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Volume 21 No. 2

Marketing and Sponsorship

Having the foresight to focus a campaign around elite youth hockey players enabled CCM to minimize damage during the NHL lockout, but looking back, Reebok’s hockey brand cannot dismiss the setbacks that were sustained during the four-month league shutdown.

“There was a significant drop-off,” said Glen Thornborough, CCM’s vice president of global marketing. “It was not unexpected. When your product is utilized in hundreds of games being played before crowds of 15,000 to 20,000 in arenas and big audiences on TV, and then there aren’t any games, there are going to be losses.”

To be sure, the relationship between the NHL and Reebok/CCM, the league’s on-ice jersey supplier, remains a strong and profitable one.

Photos: GETTY IMAGES (2)
And while Thornborough, speaking last week, declined to provide specifics on the losses CCM suffered because of the lockout, his comments are notable. During the September to January work stoppage, Molson Coors was the only league sponsor to publicly express frustration and reveal that its sales were suffering as a result of canceled games.

Thornborough said CCM did not expect the NHL lockout to be as long as it was. He also said, though, that CCM’s plan to place an

CCM has a “head-to-toe” agreement with Montreal goaltender Carey Price (top) and deals with other young stars such as John Tavares (middle), but its “Start Your Legend” campaign went even younger.
emphasis on youth programs starting last summer “turned out to be a great decision for us.”

CCM hosted skills camps for 125 select youth players ages 11 and 12 in eight North American cities last summer: Calgary, Boston, New York, Montreal, Toronto, Minneapolis, Detroit and Vancouver. Each player received a full set of CCM gear. While the NHL was shut down, CCM built print and broadcast ad campaigns around the young players called “Start Your Legend.”

The skills camps will expand this summer from eight to 16 cities, including some in Europe. The company also is hosting “speed camps” this year, five-hour clinics instructing youth players on skating. After presenting one in Quebec City last month, there will be camps in St. Paul, Minn., on April 27 and in Sweden on May 15.

CCM and the NHL have been partners since the mid-1980s. That relationship continued under a 10-year agreement between the NHL and Montreal-based The Hockey Co., which owned the CCM brand, that was signed in March 2003. The next year, Reebok purchased The Hockey Co. for $204 million plus $125 million in assumed debt.

Although no official announcements have been made, Brian Jennings, the NHL’s executive vice president of marketing, said the partners’ decade-long agreement has been amended “a few times” since it was first reached and that the NHL and CCM were in the middle of a “very long-term agreement” that extends beyond next season. He would not reveal the deal’s expiration date.

One thing is certain: Jennings credits CCM for its marketing efforts at all levels of hockey.

“Reebok/CCM is critically important to our business and should be commended for doing an amazing job in building brand equity and presence, especially in youth hockey,” Jennings said. “When we were dormant, CCM focused on grassroots programs and a key demographic that wants their equipment: youth players.”

The return of the NHL, along with CCM’s emphasis on marketing to youth, is good timing for the release of CCM’s new skate, RBZ, in July.

“We’re back on the treadmill,” Thornborough said. “The NHL playoffs are right around the corner, and we expect to be active. No matter how much we do with youth hockey development, it’s no secret that our core business is in the pros.”

CCM has equipment endorsement agreements with young NHL stars John Tavares, Gabriel Landeskog and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, among others, along with what Thornborough called a “head-to-toe” agreement with Montreal goaltender Carey Price.

Asked if he was relieved that the labor deal reached in January between the NHL and NHL Players’ Association was a 10-year agreement, Thornborough said, “Let’s put it this way: Stability is very good for anyone in this business.”

It was March 1 when the PGA Tour announced that EverBank Financial would sponsor its golf tournament in Tampa Bay. That gave EverBank and the tournament’s organizers all of 13 days to prepare.

When the tournament tees off this Thursday, though, caddie bibs, tee markers and TV-visible signage will carry the EverBank marks. The entrance signage, the mesh around the bleachers and even the pin flags will all reflect EverBank’s support of the tournament at Innisbrook Resort.

What won’t be readily obvious is the flurry of activity required to prepare the tournament for its new presenting sponsor.
“In our business, you have to be flexible and you have to do it with a smile,” said Kevin Krisle, tournament director at the newly named Tampa Bay Championship presented by EverBank. “We’ve made a lot of new friends in the last week or so.”

While not one of the more prevalent brands in sports sponsorship, this isn’t new to EverBank, which has naming rights to the Jacksonville Jaguars’ stadium and a history of heavy hospitality at The Players Championship.

The Tampa sponsorship also comes on the heels of EverBank’s move into wealth management. The Jacksonsonville-based bank launched a new wealth management subsidiary last year and the tournament is considered a platform to help develop new clients.

“We’re well-equipped to mobilize the resources needed to pull this off,” EverBank President and COO Blake Wilson said. “As a company, we take pride in being nimble and flexible and opportunistic.”

Ever since the deal was done, EverBank, the tour and tournament organizers in Tampa have been on daily calls so that EverBank makes the most of its presenting sponsorship. This is a one-year deal and the tour, more than anything, wants EverBank to have a good experience and extend the relationship. Terms of the deal were not available, but presenting sponsorships run from the low to mid-seven figures.

With Wilson running point, EverBank has assembled department heads from marketing, sports marketing, events and public relations to make preparations for the tournament. The bank also has brought in executives from its primary business channels — banking, lending and investing — to coordinate the client-focused events.

In all, 350 to 400 guests will attend hospitality functions on-site and during the pro-am, the bank said.

“We actually have a pretty good base of expertise for something like this,” said Wilson, who has brought in as many as 500 guests in a week to entertain at The Players Championship, where he first struck a relationship with the tour’s marketing executives.

Such a quick turnaround is not unprecedented. EverBank’s deal brought back memories for Chuck Browning, head of sponsorship for Farmers Insurance. When Farmers signed its agreement to title sponsor the San Diego tournament at Torrey Pines, the company closed the deal just 12 days before the tournament teed off.

“It’s really important to prioritize at this point,” Browning said. “You’ve got to think about what you need first. What we did was establish a project manager, someone who had oversight of all the moving parts. … For us, what we looked at first was all of the branding, all of the media opportunities, everything that was visible. You handle the ‘must-haves’ first, and then you move on to the ‘nice-to-haves’ next.”

And despite the best planning, Browning said, be prepared for some kind of surprise. Shortly after Farmers signed its deal, its executives made a site visit to Torrey Pines. What they found was a Geico-branded trailer on the grounds of the golf course. Geico had paid for the space.

“Well, that was a hot button for us,” Browning said of the insurance competitor. “We worked out a financial arrangement to reimburse them for what they had paid [to make the trailer go away]. … You’ve just got to go see things for yourself to get to all the nitty gritty.”

Editor’s note: This story is revised from the print edition.

Three industry veterans are teaming for a sports executive development program, looking to groom a new wave of sales leaders who can maximize sponsorship deals for their teams, properties and agencies.

Scott O’Neil, former president of Madison Square Garden Sports, is leading the effort, working with Bill Sutton, president of industry consultancy Bill Sutton & Associates, and Chris Heck, former New York Red Bulls president of business operations. Their 5 Star Sponsorship Academy will debut with a May 8-9 session at the Harvard Club in New York.

It’s an invitation-only event. Attendees will be selected upon recommendation by senior management from the sports industry.

Participants will pay $3,200 for the two-day, workshop-style event, which will include panels featuring some of the industry’s top dealmakers. Scheduled panelists include John Brody, senior vice president of sponsorship and media sales for the NFL; Paul Danforth, head of global sales for CAA Sports; David Abrutyn, senior vice president for IMG Consulting; and Keith Wachtel, NHL senior vice president of integrated sales and marketing.

The goal of the session is to expose promising industry executives to high-level transactions within sports, whether it’s a naming-rights agreement, an integrated team sponsorship deal, or perhaps, in the NBA’s not-too-distant future, a jersey sponsorship deal.

“It is a way to train the next big-game hunters,” O’Neil said. “There are so many more talented people coming into the business; what is needed is a training piece.”

The organizers hope to draw between 25 and 35 attendees. O’Neil said the group will rely on industry contacts and word-of-mouth to seek nominations.

Leagues routinely hold sponsorship workshops for team executives, but the 5 Star group said it wants to focus its training on a higher level of executive. It believes the steep price point for attending won’t detract participants.

One high-level industry executive who said he’d heard about the 5 Star plan said he is taking a wait-and-see approach to the venture. While he agreed that the

identified need in the industry exists, he said he is eager to see what level of participants will attend the initial event.

Sutton, who also runs “sales combines” for more entry-level sports sales positions — events offered at a far lower cost than the 5 Star price — said the new venture is not geared toward job placement. Organizations likely would be unwilling to send their executives to such an event for fear of seeing them hired away by other companies looking for top talent.

“It is not a job fair or a combine,” Sutton said. “We want to avoid any conflicts at all cost. It is about training the up-and-coming executives. It is not how to sell to sponsors but how to find and negotiate the big deals.”

A former NBA executive, Sutton now leads the sports management MBA program at the University of South Florida. His consultant company counts NBA and MLB teams as clients.

The group plans to bring in executives from the corporate buying side of the business in addition to the scheduled team and agency representatives, but no names have been confirmed.

“The opportunity is to have some world-class sellers and buyers talking about what worked and how the big deals get done,” said O’Neil, who while at MSG Sports negotiated a 10-year, $300 million deal with JPMorgan Chase along with deals with top-flight brands Delta, Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola, Kia and Lexus. “There is a place and a process that we can help with, whether it is with a No. 1 ticket seller or with a third-year sponsorship seller who hasn’t broken through yet but has the goods to get there.”

Depending on the success of the initial event in New York, more seminars may be added.

For four years, LG Electronics has enjoyed the national exposure that comes with its NCAA corporate partnership, but it also wanted more local touch points to round out its collegiate marketing.

Through a deal with Learfield Sports that provides marketing and media rights at 14 schools, LG hit the ground with a campaign that offers local activation at Best Buy locations across the country.

LG is promoting events designed to draw college basketball fans to local Best Buy stores, such as this one in North Carolina.
These events typically feature a former coach or player with ties to the local college signing autographs and posing for pictures at a Best Buy store.

Anywhere from 150 to 250 fans have attended some of the first events, which offer LG a unique setting in which to show off its products. LG is pushing products from all three of its divisions — appliances, mobile and home entertainment — that sell at Best Buy.

“When we evaluate what we’ve done in collegiate sports, it seemed like a natural progression for us to look to localize our sponsorship,” said Michelle Acosta-Donovan, LG’s director of sponsorships and consumer promotions. “We worked very closely with Best Buy to find the markets that they were looking to activate against and then we identified the schools in those markets that we could leverage.”

The 14 schools LG bought through Learfield were Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Iowa State, Miami, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Oregon State, Purdue, San Diego State, Stanford, Texas A&M and Wisconsin. LG’s

LG’s deal at 14 Learfield colleges, including Purdue, packages promotional rights, radio and digital ads, signs in the arenas and hospitality.
first Learfield relationship was at Minnesota, and the broader deal grew out of that. The Best Buy promotions started in February and run into this month.

At each school, New Jersey-based LG bought promotional rights, radio and digital advertising, signage inside the basketball arenas, and hospitality.

Those advertising assets, as well as social media, newspaper circulars and, were used to promote the local Best Buy events.

“The big thing for us was utilizing the local talent, former coaches and players, to be at the store,” Acosta-Donovan said. “That’s making a connection with a passion point for the fans.”

The deal between LG and the Learfield schools also provides something of a road map for Learfield to do more national deals across several properties. Learfield represents the multimedia rights for 50 schools across the country.

Rival rights holder IMG College set out to establish a national sales division more than two years ago, and has experienced some success with sales to UPS, Lowe’s, MillerCoors and a handful of national brands across several of its schools.

Learfield brought on Roy Seinfeld as executive vice president of national sales, in January, and he said the LG deal can be a “poster child for how to do these types of national deals.”

“This is a unique, customized program with local activation that takes the brand into the market and onto campus, and is national in scope,” Seinfeld said. “This is exactly what I’m pitching, and that’s the connection that can be made in market, as part of a national buy. This is a big deal for Learfield, the type of thing we’re looking to do more, so that brands can take full advantage of the assets we have to offer.”

Looking ahead to March Madness, LG will run a promotion under its “Do March Right” umbrella. Beginning Sunday, LG will run a bracket of favorite game-watching recipes, and visitors to will select the winners by round.

LG also has new advertising that will break with the start of the tournament. Octagon handles LG’s marketing, while the brand works with its in-house agency, LG Ad, on its commercial production.

The ubiquitous motorcoach brand Prevost is wading into the world of sponsorship for the first time.

The Volvo-owned company signed a deal with NASCAR to become the sport’s official luxury motorcoach. The multiyear agreement is a mix of cash and value-in-kind use of motorcoaches. Financial terms weren’t available.

Prevost, owned by Volvo, takes over for Featherlite Coaches in the sponsor category.
Photo by: PREVOST
Prevost previously contributed to the NASCAR sponsorship fees that its predecessor in the category, Featherlite Coaches, paid. Featherlite, which is one of five motorcoach conversion companies that build out the interior of Prevost vehicles, dropped its deal at the end of last year to reduce its marketing expenses.

“What it does for Prevost is it opens up the opportunity not just for our brand to promote motorcoaches, but also promote the passenger buses we build,” said Steve Zeigler, Prevost’s director of business development.

Zeigler said passenger bus customers are “very blue collar,” and Prevost plans to bring them out to NASCAR races for hospitality weekends. In addition to that, the company plans to promote the sponsorship in its advertising in places like the Family Motor Coach Association’s magazine and design NASCAR rallies for Prevost owners at select NASCAR tracks during the season.

One of the opportunities that excited Prevost the most about the deal was the chance to join NASCAR’s Fuel for Business Council, a series of business-to-business gatherings that takes place quarterly throughout the season. Zeigler said that Prevost plans to tout the company’s leasing business to other NASCAR sponsors and alert them to the fact that they can rent motorcoaches for individual race weekends.

NASCAR used one of Prevost’s motorcoaches to host clients during the race weekend in Phoenix earlier this month. It will continue to use Prevost motorcoaches at races throughout the season.

Prevost worked with Michigan-based PCGCampbell on the deal. Norris Scott, NASCAR vice president of partnership marketing, and account manager Matthew Braydich negotiated the deal.

Roush Fenway Racing is restructuring its marketing operations division and adding a strategic marketing group charged with designing activation programs for new and existing sponsors.

The team is making the move in response to a changing sponsorship marketplace. Roush previously had a marketing sales and operations division that was focused on landing new partners and fulfilling those sponsor contracts. That structure worked well during the sport’s boom that ran from the late 1990s through 2007. During that period, corporations lined up to sponsor teams and managed most of their marketing programs independently.

But the revolving door of sponsors stopped spinning after the recession, and teams began to feel pressure to keep existing sponsors by improving return-on-investment figures or to land new sponsors by coming to them armed with marketing plans that worked for their business.

To do that more effectively, Roush is creating a marketing services division that will be overseen by longtime employee Kevin Thomas, who was recently named vice president of strategic marketing. He will oversee a five-person staff that will work on sponsorship activation for existing partners, digital and social media initiatives, and communications, which used to be part of the team’s marketing operations division. The team hired a new social and digital marketing specialist and transitioned one of its communications employees into a digital role.

Roush also hired longtime agency executive Mike Mooney, who ran The Marketing Arm’s Charlotte office, as vice president of partnership development. He will be charged with working with Roush’s sales team, led by Pete Thuresson, to develop marketing programs that appeal to new sponsors.

The team will continue to have a sponsor operations group that fulfills sponsor contracts and manages paint schemes, firesuits and driver appearances. It will be overseen by vice president Joyce Caron-Mercier.

“We view this as an evolution,” said Steve Newmark, Roush Fenway Racing’s president. “Historically, the sport was about selling paint on the car. That model in my view isn’t sufficient anymore, and we’ve spent a lot of time and effort to shift away from that and make sure we can offer comprehensive marketing programs that happen to be centered around a sport as opposed to being a sport that has some marketing benefits.”

During the restructuring, Roush hired five new employees over the last two months (see chart). Two sales executives and two operations executives left the team.

The team renewed deals with all nine of its sponsors who had agreements that were up at the end of last year. Five of those sponsors were Sprint Cup partners, two were Nationwide Series partners and two were associate sponsors across its suite of teams. The team has eight Sprint Cup races and about 36 Nationwide races to sell this year.

Newmark hopes that the restructuring bolsters the team’s effort to retain existing sponsors and land new ones.

“When we’re out there talking to prospects, we want to be able to present a turnkey program that their marketing team can say, ‘This will be easy to implement,’” Newmark said. “Even more importantly is working with existing partners to help them grow and take advantage of the assets we have and make the motorsports program more ingrained in how they think about marketing.”

Joe Sanderson figures the state of Mississippi has been pretty good to him and the company that bears his family’s name. So he’s negotiated a deal for Sanderson Farms, a chicken processor with annual sales of $2.4 billion, to title sponsor the PGA Tour event in Madison, Miss.

“This tournament’s been around for more than 40 years,” said Sanderson, chairman and CEO of Sanderson Farms since 1989. “I want to make sure the tournament stays in Mississippi.”

Much of the traditional marketing logic for title-sponsoring a PGA Tour event doesn’t really apply to Sanderson Farms,

The tournament had been without a title sponsor since Viking departed after the 2011 event.
whose target audience is women age 25-65, the people who make the food-buying decisions in most households. For Sanderson, the decision was about protecting a valuable asset in his backyard.

Sanderson Farms is based in Laurel, Miss., about an hour from where the tournament is held. The July event has been called the True South Classic since Viking departed as title sponsor after the 2011 tournament.

The new name this year will be the Sanderson Farms Championship and for the third year it will be played opposite the British Open after spending several years in the fall portion of the schedule.

Sanderson Farms agreed to a one-year deal and the company would not reveal the price, but opposite-field events on Golf Channel typically go for the low seven figures. Sanderson said the title sponsorship is easily the largest marketing deal it has ever signed. The company will evaluate the sponsorship after the first year and then decide whether to invest in a longer term, he said.

“For us, it’s not so much about the advertising,” said Sanderson, whose grandfather founded the business first as a feed-and-seed store 65 years ago before entering the chicken processing business in the 1960s. “It’s much more about making sure the tournament stays in Mississippi. We like the PGA Tour and we like the philanthropy it represents. It means a lot that they support the children’s hospital [at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson]. … We will advertise, but it will be more of a public relations message about our company.”

Terry Lefton
What’s the retail potential for the first Super Bowl in America’s biggest market? That’s a bit like asking “how high is up?” But that was one of the issues being debated among the more than 100 licensees at last week’s NFL Consumer Products Summit in Nashville. The 11th annual gathering of NFL licensing partners attracted easily its largest crowd ever,
and many were already predicting strong sales for next year’s NFL championship at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.

Eager to stoke the retail fires, the NFL is encouraging its largest apparel and hard-goods licensees to get Super Bowl-licensed product at retailers in the host New York market as soon as next month — far earlier than normal.

“The earliest I can recall Super Bowl stuff in market is late July or early August for the 2006 Detroit Super Bowl, but this year you will see Super Bowl product for sale around the [April 25] NFL draft,” said Leo Kane, NFL senior vice president of consumer products. “With the Super Bowl being in New York and all the tourist traffic, there’s a really big opportunity.’’

While Kane would not say what kind of multiple he’s expecting, several licensees said the league is hoping for a three-times to five-times bump in generic product. One intriguing sidelight to Super Bowl-licensed products being available so early is that it will compete for shelf space with licensed products for the 2013 MLB All-Star Game in New York.

The new Super Bowl logo, which licensees saw for the first time, includes the stadium and skyline.
“There probably will be a decent tourist business, but for us the biggest difference will be whether there is a local New York or even East Coast team playing. That would be huge,’’ said Mitchell Modell, CEO of the 150-store sporting goods chain which bears his family name. “We’ll start our larger [Super Bowl] buys with the [NFL] season and especially for fourth quarter. I’m sure this will be big for the holidays.’’

Another way the league is hoping to boost sales of generic (non-team specific) Super Bowl-licensed products is by returning to the use of a Super Bowl logo that incorporates local elements. Over the past three years, the Super Bowl logo has been decidedly generic: a Lombardi Trophy image atop the appropriate Roman numeral. For Super Bowl XLVIII, it will revert to being regionalized, combining the trophy with an image of MetLife Stadium and some of New York’s most recognizable buildings. When showing the logo to licensees for the first time, NFL Creative Director Shandon Melvin also discussed some of the Super Bowl XLVIII slogans that will be available for licensees. The tag lines have not been finalized, but some themes under consideration for the first outdoor Super Bowl in cold weather have a decidedly New York/New Jersey flavor. They include “Rain, Sleet, and Hail Mary”; “You Say 48 Years, We Say Fashionably Late”; “Unfugheddable”; and “We’ve Got This One Uncovered.”

With no NFL Experience at the next Super Bowl, the question of an additional retail presence for league licensees in Manhattan during Super Bowl Week is an interesting one. Kane said plans have not been finalized, but a pop-up store somewhere adjacent to Broadway between 33rd and 44th streets, which will be transformed into “Super Bowl Boulevard” during the week before the game, is one scenario being discussed.

> FEMININE MYSTIQUE: After a number of years of preaching to licensees at the annual summit and elsewhere about the importance of developing more items for female fans, there was unquestionably more women’s products than ever at the Nashville show. Cuce Shoes, which drew enough raves for its logoed “Wellies,” or rain boots, that they were featured in a TV ad from the NFL, has extended into sweaters and other women’s apparel. Not to say the Cuce twins have abandoned footwear. Noting the explosive popularity of Tory Burch’s
ballet flats, Cuce is producing NFL flats made from “synthetic leather” with team marks replacing the Tory Burch logo. They’ll be priced around $80 at retail.

We also enjoyed the handbags and accessories from Little Earth and the fetching apparel designs from new apparel licensee Meesh & Mia. Even outside of apparel, female tastes are affecting an increasing portion of the

Products pointed toward women blossomed at the NFL Consumer Products Summit, including the Team Wine Shoe from Team Sports America (top), ballet flats from Cuce and Meesh & Mia tops.
licensed sports marketplace. There were some snickers from other hard-goods licensees a few years ago when Team Sports America began selling a $39.99 logoed wine bottle stand, fashioned after a high-heeled pump. However, the “Team Wine Shoe” has been the company’s top-selling NFL product for the past two years. Perhaps it’s a demonstration of the power inherent in combining female NFL fans’ passion for their favorite teams with their inner Imelda Marcos. “Women love shoes, so maybe it’s as simple as that,” said Jaclyn Smith, regional account executive for parent company Evergreen Enterprises.

Collegiate-logoed versions are next, though we were told the University of Alabama rejected the opportunity.

> RUSHING IN: With an eye toward attracting kids to the NFL, the league has been pushing for licensee support around its “Rush Zone” Nicktoons cartoon property for several years and it looks like it’s starting to gain some traction. Around 30 licensees are onboard and a planned premium promotion by new league sponsor McDonald’s this fall should also help garner support. “There’s definitely momentum and we have filled some good [licensing] categories,” said Kane. “We want to claim that kid space with some big toy deals.”

(Left) PPW replaces familiar colors with NFL team logos on the branded Rubik’s Cubes. (Right) Chin scratcher: Pro Specialty Group’s inflatable fake beard, only $4.99.
> LICENSING LINES: While there was no showstopper product, there were plenty of highlights within the toy category. PPW’s NFL team-logoed Rubik’s Cubes struck us as a nice update on a classic. Laser Pegs, a clever combination of a Lego-like construction toy and Lite Brite, caught a lot of eyes but we’re not quite sure what an NFL license added to an already-nifty toy. Those aerodynamically inclined could choose between Sports Logo Lights’ NFL-logoed remote control helmet helicopter ($64.99), which projects a team logo as it flies, or Pangea Brand’s NFL-logoed revival of the classic rubber band-powered balsa glider ($5.99). … Newest entrants of the NFL’s “million-dollar club” of licensees who have sold enough to generate a million in royalties for the league were Boelter Brands and The Memory Company, testimony to the continued vibrancy of “homegating” and domestic products, like drinkware … New to our “never saw a logo on that before” category includes Hall of Fame QB Jim Kelly’s MyFanClip, a multipurpose binder clip with a logo with NFL, NASCAR and NCAA licenses; Fan Creations’ tissue box cozy ($19.99); Pro Specialty Group’s logoed and inflatable fake beard ($4.99) and Team Sports America’s hefty NFL licensed flyswatter ($8), in the shape of a football helmet.

Terry Lefton can be reached at