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Volume 23 No. 8
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Branded Seats lands contract to install Pepsi-branded cup holders at Kauffman Stadium

The Kansas City Royals have signed a deal with a cup holder maker to install 1,000 new Pepsi-branded displays for the MLB All-Star Game.

Branded Seats, a 1-year-old company founded by Phoenix graphic designer Shad Bruce, produces a cup holder retrofit to display sponsors’ brands. The flexibility of the design allows teams to insert multiple logos and messages into the cup holders through the course of the season.

The Royals are the first client for Branded Seats, which in addition to cup holders offers seat-back displays.
For the All-Star Game, July 10 at Kauffman Stadium, the Royals are installing the new cup holders in the Diamond Club Box and Diamond Club Seats behind home plate, said Mike Bucek, the team’s vice president of marketing and business development. A mix of Royals season-ticket holders and MLB sponsors will be sitting in those seats for the All-Star Game.

The Royals are paying Branded Seats a fee for the installation, but Bucek would not discuss specific terms.

Pepsi holds the ballpark’s pouring rights, and the deal with Branded Seats was driven by the team’s need to make improvements for the All-Star Game. It is not tied to MLB’s leaguewide agreement with Pepsi, Bucek said.

“We have had cup holders in the loge and our lower bowl sections for 10 years plus, prior to the renovation, with standard decals and dated Pepsi branding,” he said. “This seemed to be more convenient.”

Branded Seats’ marketing pitch is that its product snaps easily in place over existing cup holders in a tamper-resistant manner, thus eliminating the need to apply and remove stickers, a process that can be difficult and time consuming.

Bruce, a principal and creative director at DD&F, a firm that developed the Miller Lite Diamond Club and the kids zone at Chase Field for the Arizona Diamondbacks, designed the cup holder retrofit.

The Royals are Branded Seats’ first client, and Bruce plans to install the cup holders himself in early July with assistance from Scott Brubaker, the firm’s vice president of business development. It should take them eight to nine hours to complete the job, Bruce said.

By comparison, if the Royals were to use razors to remove hundreds of old stickers and adhesive residue, it could take days to complete the task, resulting in higher labor costs, according to Bucek.

Since introducing its new product last summer, Branded Seats has developed a rectangular-shaped seat-back display that is interchangeable with the cup holder unit. In August, the vendor will install 1,225 seat-back displays on those same seats as well as on the BATS Crown Club seats.

As part of the deal, an additional 5,000 seat-back displays will be installed at Kauffman Stadium before the 2013 season.

The Royals plan to activate the seat-back displays with branding for BATS, the stock exchange and sponsor of the Crown Club, as well as institutional branding with and MLB At Bat to drive more activity to the team’s in-park mobile application, Bucek said.

For the All-Star Game, Branded Seats officials will randomly print QR codes on about 20 cup holders, which when scanned with a mobile device will take fans to the company’s website.

As of last week, the Royals were studying the possibility of printing their own QR code on the cup holders, Bucek said.