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Volume 20 No. 41

Marketing and Sponsorship

It’s safe to say that the mop and broom category is relatively untapped in the college space, but the Big Ten has found a solution for at least one Midwestern company that sought exposure during basketball timeouts.

Through a groundbreaking sponsorship deal with Learfield Sports, the Big Ten’s multimedia rights holder, Illinois-based Libman Co. will have branded mops cleaning the hardwood floors and ballboys wearing Libman T-shirts during Big Ten basketball games. Libman’s deal runs across all 12 conference schools and championship events, marking the first time that a sponsor has been able to buy rights to the schools and the league in the same deal.

Conference sponsorships normally only carry the rights to its championship events, while schools sell their own rights through their multimedia rights holder.

“This is the first time we’ve ever done all 12 schools, plus the conference piece,” said Scott Bailey, Learfield’s general manager for the Big Ten property. “We reached out to all 12 schools to make sure there weren’t any conflicts, and there weren’t. Then we could put together a consistent program across the board.”

Libman’s traditional product line has included mops and brooms since the private family company was founded in 1896. In the past year, however, Libman has moved into cleaning products and chemicals, and the sponsorship will help the company to promote the new line.

Libman will launch a sweepstakes next month with Menards to coincide with the start of the college basketball season, with the winners receiving VIP trips to the Big Ten tournament in Chicago.

The company also will have courtside and arena signage, and public-address announcements, as well as the visibility that will come with the T-shirts on the ballboys and the branded mops.

Libman’s designation will be the official hardwood floor-care provider of the Big Ten.

“We were trying to find a way to give our new product line some credibility and to put a strong name behind it. That’s where the Big Ten came in,” said Andrew Libman, a fourth-generation co-owner of the family business. “We’ve found it difficult to get into sports because our target demo is women 25-54. Now we’re broadening that out to target more men and women on the consumer as well as the commercial side. … Our products are made for hardwood floors, so a basketball deal made sense.”

Learfield and Libman began talks more than two years ago, but couldn’t reach terms. But with Libman launching the new product line and Learfield able to aggregate rights for the conference and all 12 schools, both sides came together on a deal that’s estimated to run mid-to-high six figures annually.

Eight of the 12 Big Ten school properties are operated by Learfield, so it was easy for Bailey to clear the assets there. Three other schools — Michigan, Ohio State and Nebraska — are IMG College schools and they agreed to work with Learfield to bring Libman on campus there. Michigan State, one of the few remaining schools that runs its marketing and media in-house, agreed as well, giving Libman rights across the entire conference.

Each school property will receive a share of revenue from the deal.

Libman is working with the basketball programs around the conference to specially design mops for the games.

The NBA surprised the trading card industry in 2009 when it signed a virtual unknown brand in Panini while dropping two household names in Topps and Upper Deck. At the time, Panini had no U.S. offices nor staff. However, the deal has been successful enough that it’s been extended for another five years, through the 2016-17 NBA season.

“The NBA was our foothold here,’’ said Panini America CEO Mark Warsop, “but since our first full year in the U.S. [2010], overall sales have grown threefold, even with some labor unrest across sports.’’

The renewal underscores the investments that the Italian company has made since entering the North American market in mid-2009. Since then, Panini started selling NBA cards and stickers in 40 countries, and has acquired NFL/NFLPA rights with its acquisition of Donruss, NHL/NHLPA rights, MLBPA rights and premier athletes’ rights, including Kobe Bryant, Andrew Luck and Kevin Durant.

Overall, Panini has signed more than 5,300 total player contracts across all four big stick-and-ball sports totaling more than $50 million in endorsements, rights and memorabilia deals.

“The trading card market has changed considerably over the last five to 10 years and we felt that the investments necessary to find growth in that market here, and especially globally, were something only Panini could do,” said Sal LaRocca, NBA executive vice president of global merchandising.

Under its new NBA deal, Panini has expanded global rights, allowing it, for example, to sell a Chinese-language version of NBA cards in the world’s most populous country. It can also issue as many as 25 annual NBA releases; this season it will have 22.

In a trading card market devastated by saturation, the two domestic survivors are Panini and Topps. The former has deep pockets and access to global markets. Topps, headed by former Disney chief Michael Eisner and owned by a private equity firm, has had an exclusive license since 2009 with MLB — the keys to the kingdom in the trading card business.

Colin Hagen, who once ran the trading card businesses for the NFL and MLB, said the market is still recovering from over-proliferation. “In 2005, the four MLB licenses produced 270 separate Alex Rodriguez cards,” said Hagen, who now heads Alchemy Marketing, Weston, Conn. “With exclusives, the business has readjusted. There will always be a market there, just not as big as it was.”

The NBA begins the 2012-13 season this week with changes in its leaguewide sponsorship lineup.

Out as league partners are Right Guard and Haier; in is German software maker SAP, which begins its first season as a league partner. In addition, 2K Sports has increased its spend with the NBA. It moves from being a promotional partner to a full league sponsor as it boosts marketing efforts behind its “NBA 2K13” video game.

2K Sports will move up from promotional partner to a full league sponsor.
State Farm Insurance, whose deal was up for renewal this summer, was close to re-signing last week, sources said, but it was unknown if a deal would come in time for the start of the season. State Farm has been a league sponsor since 2010.

Departing sponsor Right Guard, which had been one of the more active NBA partners, exits after four years. Consumer appliance maker Haier had been a league sponsor since 2006. Among Haier’s activations was title sponsorship of the Shooting Stars competition during the All-Star Weekend.

“Across consumer electronics, the entire landscape has changed,” said Emilio Collins, senior vice president of global marketing partnerships for the NBA.

As for a Right Guard replacement? “We are weighing broader opportunities in the personal-care category,” Collins said.
Sources said the NBA has had preliminary talks with Unilever about a larger health and beauty aids deal, a la Procter & Gamble’s sponsorships with the Olympics and the NFL.

SAP, the NBA’s newest sponsor, gets the official business analytics software designation and will activate with its Hana platform to provide new, highly detailed statistical information on SAP signed its NBA deal in July.

“We will be rolling out after the start of the season a new statistical application to get a lot of in-depth analysis,” Collins said.

Along with securing SAP and 2K Sports as full partners, the NBA this offseason signed a multiyear extension with Kia Motors. The carmaker will continue its sponsorship of the official NBA season-opening platform, Kia NBA Tip-Off ’12.
Other significant activations among NBA partners set for this season include:

Sprite’s Uncontainable Game sweepstakes, which will culminate at this season’s All-Star Weekend with fans playing on teams led by Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.

Sprint will activate around its NBA GameTime mobile application that gives fans access to live game action, scores and highlights. Like last season, Sprint also is presenting sponsor of the NBA’s All-Star balloting. This season’s All-Star Game is Feb. 17 in Houston.

Staff writer Terry Lefton contributed to this report.

The ING New York City Marathon takes place Sunday and sponsor activation is running alongside the race.

With a new strategy emphasizing broader programs, total sponsorship commitments year-to-year are up 21 percent, while sponsor revenue has increased 17 percent and activation is more extensive.

The marathon is also in the first year of a new five-year deal with ESPN that has it appearing on live national TV (ESPN2) for the first time since 1993, requiring additional sponsor support. The marathon annually draws 45,000 runners and millions of live spectators.

“Our goals were to get deeper sponsor relationships across our events year round along with more activation and we’re achieving that,” said Ann Wells Crandall, New York Road Runners executive vice president of business development and strategic partnerships. “Running is an everyday thing and so we’re trying to match that with our sponsor support.”

Of the top-level principal sponsors renewed this year, Tata Consultancy Services’ agreement takes them though 2014 and will combine marathon support with that of the NYC Half Marathon that will be run on St. Patrick’s Day. The IT specialist is presenting sponsor of a lounge at the Time Warner Center that will feature an interactive marathon course running experience and green screen photography with social media posting capabilities.

Hospital for Special Surgery renewed for 2012 and 2013, and the medical unit will sponsor Sunday’s race, along with rights across the NYC Half Marathon and the New York Mini, an all-women’s 10K event in June. It is also providing content to the NYRR website, and the day after the marathon it stages a marathon recovery clinic.

Nissan, pushing its Pathfinder SUV, which is the lead vehicle in the race, is in for another two years and extends its presenting sponsorship of the NYRR’s Fifth Avenue Mile event in September with a Fifth Avenue Mile Experience on upper Fifth Avenue.

Asics’ recent extension of the marathon’s footwear and apparel rights takes it through 2016 and includes year-round support of numerous NYRR events and programs. Asics will continue with its 20,000-square-foot store at the Marathon Expo in the Jacob Javits Center, a massive ad display at the Columbus Circle subway station, and its “Support Your Marathoner” effort.

United Airlines, one of the event’s longest-tenured sponsors at more than 18 years, extended for an additional two years. It’s also supporting the NYC Half Marathon, along with Marathon Opening Day in April.

Title sponsor ING supports with a “Runners Nation” community on Facebook and Twitter that allows runners to connect on training and other issues. Offline, a “Runners Nation On the Go” vehicle will provide runner support at various locations.

Subway is in its third year as the marathon’s “official training restaurant.” Whitney Phelps, sister of Olympic swimmer and Subway endorser Michael, will be running this year’s race. Hilary Phelps, another sister, is running the “Dash to the Finish” 5K race the day before, along with Subway spokesman Jared Fogle.

Timex, touting its Ironman Run Trainer watch, sponsors “All My Children” actor and “Dancing With the Stars” champion J.R. Martinez’s marathon efforts. Martinez will start in the back of the race pack and Timex will donate $1 to the NYRR youth program for every runner he passes.

For those more interested in eating and drinking than running 26 miles, Coors Light stages parties on Sunday across Manhattan. Dunkin’ Donuts, which supplies around 50,000 cups of coffee during the race, also distributes thousands of co-branded fleece caps in-store and to spectators on race day. Grana Padano Cheese, a marathon sponsor since 2009, continues its Race Week Cheese Tour, with tastings at food stores across the city. Meanwhile, pretzel maker Snyder’s of Hanover has a sweepstakes offering Asics running gear and a custom training regimen as top prizes.

With 26 billion-dollar brands, Procter & Gamble’s influence is felt across consumer marketing. Now, having built up its sports sponsorship portfolio in recent years, P&G is exerting influence in that world as well, through ties to top-shelf properties and athletes. Marc Pritchard, P&G’s global marketing and brand building officer, spoke with SBJ Editor-at-Large Terry Lefton during the recent ANA annual conference about P&G’s growing interest and investment in sports marketing.

What’s at the top of your marketing agenda?

PRITCHARD: A fair amount of “back to basics.” The whole digital/social media discussion is not as dominant. Companies are beginning to master it, so now they can concentrate on insight and creativity. In the midst of all that, people still underestimate how powerful “search” is. It is so fundamental, but whereas it isn’t talked about much by marketing types, if you aren’t onto the right search terms, consumers won’t find you. Social and mobile are still the new toys, but basics are still important.

After years without a lot of sports marketing relative to your size, P&G now has some of the biggest properties, like a TOP Olympic deal, MLB and the NFL. What changed?

Pritchard says it’s all about making the right connections between a brand and a sport.
PRITCHARD: We’d always done some sports, with stuff like the Tide car in NASCAR, but the [2005] Gillette acquisition reignited our interest since they had been doing it for around 100 years. They helped us learn some basics, and we got lucky to get into the Olympics in Vancouver. We all thought that was a nice start, but we looked at it and thought it had to be better. Then Wieden+Kennedy came to us with the “Thank You, Mom” campaign, and it turned out to be a great confluence of humanity, brands and sports. The London Games really ignited some interest from our brands in using sports; it really exploded creativity. You look at the Tide work “Proud Keeper of America’s Colors” — that came from the Olympics and it has migrated to our NFL work. Athletes use our products; we just have to find the right connections, like Azerbaijani wrestling team and Febreze.

Everyone in sports marketing struggles with ROI. P&G quantifies everything. What’s your approach?

PRITCHARD: The Summer Olympics is not only the most-watched sports event in the world, they are the most-watched sports event by women. They gave us a chance to put all of our brands under a big umbrella. We proved that we could get incremental sales with the 2010 Vancouver Games, when we got $100 million in extra sales. We targeted $500 million in additional sales from the London Games and we are on track to get that. It all starts with convincing retailers to put up more display on their floors; then you’ll get more sales. They not only did more displays, they did multiple-brand displays in different parts of stores.

We also track whether an association is improving favorability and purchase-intent of our brands, and they are. Looking inward, we have found that consumers look upon a brand more favorably in those areas when they can identify it as a P&G brand. I want to make that connection stronger and get that message of performance and the linkage out there.

Budgets are being formed and finalized now. Will your marketing spend in 2013 include anything we wouldn’t expect?

PRITCHARD: The one area that might surprise you that we are pushing more resources to is PR. Part of that has to do with PR’s involvement with social media across the corporate landscape, and we also combine product placement in PR. It’s a larger way of saying word of mouth, the oldest advertising medium.

P&G is in sports more deeply than ever. What’s your advice to another company looking at a sizable sports investment for the first time?

PRITCHARD: The big thing is to first find a way to connect the benefits of your brand with the sport. Think through that linkage. If there really isn’t one, you are just borrowing interest. Why would Tide and a Tiddlywinks tournament have anything in common? Well, it would if we found a Tiddlywinks competition where the competitors got really dirty. Find your consumer insight, and it should lead to your creative solution, whether that’s sports or whatever.

Terry Lefton
The technology revolution is here to stay, and today’s top brand marketers are wrestling with how to keep up with it.

The rapid pace of change brought on by technology was the paramount issue discussed by senior executives gathered at the recent Association of National Advertisers annual conference in Orlando. Seeing a splintering of media further dividing audiences, and the rise of social and mobile platforms redefining the relationship between consumers and brands, marketers are slowly beginning to grow comfortable with the new reality of having less control of their brand messaging than ever.

“We’ve had to break the cycle of the one-way conversation,” said Marc Pritchard, Procter & Gamble global marketing and brand building officer. Pritchard offered a recent Febreze tweet “Don’t you wish you could throw your couch in a washing machine?” as a paradigm. “Marketing is now a democracy,” he said.

Marketers were warned to prepare for a future just ahead when technology will be so integral in their efforts that they will spend more in that area than even their CIOs or CTOs. And they were reminded that in today’s consumer market, competitive ads and price comparisons are as close to shoppers as their smartphones.

“The consumer has unprecedented control over the value chain now because of technology,” said Wal-Mart CMO Stephen Quinn, whose company recently began taking on online retailer Amazon with same-day delivery in some markets, while dropping sales of Amazon’s Kindle e-reader. “We’re focused on getting our marketing much closer to the moment and closer to the local market.”

Jim Farley, group vice president of global marketing, sales and service for Ford, told an audience of more than 2,000 attendees, “Mobile is the fastest growing technology that will affect us, and none of us have figured it out. … The key thing for us is location-based advertising. People who use mobile really use it for shopping.”

From the now-routine ads fashioned with user-generated content to the many varieties of social media, marketers were examining the ramifications of moving from a static delivery of messages to a more participatory experience.

“We are now responsible to be connecting with people in ways that are instructive and not disruptive,” said Kimberly Kadlec, worldwide vice president of Johnson & Johnson’s global marketing group. “We’ve been so used to the disruptive model, but now it is much more conversational. Disruption is over.”

A campaign for J&J’s Muppet Band-Aids — in which QR codes on the product launch animated, singing Muppets — served as a powerful example.

Citing something all city dwellers can relate to, Wal-Mart’s Quinn offered the umbrella vendors that appear instantly on city streets during rainstorms as the definitive example of merchandising. “We ought to be that nimble,” he said. However, with the changing media landscape comes changing responsibilities. “The [expanding] media piece is right in the center now for marketers,” Quinn said. “How are we going to do that [be nimble] and be responsible with budgets?  It requires a different kind of thinking.”

It also was stressed that becoming content providers will require more money.

“You have to be in the content game,” said Subway CMO Tony Pace, citing his company’s direct-to-digital “4 to 9ers” sitcom, which “airs” on, as an example. “Consumers expect brands to have a good take on what they’re interested in. That’s the way you engage them.”

How much marketing has already been changed by technology? “Four or five years ago, 80 percent of what you did was planned and 20 percent was reaction,” Pace said. “Those numbers have flipped.”

"The biggest issue is how a brand can center itself and not go astray simply because of all these new ideas and technologies."
Alfredo Gangotena
CMO, MasterCard

Whereas marketers used to worry about speed-to-market for new products, speed and agility now are mandatory in the marketing department in order to stay in the expanding consumer conversation.

“Agility is now paramount,” said Lisa Donohue, CEO of media agency Starcom USA. “Technology is allowing us to build platforms in real time that can scrape the social media atmosphere, figure out what’s being said and build a platform to push that message back out.”

Added MillerCoors CMO Andy England, “Media is only going to get more complex, and those who can distill it best will be ahead.”

However, other big-brand stewards cautioned fellow marketers not to sacrifice brand equity for the sake of the latest marketing widget. “The biggest issue is how a brand can center itself and not go astray simply because of all these new ideas and technologies,” said MasterCard CMO Alfredo Gangotena.

Necessitated by the rising importance of social media, brand after brand showcased “purpose marketing” programs. Included was Coca-Cola’s increased sustainability efforts, J&J’s “Campaign for Nursing’s Future” and Uniliver’s efforts around providing clean drinking water to underdeveloped countries. Certainly, cause-related marketing is not new, but increasingly, large brands are pushing those efforts out front.

“There’s a change. Brands and companies are trying to show what they stand for,” said Ed Erhardt, president of ESPN global customer marketing and sales. “There are so many ways to interact with consumers, now the biggest thing for me is how focused every marketer was on navigating multiple touch points. The good news for us is that sports remain a gold standard in term of where marketers look for reach and engagement.”

With Allstate’s “Mayhem” a hit campaign, the company showed that popular TV ads can still captivate consumers and re-energize a tired brand. The presentation by Lisa Cochrane, Allstate senior vice president of marketing, included a live appearance by Dean Winters, who plays Allstate’s chilling “Mayhem” character. The campaign, which she revealed was not tested with consumers before its debut, has allowed Allstate to effectively restate its proposition as a

Allstate’s Lisa Cochrane introduced some “Mayhem” into the 2012 ANA annual conference, bringing actor Dean Winters (above) from the brand’s popular spots.
full-service insurance provider compared with low-cost direct providers, such as Geico. “It causes some doubt and makes consumers wonder if they are really covered,” she said.

There may be nothing more daunting then selling the value of sponsorship in a room filled with the biggest advertising buyers in America, but P&G’s Pritchard did a credible job, offering a primer based on the success of his company’s TOP worldwide Olympic sponsorship, paired with the poignant “Thank You, Mom” campaign from Wieden & Kennedy. Pritchard said P&G is on track to realize $500 million in incremental sales from its Olympic marketing push.

“The key lesson for us in sponsorship is that you really need to find insights into why your brand should be part of any sponsorship equation,” Pritchard said. “Athletes are human: They wash their hair, they brush their teeth, they shave, they buy diapers. … We are in the business of helping moms. That’s why we sponsor the moms. We had to find that linkage. If you don’t find that linkage, it isn’t authentic.”

Terry Lefton can be reached at

Valvoline has signed a one-year agreement with the National Thoroughbred Racing Association to become a national partner in a deal that includes advertising and exposure in the horse racing trade organization’s group purchasing program serving 41 racetracks and 32,000 horse breeding farms across North America.

The Valvoline logo will appear in NTRA advertising and on its website and Valvoline will offer discounts to NTRA member tracks, track employees and farms, said Bryan Pettigrew, NTRA senior vice president. Pettigrew oversees the group purchasing program, NTRA Advantage, and NTRA sponsorships. He declined to provide financial details.

Valvoline joins NTRA’s current marketing and group purchasing partners UPS, John Deere Worldwide, Office Max and Sherwin Williams.

Pettigrew said the NTRA was close to finalizing a deal with an automaker, but declined to comment further.
The NTRA’s access to farms was of interest to Valvoline, which produces special motor oils designed for farm vehicles and equipment.

— Liz Mullen