Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 21 No. 1

Marketing and Sponsorship

Emirates has signed a deal to become the founding partner and exclusive international airline of the Guinness International Champions Cup, the eight-team soccer tournament that comes to the United States this week and culminates with a final in Miami on Aug. 7.

Also, Adidas has signed on as provider of the official ball and apparel sponsor of the tournament, and Geico and Toyota Scion have been named official sponsors.

Terms of the deals were unavailable. The agreements were made on behalf of the tournament by Insignia Sports & Entertainment, a sister company at RSE Ventures of Relevent Sports, which is organizing the event. Insignia worked on the deals directly with representatives of the four brands, without agency involvement.

“Corporate partners continue to show huge enthusiasm for soccer and for being a part of this brand new property,” said Peter Murray, Insignia president and CEO.

The tournament, which will be broadcast on Fox and Fox Soccer, features European clubs Real Madrid, Chelsea, A.C. Milan, Juventus, Inter Milan, Valencia and Everton along with MLS’s Los Angeles Galaxy. After kicking off in Spain this past weekend, six U.S. venues will play host to matches in the coming days, ending with the championship at Sun Life Stadium.

Emirates, which is the sole founding partner of the tournament, plans to promote its new route from New York to Milan. It receives as part of its agreement sideline signage, on-site activation, tickets and hospitality, among other deal points. Geico, Adidas and Scion receive in-stadium video board and public address announcements, digital and social media promotion, and tickets and hospitality. Scion also will have car displays at the sites of the matches.

IMG Academy, the Florida-based development and training complex operated by IMG, has struck a multiyear deal designating online recruiting destination BeRecruited as its official collegiate athletic recruiting partner.

San Francisco-based BeRecruited will provide recruiting resources to IMG Academy camp and event participants, and receive extensive on-site branding, marking the company’s first offline marketing. IMG Academy athletes will be featured in a dedicated page on BeRecruited’s website, and the two entities will conduct cross-promotional and social media campaigns.

BeRecruited thus far has positioned itself as a key resource for non-elite high school athletes to be discovered by college coaches and seek out athletic scholarships and financial aid. The IMG alignment exposes the company to more top-tier youth athletes, but BeRecruited said its core mission remains the same.

“This doesn’t change our goal at all,” said Vishwas Prabhakara, BeRecruited chief executive. “What we’re about is providing more opportunities for student athletes to go to college, and this relationship absolutely does that. And being involved with a pre-eminent brand and entity like IMG, we think, sends a very strong message to the marketplace.”

Financial terms for the partnership were not disclosed.

“We have evaluated many recruiting service providers over the years in various capacities,” said Gary Pluchino, IMG Performance vice president of business development. “But none match the breadth of BeRecruited’s reach or are aligned as well with our current efforts to help link student athletes with their dream schools.”

Through deals with broadcast rights holders, MetLife blimps have been hovering over PGA Tour events since 1987, but under a new rights agreement, the insurer is an official marketing partner of the tour for the first time.

The MetLife blimp is a common sight over PGA Tour events.
Under a four-year deal, which runs through 2016, MetLife also gets increased hospitality options on the PGA Tour and a number of designations, including “Official Life Insurance Company of the PGA Tour and Champions Tour.”

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Citing the 800 telecasts of PGA Tour events being shown around the world this year, Richard Hong, MetLife vice president of global brand and marketing, said the international marketing rights granted under the deal were paramount.

“Extending those rights globally is the reason we did this deal,” Hong said. “As MetLife becomes more global, we are looking for more properties we can activate around the world. We are such an integral part of PGA Tour broadcasts with our blimps and this ensures they’ll be seen everywhere. Golf aligns with a lot of our key targets, especially C-level executives.”

MetLife also has an LPGA affiliation, through which it conducts golf clinics for women. Other insurers with PGA Tour commercial affiliations include Aflac and Travelers.

Terry Lefton
The Doctor is in with the St. Louis Rams. Dr Pepper Snapple Group is close to completing a deal that would make it the exclusive soft drink sponsor of the Rams. Sources said the deal was still in its final stages last week, but some Dr Pepper mentions and branding were already on the team’s website, and Dr Pepper was expected to have massive signage and be sold at the Rams’ training camp when it opened last week.

Dr Pepper Ten is presenting sponsor of the Rams’ training camp.
Sources pegged the deal, under which Dr Pepper Snapple Group is installing new beverage lines at the Edward Jones Dome, at around $5 million over the five-year term of the agreement. The term is interesting to note, since the Rams’ lease at Edward Jones Dome is up in two years.

Pepsi was the Rams’ soft-drink sponsor for the past eight years.

The company will leverage mostly against Dr Pepper but also involve its other brands.
This is the third NFL team sponsorship for Dr Pepper Snapple Group, which also has an exclusive deal with the Chicago Bears and shares the Dallas Cowboys rights with Pepsi. Pepsi and Coke dominate the beverage landscape at NFL stadia with 15 teams apiece. However, the rights for the San Francisco 49ers will flip from Coke to Pepsi in 2014.

Dr Pepper Snapple Group picks up rights across its beverage portfolio, which includes A&W Root Beer, RC Cola, Snapple and Sunkist brands, but will leverage mostly against Dr Pepper. The group’s Deja Blue water also is included in the deal, which means the end of a private-label water deal that the Rams did last season.
Dr Pepper Snapple Group will activate with Rams branding on more than 5 million bottles and cans of beverages in the St. Louis market.

Leaving the field hasn’t slowed Barry Sanders’ endorsement career.
“We’ve got a partner who really will be active in this market, so that makes us happier than anything,” said Rams CMO Bob Reif, who would not comment on specific deal points.

> BARRYBALL: At a time when the murder charge against Aaron Hernandez is making some skittish about athlete endorsements in general, and NFL athletes more specifically, we’re intrigued that Barry Sanders, who hasn’t carried the ball in around 15 years, has more endorsements than most of today’s most elusive NFL ball carriers.

Sanders, 45, has deals for the upcoming season with Nissan for the “House of Heisman,” which has print ads and eight TV ads; with Pepsi, including two TV ads for Pepsi and Frito-Lay for an on-pack and point-of-sale-supported promotion; with Verizon for print ads; on the cover of EA Sports’ 25th anniversary version of the "Madden NFL Football" video game; signed insert sets with NFL trading card licensees Panini, Topps and Upper Deck; and is a national spokesman for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Gridiron Glory traveling exhibit.

Jeff Bernstein’s Seven Figures Management handles marketing for Sanders.
> EXPANDING BLOGOSPHERE:  In its first deal since moving its rights in-house, the WNBA Players Association has signed Web aggregator as the hoops league’s exclusive blogging destination. While WNBA players are not obligated to put their blogs on, those who do will be paid. claims it will create the largest network of WNBA player blogs, and it also will administer the WNBA’s official blog.

Ben Sturner (left) has added Jay Williams
(center) and Brad Brown to the Leverage lineup.
The blogs started posting July 1.

> COMINGS & GOINGS: Brian Papson is the new vice president of marketing for the Philadelphia Eagles, reporting to Ari Roitman, senior vice president of business. Papson’s last position was with the San Antonio Spurs and Spurs Sports & Entertainment for the past four years. He also worked as director of branding and marketing for Villanova University. Papson replaces former Chief Marketing Officer Tim McDermott, who left the team last November. One of Papson’s initial tasks will be to handle the relationship with 160over90, a Philadelphia firm with experience working for the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets, and which was recently hired as the Eagles’ creative and branding agency. … Ben Sturner’s New York City-based Leverage Agency is adding Brad Brown, former Anheuser-Busch vice president, sports and entertainment marketing, to head sports and entertainment consulting, and former Duke hoopster and current ESPN basketball analyst Jay Williams as managing partner. Brown will be based in St. Louis and travel, while Williams will be based in New York City and Los Angeles. “The thought is that I can bring buy-side knowledge to the sell side and really help sponsors activate,” Brown said. As for Williams: “I’ve developed a lot of relationships with CEOs and CMOs, so this is a way to connect the dots, build my basketball brand to the point where I could connect it with business,” he said. … Former Li Ning marketer Brian Cupps joined Adidas in Shanghai as director of basketball, China. Adidas has more than 5,000 branded stores in China. Cupps has also worked for Reebok and And 1.

Terry Lefton can be reached at