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Volume 22 No. 12
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Hyundai’s next move; Sleep Number rests easily

Marc Bluestein (left) and Tim Brown discuss the launch of H2H.
Photo: Terry Lefton / staff

News picked up from a week on the ground in Atlanta

WE’RE STILL HERE: Hyundai CMO Dean Evans said that while the company is not renewing its NFL corporate sponsorship, it is not walking away from the league. “We’re still sports-oriented and NFL-oriented, we just moved our chess pieces around,” he said, pointing to Hyundai’s five team sponsorships and presenting sponsorship of NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” pregame show as evidence.


As for next season? “We’re plowing all those dollars right back into NFL media,” Evans said, adding that while the NFL sponsorship increased various brand metrics for the Korean car brand, dealers prefer broadcast entitlements because they “really allow you to stand out” among the morass of ads in a typical NFL telecast.


This year marked Hyundai’s 11th year advertising in the Super Bowl out of the last dozen, a trend Evans sees continuing.


Without NFL corporate sponsorship rights, Hyundai will have far less on-the-ground activation at the Super Bowl, but “we have enough dealers addicted to this trip, so we’ll still be here in force,” he said, with a laugh. A total of 100 dealers and their spouses were being entertained by Hyundai in Atlanta.


SLEEP ON IT: During an appearance by Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott at Sleep Number’s Super Bowl Experience activation, SVP/CMO Kevin Brown said that after a year with NFL and NFLPA rights, he’s sleeping easier. More than 1,800 NFL players have purchased one of the company’s high-end mattresses via substantial discount, helping to increase social media buzz exponentially. A national TV campaign with Minnesota Vikings QB Kirk Cousins drove traffic to the company’s website — where more than 90 percent of purchases start, Brown said, adding that awareness is at near-record levels and an amalgam buzz metric has never been higher. As for adjustments for the second of Sleep Number’s five-year NFL pact? “We’re a performance brand, so with all those players using our products, we want to be out there telling their stories,” he said.


EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW: A familiar figure represented Turner Sports in its recent broadcast negotiations with the fledgling Alliance of American Football. It was former NFL consumer products chief and current 16W partner Frank Vuono — with The Montag Group’s Sandy Montag on the other side of the table.


Vuono said he’s impressed with some of the tech money behind the AAF, considering how big a role interactivity and wagering is expected to play with the AAF.


“So far, they’ve avoided the mistakes of the past,” said Vuono, who was COO of the defunct United Football League, which lasted from 2009-12. “The NFL definitely needs a developmental league, especially for offensive linemen, and that’s where they say they are heading.”


HALLOWED HALLS: Former Notre Dame and NFL star WR Tim Brown is heading a group launching H2H — a legacy marketing property composed of players who have won the Heisman Trophy and have been enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Aside from Brown, they are Marcus Allen, Earl Campbell, Tony Dorsett, Paul Hornung, Barry Sanders, O.J. Simpson, Roger Staubach and Doak Walker. Simpson is not part of the marketing consortium, for obvious reasons.


Brown, who sold his Heisman Trophy a few years back, said he and other winners have been frustrated with the marketing restrictions surrounding the trophy, which include the Heisman assertion that no one else can display the award publicly. Still, Brown said the impetus for H2H was both for commercial reasons and to create a force for social change and community-based educational programs.


Marc Bluestein’s Aquarius Sports and Entertainment is handling marketing and sales. Bluestein hopes to launch H2H as a content series and then extend into events, licensing, marketing and promotional opportunities.


GREENER PASTURES: Ari Roitman, Philadelphia Eagles senior vice president of business, has left the team after eight years. In Atlanta, Roitman said the decision was mutual and made in September. He called his tenure with the team “incredibly gratifying” and offered thanks to ownership. Next for Roitman: Pivot Consulting Group, his startup sales and marketing consultancy, with capabilities including business development, sponsorship activation, premium sales and retention, along with TV, radio and digital monetization strategies.

First Look podcast, with Super Bowl LIII and NFL offseason discussion at the 8:24 mark:

You can also download the First Look transcript.