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Volume 21 No. 42

Marketing and Sponsorship

A little more than 18 months after being acquired by CSM North America, LeadDog Marketing has risen to the head of the class as part of an agency rollup.


Dan Mannix, who founded LeadDog in 1999, has been elevated to president of CSM North America, which will include five different divisions. Meanwhile, under a re-org, LeadDog is being integrated with CSM North America’s Brands group into a new entity: CSM LeadDog, combining strategy and insights with activation capabilities.Under the restructuring, Mannix will report to Matthew Vandrau, global CEO of CSM Sport & Entertainment. Harlan Stone, to whom Mannix had reported, continues as chairman. Gina Hagedorn, a 14-year LeadDog employee, is being promoted to the newly created role of COO for CSM LeadDog.

Dan Mannix is new president of CSM NA.
Photo: marc bryan-brown

Rob McQueen, who was appointed president of CSM North America in October 2016, and more recently was president of the Brands division, is leaving the company June 15. McQueen said he left the organization on good terms and plans to establish a local special-needs after-school program with his wife, before possibly returning to the marketing business in the fall.

Dave Mingey will continue to run corporate consulting, which will be housed within CSM LeadDog. Other units within CSM North America include the U.S. club soccer and youth sports division, headed by Kevin Payne, and the former JMI motorsports office in Indianapolis, headed by Ashlee Huffman.

In addition, there’s CSM Production, where Jay Howard remains president, based in Charlotte, while Matt Grandis and Ross Meltzer continue to jointly head CSM’s properties group.

CSM North America was fashioned over the past five years with the acquisition of several marketing agencies, including JMI, GlideSlope, SJX Partners, LeadDog and JHE Production. The company now has 400 people across eight cities.

Parent holding company Chime has been majority-owned by Providence Equity Partners since 2015.

Ever since CBS announced that it will air the inaugural game of Charlie Ebersol’s Alliance of American Football six days after the “Tiffany Network” televises Super Bowl LIII next Feb. 3, we’ve had a single burning query: Will the NFL permit CBS to promote its new football league within Super Bowl programming, annually the top-rated show on television?

Surprisingly — at least to us — it turns out the answer is yes.

“It shouldn’t surprise you that we informed the NFL about we were doing this and they are pretty agnostic,” CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus said during a recent Q&A in Stamford, Conn., presented by the Fairfield County Sports Commission. “They don’t look at it as a threat to what they are doing. They look at it more as a developmental league.”

CBS’s Sean McManus said the NFL sees the venture as a developmental league, not a competitor.
Photo: getty images

Several senior industry sources said that the AAF will actually air a spot within the Super Bowl itself — breaking a long-standing prohibition on promoting other sports properties on Super Bowl air. McManus did not specifically confirm that but said Super Bowl programming on CBS will be used to promote the AAF.

“We were not looking for a spring football league,” he said, “[but] the more we heard about what Charlie’s vision was, the more we thought, ‘This is worth taking a flyer on.’”

With the TV upfront sales period underway, McManus said he expects CBS to generate more than $350 million in revenue from the Super Bowl, including pregame, postgame and the game itself.

“Indications are we’ll get more than $5 million per [30-second] spot … and we’ll generate more [revenue] than NBC did last year and we’ll exceed our $350 million from three years ago,” McManus said. “If you want to reach a certain amount of people, you pay that $4 million. If you’re an advertising agency buying for Apple or Gillette or some big company — kind of a game of chicken — you don’t want to get closed out.”

NEW COLLEGE TRY: The College Football Playoff is looking more and more like the Super Bowl. Now, with the upcoming CFP championship game at Levi’s Stadium next January, San Francisco 49ers marketers are selling host committee sponsorships just like the Big Game.

Six CFP Host Committee Funding Partnerships are on the market, with a mid-six-figure-per-package tag apiece, designed to help fund various regional activities behind the CFP. Brent Schoeb, 49ers vice president of corporate partnerships, said they are being careful not to infringe on categories held or pursued by rights holder ESPN or the CFP.

In search of branding, data storage provider Datrium, from nearby Sunnyvale, Calif., is the first to sign on. The host committee assets include presenting sponsorship of the volunteer program, tickets and hospitality, a kickoff luncheon and some community relations initiatives.

“The Niners are our bread and butter, obviously,” Schoeb said, “but we’ve got some top-level college football and even some high school games here people need to know more about.”

The 49ers are also selling sponsorships surrounding the Pac-12 Football Championship Game at Levi’s Stadium next November, as well as assets including title sponsorship to the former Foster Farms Bowl.

Now approaching their fifth NFL season at Levi’s Stadium, Schoeb said the 49ers have achieved record sponsorship revenue each year at the facility and are on pace this year to have the second-biggest contractually obligated income year in franchise history — already well into eight figures.

Terry Lefton can be reached at

Hulu and Great Clips have signed postseason partnerships with the NHL for this year, with Hulu also serving as the on-air presenting sponsor of NBC Sports’ pregame show. Jägermeister, which also signed to support the postseason and is sponsoring the league’s bracket challenge, is extending its partnership to cover next season as well.


NHL Chief Revenue Officer Keith Wachtel said that while the revenue from the sponsorships is just an incremental addition to the league’s overall book of business, much of the value has come from the activation. For example, Hulu also partnered with the NHLPA on a video vignette series that will showcase NHL stars and has created a hockey-specific collection on its service during the playoffs, while Great Clips has been running a digital campaign celebrating “hockey hair.”

While the NHL will look to do additional deals like this in the future, Wachtel said it would stay away from playoff-only partnerships in the more competitive categories like soft drinks and would not allow for repeat playoff-only partners.

“We understand its use as a proof of concept, but for us it’s a funnel to bigger and broader deals — if there’s no interest in that, there won’t be a second chance next postseason,” he said.

NBA sponsors are immersed in postseason marketing activation, which will culminate in the first presenting sponsorship of the league’s championship finals, beginning May 31.


YouTube TV is the big story, as it will be presenting sponsor of the NBA Finals after similarly being the first presenting sponsor of Major League Baseball’s World Series last year.

“You’ll see them integrated into everything we and our partners are doing around the finals,” said Kerry Tatlock, the league’s senior vice president of global marketing partnerships. 

YouTube TV will have logo integration on the court and have 30- and 60-second themed creative promoting tune-in during the finals.

Among more traditional sponsors, Anheuser-Busch InBev is replicating a perennial March Madness promotion with a bracket contest for its Budweiser brand. A $1 million top prize is being offered to anyone with a perfect bracket — correctly selecting the winner of each playoff series and the precise number of games in each matchup. This marks the first time a sponsor has aligned a bracket contest with the NBA playoffs.

American Express has NBA-themed TV and social creative as part of its new retro-inspired brand campaign. AmEx is one of eight league sponsors running new themed ads during the playoffs, with State Farm, Gatorade, Kaiser Permanente and Kumho Tire running new spots as well.

Movie studios leveraging the NBA postseason are Sony Pictures, touting “The Equalizer 2” with a promotion during the finals, preceded by a push for the latest “Star Wars” movie, “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” in the conference finals.

Taco Bell will stage its popular “Steal A Game, Steal A Taco” promotion during the NBA Finals, in which a road team victory wins consumers free tacos.

Nike is dropping eight new shoes during the playoffs, including two from Converse, and the Air Force 1 “Fo’, Fi’, Fo’” an homage to the late Moses Malone, whose historical utterance “Fo, Fo, Fo” was nearly prescient during the Philadelphia 76ers’ 1983 title run.

Under Armour paired its release of the Curry 5 shoe with a Steph Curry trivia app.

Sponsors paying off sweepstakes promotions with postseason trips include ExxonMobil, Mountain Dew and Tissot, while Ruffles is running a “Crunch Time” on-pack promotion.