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Volume 22 No. 14
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Wheaties strikes PBA League deal

The Professional Bowlers Association and Wheaties have reached a deal to have the General Mills brand come on as a sponsor for both the 2015 PBA League playoffs later this month as well as for one of the competing clubs.

The deal, expected to be announced this week, provides for on-site signage at the March 28-30 event in Portland, Maine. It also calls for 30-second commercials on the subsequent broadcast coverage of the event, which will air on ESPN on March 29, April 5, April 12 and April 19.

CLARK
“We’ve been really working hard to continually make bowling relevant, and we feel like it’s really paying off this year,” said PBA Commissioner Tom Clark. “Wheaties is an iconic brand, and to have them attach their name to us is very exciting.”

Financial terms of the deal were not available. Shamrock Sports & Entertainment, the PBA’s strategic marketing and sales agency, negotiated the agreement.

In addition to the event signage and broadcast time, Wheaties will sponsor PBA League team L.A. X, which is owned by Los Angeles Clippers all-star Chris Paul. The league portion of the PBA’s schedule stands out to potential sponsors because it features teams competing rather than individuals, Clark said.

“During the rest of the year, a brand can sponsor a player or multiple players and kind of gamble on that player making the finals and being on ESPN,” he said. “During the league season, you know for a fact that your team is going to be on ESPN.”

Wheaties’ deal with the PBA comes as the bowling association is enjoying a 22 percent increase in television ratings for its events overall, including pro competitions, over last season. Clark attributed those gains to the PBA’s Sunday afternoon time slots this year: following “SportsCenter” for three consecutive weeks and “NFL Countdown” before the Super Bowl on the Sunday before that. Such standardized tune-in times did not exist last year.

“PBA is a high-energy organization, and bowling has really grown in popularity, so it was a great opportunity for us,” said Jamie Lyon, associate marketing manager for Wheaties. “We have a history with working with so many iconic athletes. There’s something about bowling that’s very classic.”

Josh Carpenter is a staff writer for SportsBusiness Daily.