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Volume 20 No. 42
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With K.C. at the bat, sponsors step up as well to boost activation around All-Star events

MLB sponsors are hoping “Everything’s Up to Date in Kansas City.” Coming off an All-Star Game held in the 100-plus-degree temperatures of the Arizona desert, MLB was guaranteed more sponsor activation, but MLB officials say sponsor activity has exceeded expectations.

“It’s a great baseball town, our sponsors are excited, so we’re seeing more activity,” said Lou Koskovolis, senior vice president of corporate sales and sponsorship at Major League Baseball.

Heat issues during last year’s event in Arizona made it an All-Star Game without the usual Charity 5K and Fun Run and sponsor area outside the ballpark, but they both are back. Sponsors of the run include Nike as presenting sponsor, with Bayer and Scotts also participating. The return of the Sponsor Zone outside of Kauffman Stadium, where the game will played July 10, includes a vehicle display and test track from Chevy, which like last year will be one of MLB’s most active sponsors at the midsummer classic, with test-drive signups around the city and sponsorship of the usual red carpet pregame parade of players.

Other activity inside the Sponsor Zone, which will be open Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, with Pepsi Max, Bank of America, Nike, Oakley and Anheuser-Busch offering interactive displays and, in the case of the brewer, appearances by the Budweiser Clydesdales team.

State Farm, sponsor of the Home Run Derby since 2007, is expected to debut baseball-themed creative and is underwriting the construction of five homes in Joplin, Mo., and four in Tuscaloosa, Ala., cities devastated by tornadoes last year. The insurer also will continue its State Farm “Go to Bat” promotional platform, which supports charitable causes and offers a trip to the World Series, said Todd Fischer, State

Sales of Majestic batting practice jerseys in shades of blue have been brisk, MLB’s Howard Smith says.
Photo by: MAJESTIC
Farm’s manager of national sponsorships and media.

MasterCard will again tie its All-Star Game activity to the Stand Up to Cancer cause-related initiative. The payment card, an MLB sponsor since 1997, has been less than active in recent years, but is nonetheless expected to break some baseball-themed creative tied to Stand Up to Cancer.

Pepsi will continue to leverage its “Field of Dreams” promo and is staging a local promo through which a dozen or so fans will win the opportunity to sit inside a luxuriously appointed Pepsi can mockup from Seating Solutions that includes air-conditioned recliners and flat-screen TVs.

Gate premiums from BD&A see State Farm giving all fans branded ticket lanyards at Monday’s Home Run Derby. Taco Bell is offering its version of the same premium to fans attending the All-Star Game. Scotts is doing four local field refurbishments and will have its brand on the grounds crew at Kauffman Stadium, along with its “drag mats.” MLB sponsors advertising in the All-Star Game telecast on Fox include A-B, Chevy, MasterCard, Pepsi, State Farm and Taco Bell.

The MLB FanFest will be Friday through Tuesday at the Kansas City Convention Center, with MLB corporate patrons Bank of America, Firestone and Pepsi titling individual days.

On the licensing side of the house, MLB consumer products chief Howard Smith said that sales of Majestic batting practice jerseys in various shades of blue have been brisk and that the 12,000-square-foot store at FanFest was “like none other” in terms of customization, product selection and strong merchandising on behalf of MLB licensees.

Nike has added some nice spice to the fading interleague rivalry with the “I play for the AL/NL … We Will Win” T-shirts. Meanwhile, VF Licensed Sports Group President Jim Pisani said his company will have Majestic-branded pop-up stores downtown and at the stadium and more than 25 designs of All-Star Game T-shirts.