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Volume 23 No. 28
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Mercedes kicks the tires on college football

High-profile college games in Atlanta encouraged Mercedes-Benz to partner with the CFP.
When Mercedes-Benz moved its U.S. headquarters to Atlanta last year and bought naming rights to the Falcons’ new stadium, the former CEO, Steve Cannon, described it as planting a flag in the city.

The next step was to find out how the luxury car brand could maximize those naming rights.

One of the biggest media initiatives for Mercedes-Benz is a College Football Playoff sponsorship that’s new this season. The deal was negotiated and sold through the CFP’s rights holder, ESPN.

College Football
Playoff Official Sponsors

Capital One
 Dos Equis    
 Dr Pepper
 Gatorade  Goodyear  Mercedes-Benz
 Northwestern Mutual
 Taco Bell

Source: ESPN

Mercedes is one of three automotive brands that have CFP partnerships, along with Nissan and Ford. General Motors was a CFP sponsor during the first three years of the new property but dropped out after last season, opening a spot for Mercedes.

The timing could not have been better.

With the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium opening this season with two high-profile college games on Labor Day weekend, and the season culminating this January in the same venue with the CFP championship game, Mercedes leaped at the opportunity for a multiyear partnership in the city where it has planted its flag.

The deal, believed to be in the low eight figures annually, provides Mercedes with presenting rights to the ESPN halftime report throughout the regular season for the prime-time game. Mercedes works with Merkley + Partners and Engine Shop, both agencies out of New York.

Once the postseason returns college football to Atlanta for the national championship on Jan. 8, Mercedes will again sponsor the halftime report.

Perhaps just as important is the integration that Mercedes will receive into the broadcast as the stadium’s naming-rights sponsor. Through its stadium deal, Mercedes has its vehicles and branding throughout the venue, something ESPN is expected to capture in the broadcast, and a primary way Mercedes hopes to extract maximum value from its sponsorship.

In addition to the CFP deal, which easily qualifies as Mercedes’ most significant spend in college football, the brand also has a sponsorship with University of Alabama athletics as an official sponsor. The deal with Crimson Tide Sports Marketing, a Learfield property, is a tie-in to Mercedes’ massive plant in Tuscaloosa, and provides another attractive activation point as the Tide rolls toward what could be a third straight appearance in the CFP title game.

Mercedes officials declined comment.