting the promotion with more than $800,000 in radio, TV and outdoor advertising in Southern California alone.

For the first time, Tecate will extend its popular rebate program — long a cornerstone of the pay-per-view events it sponsors — to a live event, offering coupons redeemable for a $20 rebate on qualifying ticket purchases for the fight and concert at Staples. The rebate will be featured at promotional displays in 10,000 grocery outlets and liquor stores across Southern California.

It also will run its usual national promotion, with coupons for rebates up to $20 on the pay-per-view available in about 8,000 stores nationally.