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Volume 21 No. 2

Marketing and Sponsorship

With less than 100 days to go before the London Games, Coca-Cola executive Scott McCune set a lofty goal for the company’s Olympic marketing program.

“Our benchmark is that our annual report for 2010 said that the FIFA World Cup drove our business in the second and third quarter,” said McCune, Coca-Cola’s vice president of global partnerships and experiential marketing. “I would love for our 2012 annual report to say the Olympic Games drove our business.”

The Beatbox in London’s Olympic Park drew an estimated 200,000 visitors.
The annual report won’t be released until next month, but results from this summer suggest the Olympics will be mentioned. Marketing around the London Games helped boost Coca-Cola’s case volume worldwide and reduced the company’s promotional expenses by more than $30 million in the third quarter.

The results came on the heels of the company’s largest, single marketing program around an Olympic Games. Coke, which spends $100 million every four years to sponsor the International Olympic Committee’s The Olympic Partner program, had 110 markets use its multiplatform “Move to the Beat” campaign featuring British producer Mark Ronson, who made a song from the sounds of Olympians training. The participation of 110 markets nearly doubled the 60 markets that activated around the 2008 Beijing Games.

Having one program with two commercials, a digital platform, a mobile app and other elements that were developed centrally by Coca-Cola and used regionally allowed markets to save money they typically would invest on marketing around the Olympics or other summer events. That saved the company an estimated $30 million of productivity, McCune said.

But the company didn’t just cut marketing costs during the Olympics. Coca-Cola also credited the Olympics with increasing case volume 5 percent in Latin America, 2 percent in North America and 1 percent in Europe. Those increases came despite uncertainty in the European and global economy. Markets that activated heavily such as Mexico, Brazil, Germany, South Africa, China and Japan saw significant increases in volume.

“Volume was up in the markets activating, and it was up more in the markets activating than the ones that didn’t,” said McCune, who shared Coca-Cola’s Olympic marketing results with its brand team earlier this month. “We also look at consumer metrics. Do we move people in Brazil from being monthly drinkers to weekly drinkers? Do we move weekly drinkers to daily drinkers? All of those were moving that direction, especially in emerging markets.”

McCune said Coca-Cola’s “Move to the Beat” digital shorts, showing Ronson recording athletes training, generated 45 million views worldwide. The company created a mobile app called “My Beatmaker” that allowed people to record sounds and create their own song. A total of 3.3 million songs were created, which was up from the less than 1 million songs created during a similar promotion around the 2010 World Cup.

Coke at the Olympics

45 million views of video
3.3 million songs created
13 million spectators at the torch relay
1.25 million samples at the torch relay
18 million products served at the Olympics

Source: Coca-Cola

The company’s torch relay was one of its most successful in recent years. It estimated 13 million spectators turned out to see the relay as it wound its way through the United Kingdom over 70 days. Of the 13 million people who turned out, 1.25 million sampled Coca-Cola that was being given away. The company also sampled product at the Olympic Park where it had a “Beatbox” that told the story of Ronson creating the song. The “Beatbox” attracted an estimated 200,000 guests during the Games.

Coca-Cola supplemented its digital and on-site activities with a 30-minute TV show called “Beat TV” that was broadcast in 40 markets around the world. McCune described the TV show, which included 10, 30-minute episodes, as an experiment that was most effective in emerging media markets such as Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia. The company hasn’t determined how many people viewed the shows.

The company’s Olympic marketing program around Ronson was aimed at youth, and a study done by The Variable Agency, which compiles data from consumer behavior online, estimated that close to 70 percent of the audience that engaged with Coca-Cola’s digital videos and mobile app were between the ages of 13 and 24. More than half of those that engaged were 13 to 17.

“The core strategy of recruiting teens and having one, central campaign around ‘Move to the Beat’ worked,” McCune said.

Coca-Cola’s Powerade brand, which activated around the Olympics for the first time, also saw increases in sales volume. The brand activated in 35 markets, and it saw an 11 percent increase in sales volume during the third quarter when it was promoting the Olympics.

During the 17 days of the London Games, Coca-Cola served 18 million products ranging from Sprite to Powerade to Vitaminwater.

“That’s pretty much in line with [past Olympics], but to be able to have that much in sales is not easy from an operations standpoint,” McCune said.

MasterCard’s longtime position as a PGA Tour official marketing partner will continue through 2016, based on a renewal signed with the tour last week.

The company, which has been a tour partner since 1995, plans to roll out several new initiatives in 2013, including a couple of new text-to-win programs that will give cardholders the opportunity to upgrade their hospitality on the day of the tournament.

MasterCard will continue to display its marks on the scoreboards at each tournament.
MasterCard will continue to display its marks on the PGA Tour’s scoreboards across the course at each tournament, giving it some of the highest visibility available at a tour event.

The additional four years on the official marketing partnership aligns the tour partnership with its title sponsorship of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, which was extended earlier this year and also runs through the 2016 season. It has been title sponsor of Palmer’s tournament since 2004.

An official marketing partnership like MasterCard’s goes for $5 million to $7 million a year, industry insiders said. The title sponsorship for Palmer’s tournament is around $8 million, putting MasterCard’s spending on rights fees at $13 million to $15 million a year. Neither MasterCard nor the tour would comment on the cost of the rights.

“Golf is a passion point for many of our cardholders,” said Chris McWilton, MasterCard’s president, U.S. markets. “The tour helps us provide cardholders with golf experiences and access that brings them closer to the game.”

MasterCard’s renewal ranks among the tour’s biggest sponsorship wins this year because the company is one of the tour’s most prolific advertisers and offers some of the most robust activation among its marketing partners. Clearly, the tour’s biggest renewal of the year came in March when FedEx extended for five more years through 2017.

Overall, the tour extended nine of the 11 tournament title sponsorship deals that were up in 2012. Only Transitions Optical didn’t return for the event in Tampa, which goes into 2013 without a title sponsor. The Children’s Miracle Network tournament at Disney was not brought back as part of the new 2013-14 schedule.

MasterCard, which works with Octagon on its golf activation and strategies, began testing some of its new programs earlier this year at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and The Barclays.

One program, called “Best seats in the house,” enables cardholders text-to-win access to hospitality, or to upgrade their hospitality, on the day of the tournament. Another text-to-win program called “Priceless lessons” offers winners the chance to have a 20-minute putting lesson with a PGA Tour pro. Both of these programs will be available at most tour events this year.

Other cardholder advantages, such as the ability to buy tickets before anyone else, or discounts for merchandise and concessions, have been core to MasterCard’s activation in the past.

Cardholders also enjoy access to play private TPC courses that are owned by the tour, as well as preferred tee times.

MLB’s biggest licensees introduced new products at a recent show in Las Vegas, and one of the main items is a batting practice cap that will be introduced during spring training from on-field cap rights holder New Era.

The new batting practice “Spring BP” cap has the silhouette of New Era’s bread and butter 5950 cap, which is worn during games, and adds fabrication with better moisture management. Beyond that, the new cap will be a story of secondary and tertiary logos getting exposure on an on-field product. All the tweaks are not in or approved yet, but the mustachioed “Mr. Red” character looks like he will make an appearance on the Cincinnati Reds’ cap. For tradition-bound teams like the New
Photos by: NEW ERA
York Yankees, the features will be more around color, with the Yankees’ familiar blue and white “NY” mark adopting some gray in its color palette.

“This is a way to get a new look on-field and so far, we’ve given some more latitude on the logos,” said New Era President Pete Augustine, promising a multipronged marketing campaign behind the new Spring BP cap.

Both Augustine and MLB licensing officials cautioned that marketing plans for the new program were not “fully baked,” nor is all the artwork approved. However, the plan has been presented to New Era’s sales force and some retailers.

MLB’s other large apparel licensee, VF’s Majestic brand, presented both a $70 Therma Base quarter zip performance hoodie for spring training and a “Triple Climate 3-in-1” water-resistant jacket in which the outer shells zips out for a separate garment. Again, plans and approvals for that jacket are not complete, but the price point will be around $225.

“We’re still working on approvals,” acknowledged VF Licensed Sports Group President Jim Pisani, “but for us, the good news on both products is that we’ve been investing in R&D and we are seeing a steady stream of results in terms of on-field product.”

Beyond the apparel front, manufacturer Ty, of Beanie Babies fame, showed a line of MLB-logoed Beanie Ballz plush, while new licensee Kolcraft had a line of potty rings, umbrella strollers and step stools that it will sell beginning next year.

NBA marketing partners are set to debut activation initiatives around the league’s annual slate of Christmas Day games, which delivers a healthy TV audience and offers a key platform to launch creative and products.

“This has become the holiday destination for NBA fans around the world,” said Emilio Collins, senior vice president of global marketing partnerships for the NBA. “Our partners are recognizing that, and we continue to try and make it as compelling as possible.”

The five-game Christmas Day lineup tips off on ESPN with the Brooklyn Nets hosting the Boston Celtics at noon, followed by an evening doubleheader between the Houston Rockets at the Chicago Bulls and the Denver Nuggets at the Los Angeles Clippers.

ABC begins its 2012-13 NBA schedule at 3 p.m. ET, with the Los Angeles Lakers hosting the New York Knicks, who are playing on Christmas Day for a record 48th year. ABC’s doubleheader concludes with an NBA Finals rematch, in which the Miami Heat will host the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Christmas Day games will feature special "Big Color" uniforms by NBA apparel licensee Adidas.
The most readily apparent commercial ploy for viewers will be the Christmas Day “Big Color” uniforms from NBA master apparel licensee Adidas.

An ad for the uniforms featuring Dwyane Wade of the Heat, Carmelo Anthony of the Knicks, Dwight Howard of the Lakers, Russell Westbrook of the Thunder, and Joe Johnson of the Nets bouncing basketballs in an approximation of “Carol of the Bells” has been a YouTube smash.

To date, Big Color total views on the NBA YouTube channel is at 7.3 million. The special jerseys to be worn this one day have been at retail since mid-November.

The Clippers’ Chris Paul appears in spots for Billy Crystal’s movie “Parental Guidance.”
Photo by: ESPN
Five league sponsors will debut NBA-themed creative. ABC NBA halftime sponsor Sprint will unveil its latest spot with Thunder star Kevin Durant, while there’s a new Kobe Bryant spot for Nike touting his new shoe. League partners BBVA, Kia and State Farm have new ads, with Kia again featuring Blake Griffin. State Farm, presenting sponsor of all the Christmas Day games, will unveil a new promotional “NBA Assist” program as the company moves from presenting to title sponsor of “All-Star Saturday Night” on TNT and has it continuing as presenting sponsors of the NBA draft.

Movie studio 20th Century Fox will use NBA marketing assets in campaigns for two new releases, “Parental Guidance,” starring Billy Crystal, and “A Good Day to Die Hard,” with Bruce Willis.

Nike and Jordan Brand will have special-edition Christmas Day sneakers for their players.

The NBA will again run its #bignbaxmas campaign on Twitter, which has the league working with partners, including American Express, to give away items provided by NBA sponsors only on Dec. 25.

During John Libro’s 11 years at Van Wagner, he repeatedly heard clients asking for more effective digital and social media platforms.

When Libro left Van Wagner in February, those requests stuck with him and led to several late-night conversations with a longtime friend, Randy Eccker, who had an extensive digital background, including the launch of the SEC Digital Network.

Eccker and Libro decided to create a company designed to improve the digital and social experience for brands, teams and events, while returning to clients a deeper base of information about their fans and followers. What evolved is S3i Digital, a New York-based company that has come out of the gates with four university clients — California, Maryland, Rutgers and St. Joseph’s.

One of S3i Digital’s primary services will be working with the schools to streamline their social media branding, while also providing fan behavior trends so that schools can better target the messaging. The company also will work with brand marketers, such as Cloudbreak Group, a New York Yankees’ licensing partner, and Aspen Dental.

For schools like Rutgers and Maryland that are joining the Big Ten, expanding the brand and reaching out to the fan base has never been more important, their administrators say.

“We’ve been thinking quite a bit about how we interact digitally, well before the move to the Big Ten came along. But now we’re going into it with a lot more thought and strategy behind our messaging,” Nathan Pine, Maryland’s deputy athletic director, said of the new relationship with S3i. “We want to be more of a national presence and we want to improve our brand and our recognition.”

“All schools are facing the challenge of how you manage all of your social media,” said Doug Fillis, Rutgers’ senior associate AD, administration.

With the rush to be relevant on social media in recent years, many schools flooded the zone with multiple Facebook pages and Twitter accounts for their many teams and departments The result has been a mishmash of looks that don’t provide any consistency, and scattershot messaging that all too often doesn’t find a targeted audience.

“The idea is to develop campaigns for these brands and properties that engage fans in much more relevant ways,” Eccker said. “The real opportunity with social media is to target certain information for the people who are interested in that content. The more you can target the content, the more meaningful it will be.”

While CEO at XOS Digital, Eccker developed college contacts who are providing some early success for his latest venture.

Eccker, who is S3i Digital’s CEO and chairman, knew Pine and Maryland AD Kevin Anderson from years of working in the college space. Libro, who oversaw Van Wagner’s college accounts, including the Allstate field goal nets program, carries the title executive vice president and general manager.

Eccker and Libro are working with these schools and other clients to better organize and target their social media outreach.

Through S3i’s technology, which Eccker didn’t want to detail, the company will be able to determine more about each school’s fan base, their ticket buyers, their donors, their graduates and other segments to create more targeted messages for specific audiences, rather than broad blasts of content.

“We need the fan intelligence,” Fillis said. “We need to get all of the information we have on our alumni, our faculty, our donors, into one repository. We’ll get back some tremendous information on fans who buy tickets, who buy merchandise, who go to bowl games.”

And for Rutgers’ other partners, such as multimedia rights holder Nelligan Sports or ticketing agent Aspire Group, “We think there will be incremental revenue in that, too,” Fillis said.

Terry Lefton
As the New York City Marathon attempts to sort out whether this year’s cancellation in the wake of Hurricane Sandy was due to “force majeure,” aka greater force or natural causes, or instead was the result of a human decision, sponsors and runners are in the dark about make-good and refunds.

However, the imminent departure of NYRR sponsorship sales chief Ann Wells Crandall has set in motion some intriguing developments on the marketing side of the house. Numerous sources tell us that while NYRR President and CEO Mary Wittenberg has the final say on the matter, the person handling day-to-day marketing matters is Ronnie Tucker, vice president of marketing and digital. Tucker has been at the NYRR only since June but has gained power in the wake of Crandall’s departure for the Pac-12 Conference.

She departs the marathon organizer this month and plans to start work at the Pac-12’s San Francisco offices in January.
Moreover, whomever is hired as the association’s new sales chief will likely have to share sales duties with an agency, marking the first time in our memory the NYRR has used an outside sales consultant. Among those in the mix, according to our runners in the pack, are CAA Sports, which we’re told sent bouquets to the NYRR as part of its courting process in Sandy’s wake. We’ve also heard Harlan Stone and Jeff JonasSJX Partners are in the mix.

As for why there’s now a need for an agency? “Just to have a longer reach,” said one insider.

After the storm damage — both literal and figurative — this year, it would seem that any new sales chief would have only upside. However, the first thing on that person’s plate will be looking to replace title sponsor ING, which may or may not be in the final year of its deal in 2013, depending on whether 2012 will be called a do-over or not. In either case, while ING has titled the race since 2003, the original deal was a few CEOs ago, and the company’s investment in running has been trimmed from a dozen or so marathon sponsorships to less than a handful.

More recently, ING has been selling off assets in an effort to repay the 10 billion euros ($12.8 billion U.S.) in bailout funding it received from the Dutch government during the 2008 financial crisis. Under a restructuring plan completed last month, the Dutch parent company must divest much of its U.S. business. It doesn’t seem like this is a company ready to commit to a top-shelf sponsorship contract.

One trusted source told us CAA Sports has already been quietly shopping the title sponsorship among clients and other agencies. Another told us ING has already nixed a proposed $10 million a year offer to renew.

NYRR PR agency Matter, Edelman did not return our phone call.

> CHECKING OUT: When losing an incumbent sponsor, the standard refrain from the property is “We’ll still get them back.” We heard that so persistently from various league marketers when IBM left various leagues around a decade ago only to be eventually replaced by Lenovo — which left us highly amused, since Lenovo’s U.S. arm was the remnants of IBM’s sold-off PC operations.

In deference to such insistence, we’ve been holding off reporting until now that HP has left as an NBA sponsor. The marketer of PCs, printers and other tech hardware signed as an NBA sponsor in 2008 in what was the tech giant’s first leaguewide rights deal. At the time, there was talk of product integration, especially replacing coaches’ whiteboards with tablet computers. However, like other leagues, the NBA has struggled to balance the needs of the marketing and competition committees in a way that would allow the use of tablets on the sidelines.

We’re not laying the blame on the NBA. While HP was one of the founders of the Silicon Valley tech revolution, recently it has been losing market share and struggling financially. Last month, HP took an $8.8 billion write-down from “accounting irregularities” at Autonomy, a British software company it bought for $11.1 billion last year. The write-down catalyzed a $6.9 billion quarterly loss for the company. A company in that kind of position won’t be doing much marketing spending.

> HERE & THERE: Longtime hotel/hospitality exec David Feder joins the board of advisers for the rechristened Disson Sports & Entertainment, McLean, Va. Feder joins a board that includes former Visa Executive Vice President/CMO John Bennett, ProServ/Advantage founder Frank Craighill and USA Network founder Kay Koplovitz. … Keith Wan joins World Wrestling Entertainment’s integrated sales and marketing group. He leaves Leverage Agency, where he was director of sports and athlete marketing since 2009. … Pete Arrichiello joins Private Jet Services Group, Seabrook, N.H., as director of business development as the company seeks to increase its share of the sports market.

Terry Lefton can be reached at

USA Swimming closed a new sponsorship with the swimwear company Arena, giving the organization its second apparel partner in more than two decades.

The eight-year agreement, which industry sources valued at more than $1 million a year, follows USA Swimming’s decision to break up its apparel category and begin selling non-exclusive licensing and sponsorship deals. Arena will become a non-exclusive sponsor of USA Swimming, title sponsor of six Grand Prix swimming events and the exclusive sponsor of the U.S. national team, which will wear Arena apparel on the pool deck and podium at USA Swimming events.

Rebecca Soni endorses Arena’s products.
Speedo was the national governing body’s exclusive apparel and swimwear partner from 1985 to 2012 and recently paid more than $1.5 million a year for that sponsorship. But USA Swimming last month renegotiated its agreement with Speedo, signing a non-exclusive deal valued at more than $600,000 with the swimwear company.

That deal combined with the Arena deal means that USA Swimming’s gamble to break up the category has helped it increase total revenue from the licensing and apparel category. It hopes to sign more swimwear deals and possibly sign a deal in the fashion and footwear categories similar to the U.S. Olympic Committee’s deals with Ralph Lauren and Nike, respectively.

“[The Arena sponsorship] really supports what we want to do in terms of raising the profile of the national team and our national team athletes,” said Matt Farrell, USA Swimming’s chief marketer. “They also have a vision for growing the sport at the grassroots level, and for us that was a great combination.”

Arena’s sponsorship comes two years after the private equity firm Riverside Co. acquired it and began pushing the brand to increase its market share in the U.S. The brand is the top swimming brand worldwide but trails Speedo in the U.S. market. It hopes the sponsorship with USA Swimming will help change that.

Olympic gold-medalist and world record-holder Rebecca Soni is the most high-profile U.S. swimmer currently on Arena’s roster of swimmers.