EMC is close to completing a deal that would see the data storage and IT company become a cornerstone partner by taking naming rights to the lone remaining quadrant at MetLife Stadium.
Sources said terms of the agreement have been agreed upon except for category definitions and other final deal points, but that EMC was likely to take the wraps off the entrance gate agreement during training camp, which opens in late July.
|EMC would join Pepsi, Anheuser-Busch and Verizon with its name on one of MetLife Stadium’s four gates.
EMC would get a technology demonstration platform and pass-through rights along with an important hospitality/client entertainment vehicle with the Super Bowl coming to MetLife Stadium in 2014. EMC is looking to cash in within the sports sector, as even relatively new stadiums and arenas look to upgrade their information technology infrastructure for a generation of fans that count unfettered connectivity as a vital part of their experience in watching a live event.
“Their focus is on client entertainment, especially with a Super Bowl coming, and grabbing a piece of the business they see coming as every sports facility rewires for these new and growing bandwidth requirements,” said a party familiar with the deal.
Wasserman was selling stadium naming rights and the four cornerstone partnerships. However, two sources identified New York Giants CMO Mike Stevens as a key figure in landing the deal. Stevens declined to comment.
Other cornerstone partners at the stadium are Anheuser-Busch, Pepsi and Verizon. MetLife was a cornerstone partner until it acquired the stadium’s naming rights last August.
The stadium gate agreement will easily be the largest sports marketing expenditure for Hopkinton, Mass.-based EMC. However, it is not unfamiliar with the territory. EMC has held naming rights to a premium club at Fenway Park since 2006, and the Red Sox wore an EMC patch on their uniforms when the team played a pair of games in Japan to open the 2008 MLB season. EMC is also the official information infrastructure provider to the New England Patriots and has a suite at Gillette Stadium, and has a similar deal with the Philadelphia Phillies.
As the IT needs of sports facilities become more complex, the competition among providers for sports assets will also. Although the category is still in its infancy when it comes to sports sponsorship, information technology hardware providers like Cisco have been active for some time. IT specialist High Point Solutions in New Jersey acquired naming rights to Rutgers’ refurbished football stadium. Prior to that, High Point was a sponsor of the New Jersey Nets, and it is a major sponsor of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
“Clearly, this [IT] is a business-to-business category, but branding really matters,” said High Point Solutions co-founder and President Mike Mendiburu. “The funny story is that our relationship with the Nets started because my brother lived next to Jason Kidd. Since then, we have really gotten a lot of business out of it, including the Barclays Center, which is one of our largest projects. It gets your name out there and we found that having the use of the facility both for ourselves and our customers was a really effective business driver. It added credibility for us.”
Patrick Cantlay, the top-ranked amateur golfer in the world before he turned pro last week, expects to announce an equipment deal and, perhaps, a non-golf endorsement deal early this week, according to his new agent, Mark Steinberg.
Golf industry sources said Titleist and Callaway Golf were the front-runners to sponsor Cantlay, who signed with Steinberg, a partner at Excel Sports Management and Tiger Woods’ agent, with two years of eligibility left at UCLA.
“We are in discussions with a number of companies,” Steinberg said last week. “No decisions have been made. There are a number of equipment companies that have been extremely interested and passionate with their offers.”
Steinberg said he has been in talks with non-golf companies about an endorsement deal for Cantlay as well. “The interest level in Patrick has exceeded what I had originally thought,” he said.
Steinberg would not name any of the companies in the discussions.
A Titleist official declined to comment.
Nick Raffaele, vice president of sports marketing for Callaway, said the company made an offer to endorse Cantlay and said he believed the golfer’s decision is down to Callaway and Titleist. Raffaele said Callaway only signs players who agree to wear the Callaway logo on their headwear, and the decision could come down to whether Cantlay gets a club deal and a separate corporate sponsor for headwear.
“The thing about Callaway, we don’t carpet bomb,” Raffaele said of Callaway’s philosophy of signing golfers to endorsement deals. “We shoot birds with a rifle, not a shotgun. This year, we think a lot of Dylan Frittelli, Patrick Cantlay and Jordan Spieth, as well as five others, but I don’t think the five others are coming out.”
Frittelli, a senior out of the University of Texas, signed with IMG agent Duncan Reid, who negotiated a deal with Nike Golf last week after talking to Callaway. (Raffaele spoke to SportsBusiness Journal before the Nike deal was officially announced.) Raffaele did not name the other five golfers he was interested in, but underclassmen Justin Thomas of Alabama and Patrick Rodgers of Stanford, along with Spieth, the low amateur in this month’s U.S. Open — and who took over Cantlay’s No. 1 amateur ranking last week — are expected to garner a lot of interest from agents and equipment companies if they turn pro.
The players’ decisions come as changes to PGA Tour rules are ahead. This year is the last year players can go directly to the tour from qualifying school. Next year, under new tour rules, the vast majority of top players will have to spend time on the developmental Nationwide Tour before making it to the PGA Tour.
Pepsi is returning as title sponsor of the Super Bowl halftime show for the next four years. Industry sources said last week that terms had been agreed to but that a deal was not complete.
Driving the deal is Pepsi’s desire to link its sports and music platforms with the biggest sports event in America. The idea is a seasonlong music and sports platform that could be leveraged at retail throughout the season and would culminate in the usual Super Bowl halftime appearance by a major musical act. Since the NFL kicks off its season in New York City this year, Pepsi undoubtedly would be involved in concerts there as well.
While the halftime show sponsorship comes packaged with ads at the beginning and end of the show, Pepsi is a perennial sponsor on what is always America’s highest-rated telecast. Musicians endorsing Pepsi over the years have included Michael Jackson, Christina Aguilera, Ray Charles and Britney Spears. Pepsi has been an NFL sponsor since 2002, and is in the first year of a renewal that makes it an NFL marketing partner for the next 10 years.
|Bridgestone had sponsored the show since 2008, but dropped the deal to focus on year-round activation around its NFL rights.
Pepsi was the last Super Bowl halftime show sponsor prior to Bridgestone, underwriting a memorable 2007 set by Prince in heavy rain in Miami during Super Bowl XLI.
The connection to music follows an industry trend. Rival Coca-Cola is linking the power of music to its International Olympic Committee sponsorship of the London Olympics this summer, with a “Move to the Beat” campaign. The effort, with Katy B and five Olympic athletes, will run in 30 countries. Among Pepsi’s summer music marketing offerings is a Twitter-based campaign that will offer free music downloads. Pepsi also is sponsoring a series of concerts across the country during which the company’s Twitter followers will be able to vote on the set list.
“They always talk about the ‘Power of One’ at Pepsi in combining marketing across snack foods and beverages,” said one marketer with knowledge of the deal. “Along those lines, the concept is combining the power of music and sports. The NFL also wants a music platform to extend their reach into entertainment, so it should be an interesting one to watch and see what develops.”
Of course, the fact that the 2014 Super Bowl is in Pepsi’s headquarters market of New York didn’t hurt, either.
While not involved in the deal, Octagon CEO Rick Dudley said his client base, traditionally oriented toward sports marketing, is increasingly looking to music and entertainment.
“Brands are looking to manage their sponsorship portfolios so they have sports along with music and entertainment,” said Dudley, noting Octagon is hosting an entertainment marketing conference for clients this week in Los Angeles. “Entertainment and music is about 30 percent of what we do now, and I can see it getting to 40 percent soon. It’s all about creating content platforms to tie into consumer passion points.”
Four years after it signed a late agreement to sponsor USA Basketball prior to the Beijing Games, 24 Hour Fitness has cut a similar agreement ahead of the London Games.
The deal is a one-year agreement that makes 24 Hour Fitness, which is a sponsor of the U.S. Olympic Committee, the official fitness center of USA Basketball.
Financial terms weren’t disclosed.
“If you ask our team members, they’re excited about our partnership with the U.S. Olympic team, but the USA Basketball affiliation was something our front-line employees were continuously asking about,” said Carl Liebert, CEO of 24 Hour Fitness. “The other side of this is our members love it.”
The deal is the 14th sponsorship signed by USA Basketball, which is marketed by the NBA. There is no player involvement in the company’s activation plans as USA Basketball winds down its sales efforts before the London Games.
“We have a few more deals in the pipeline, but the gap is closing pretty quickly,” said Jim Tooley, CEO of USA Basketball. “There may be a couple of smaller deals out there.”
Liebert played basketball at the Naval Academy. The team lost to Duke in the 1986 NCAA tournament, and he has known Duke and USA Basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski for years.
24 Hour Fitness’ sponsorship of the USOC is up for renewal, and Liebert said he hopes that he will be able to announce a renewal with Team USA shortly.