Sunday, January 28, 2007

Home Depot’s Sports Marketing Portfolio

While Home Depot may have switched its CEO recently and had concerns with profit numbers, the company still understands the importance of sports sponsorship. They continue to find innovative ways to get in front of their target audience – men.

The company has become a major, major player in the world of sports sponsorships. They are on the same plateau as Coke, MasterCard, Visa and even Bank of America.

Sponsorships contracts include

* The Olympic Games
* Olympic Employment Program
* The Home Depot Center
* National Football League
* NASCAR Racing
* Six Flags
* The Home Depot Coach of the Year Award
* Federación Mexicana de Fύtbol (Mexican National Soccer Team)
* International Speedway Corporation
* Local team sponsorships: The Home Depot also has local team sponsorship agreements with the Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners, Atlanta Falcons, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington Redskins, Denver Broncos, Phoenix Suns, Atlanta Hawks/Atlanta Thrashers/Philips Arena, Kane County Cougars Chicago ADI), Yakima Bears, Georgia Institute of Technology Yellow Jackets and University of Hawaii.

The Atlanta Business Chronicle noted the following additional sponsorships that were recently signed:

* Home Depot reported a multi-year integrated marketing partnership making it the "official home improvement sponsor' of the National Football League." Home Depot said its partnership includes marketing rights to the Super Bowl, Pro Bowl, community affairs activities, NFL Network-related programming and designates it as the presenting sponsor of The NFL Experience theme park.

* Home Depot became the official postgame sponsor of NFL Network's eight regular season games, called "The Home Depot PostGame Show," which began on Thanksgiving night and ran through the final week of the regular season. Also under the agreement, The Home Depot obtains rights to NFL Kickoff, NFL Playoffs, Super Bowl XLI, XLII, XLIII, the 2007, 2008 and 2009 Pro Bowls.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Top 5 Super Bowl Advertisers: 1987-2006

Top 5 Super Bowl Advertisers: 1987-2006

According to TNS Media Intelligence, below are a list of the top five Super Bowl advertisers:

1. Anheuser Busch - $250.8 million spent (20 years in game)
2. Pepsico- $190.0 million spent (20 years in game)
3. General Motors - $65.7 million spent (15 years in game)
4. Time Warner - $63.4 million spent (11 years in game)
5. Walt Disney - $43.5 million spent (7 years in game)

Top 5 Total: $613.4 million spent

Sponsorships Still Brings in Strong ROI

Every company has their own feelings about sponsorships. With the amount of advertising in today’s economy, sponsorships can provide businesses with the opportunity to connect with a targeted audience. Below are some interesting factoid numbers about sponsorships in North America:

"North American marketers will spend nearly $15 billion on sponsorship rights fees this year, according to projections from sponsorship consultancy IEG, Inc. IEG estimates spending will hit $14.93 billion this year, up 11.7% from 2006. Spending last year was $13.37 billion, itself a 10.5% increase over 2005. Sports will capture the biggest portion of sponsorship fees, a projected $9.9 billion, up 10.8% from last year, IEG projects."

Top 10 Foods Eaten on Super Bowl Sunday

Top 10 Foods Eaten on Super Bowl Sunday
% of dinner meals containing the following food

Vegetables ¬ 29%
Potatoes - 23%
Salads - 14%
Sandwiches - 13%
Poultry- 12%
Total Salty Snacks - 12%
Beef - 10%
Pizza - 10%
Bread - 10%
Soup - 7%

Source: The NPD Group/National Eating Trends

ESPN’s SportsCenter is like the Energizer Bunny

Who would have thought back in the early eighties that SportsCenter would still be around? It’s been amazing to watch as the show continues to evolve. Interesting factoid:

According to Broadcasting & Cable:

"ESPN flagship highlight show SportsCenter will celebrate its 30,000th live episode on Sunday, February 11 at 11 p.m. ET. ESPN anchors Stuart Scott and Steve Levy will host the show, which will weave special retrospective segments into a traditional SportsCenter edition. Scott and Levy will be joined by current and former SportsCenter anchors including longtime SportsCenter staple and current Outside the Lines host Bob Ley."

Sunday, January 21, 2007

NASCAR and Kelly Clarkson?

I have always been impressed with NASCAR and its marketing initiatives. The league has some of the most passionate sports fans in the world and NASCAR sponsors know the fans will purchase their products.

While NASCAR has a foothold on the South, the organization continues to make inroads with the Five Avenue Crew in NYC. From the creation of the Chase for the Cup, to the new cap of teams, it could be argued that NASCAR is now one of the “Big Four” sports along with the NFL, NBA and MLB.

NASCAR decided to copy the other sports leagues by hiring a pop star, Kelly Clarkson, to promote the sport this season.

"Under the deal, Clarkson will be featured in a TV spot and make appearances at charitable initiatives and at an NASCAR awards dinner. She will also headline an at-track concert. The partnership begins Feb. 18 when the singer headlines a musical event titled the Nextel Tribute to America on the Fox network, NASCAR said.

In addition, Clarkson will be a spokesperson and ambassador for the fourth annual NASCAR day on May 18. There, she will appear in an ad campaign promoting the event for the NASCAR Foundation. The ad will break during the Daytona 500."

Here’s my question? Will NASCAR fans accept Clarkson? Historically, most NASCAR fans listen to country music. When NHIS in Loudon holds concerts after races, it’s always with country music fans. Hopefully, this relationship with Clarkson will help the sport connect with additional fans who may follow Clarkson on a regular basis.

Women and Sports Marketing

While it has taken way too much time, it is refreshing to see that sports teams and leagues in general, are finally marketing their products to women. As we know, the NFL, NBA and MLB in particular have developed clothing specifically for women. In the past, it seemed, most items of clothing were almost the same as men’s clothing except for the size.

Spending a percentage of marketing dollars towards women is essential for any team – new revenue streams, easier way to bring families to games and if today’s environment it is almost fashionable in some cities to go on dates at sporting events.

According to research from Initiative Sports Futures, Initiative’s global sports consultancy division, "more and more women are watching the world’s top sporting events. For the top TV sports event of 2006, the FIFA World Cup Final (Italy vs. France), Initiative found that women accounted for 41 percent of the global audience, a larger share than ever before. Two years before, for the UEFA European Football Championship, women made up 40 percent of the TV audience. And during World Cup 2002, women were 39 percent of the audience."

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Super Bowl Ads Price Too High?

I wondered when the day would come when the Super Bowl ads priced themselves too high for advertisers. CBS paid millions of dollars to gain the right to host the game. They know the game is one of the most watched events around the world so they can charge a pretty penny. Have they finally reached their breaking point?

According to an article in Advertising Age, "With just three weeks to go -- game day is Feb. 4 -- only 13 advertisers have fessed up to buying spots in the big game. And of those, just a handful -- Anheuser-Busch, Chevrolet, Doritos and Diamond's Emerald Nuts and NFL -- have hyped their presence with pregame marketing."

"Some of the advertisers just don't want to say who they are," one CBS executive said. "This has something to do with creative and the dollars, the publicity about spending $2.6 million on a spot."

This is a problem. In years past, companies spent a lot of time hyping up their commericals via PR and marketing before the big game. Companies now are looking at new ways to break away from the clutter.

From today’s USA Today:

"For most Super Bowl advertisers, the punch line of their big-budget ad is a closely guarded secret until it airs. Only hints about plot or celebrity stars are dropped to try to tease interest. Even more unusual, Nationwide plans to post the ad on its website on Jan. 29 — a week before the big game — and may post it elsewhere, too, such as on YouTube. Like most game advertisers, it put its 2006 Super Bowl ad online only after the game."

It will be interesting to see if CBS is able to raise the price for ads next year. There is going to come a time when Board of Directors and stockholders are going to frown if companies are spending three million dollars for one 30 second ad.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Visa Going Public? How Will This Affect Sports Marketing?

Maybe I am behind the eight ball here, but I recently learned that Visa announced in 2007 it’s going to create a public company called Visa, Inc. Most people in the sports marketing industry know how involved Visa is with sports sponsorships. The company’s sponsorships include NASCAR, IOC, NFL, U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, USA Gymnastics, USA Track & Field and the Kentucky Derby.

Throughout the years, Visa has done an amazing job promoting its company through its sports sponsorships. Who cannot forget those Visa + Olympics commercials? I assume Visa has longstanding contracts with most of the sports industries.

Here’s my problem – once Visa goes public, sports sponsorships become a cost center and not a cost generator. That could become a serious problem to share holders and the Board of Directors. When a company looks at the bottom line at the end of the year, how do they quantify a dollar amount for the sponsorships? These sponsorships are for relationship building, generating company awareness, providing incentive opportunities to employees, etc. It’s tough to say the company secured X number of new cardholders because the sponsorships.

When things start to go south at public companies, what’s the first thing to go – sports sponsorships. You might say, “The company is committed since they have contracts.” I know from experience, you can buy your way out of a lot of contracts.
I know nothing about the inner workings of Visa’s sports marketing department, but it will be interesting to look back in two or three years to see how many sport sponsorship agreements the company still has.

MIT Sloan Business Conference

Editor’s Note: I am not affiliated with this organization. I wish I was smart enough. I heard about this event and wanted to pass it along. If you are able to come to Boston, it should be an interesting afternoon.

The inaugural MIT Sloan Sports Business Conference is scheduled for February 10 th at MIT's Sloan School of Management. The conference is hosted by MIT Sloan's Entertainment, Media and Sports Club.

Conference Goals

To create a forum for discussing the increasing role of analytics in the sports industry. The conference will bring together sports industry professionals (executives and leading researchers) with students interested in the changing dynamics of the sports industry. This will be a unique educational opportunity and will provide exclusive occasions for learning, interacting, and networking.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

No Additional Blogs Until Jan. 12

I am off to Park City to go skiing for a couple of days so there will be no additional blogs until Jan. 12.

Question of the Day for Dunkin Donuts

Out of the plethora of Dunkin Donuts commercials that are in rotation at the moment, have you seen the one with Olympic snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler? Unless I have missed something, they never show her face in the commercial. That seems strange because Gretchen is attractive and an extremely nice person. She is a corporate sponsor’s dream, she is very articulate and an ideal person to represent any company. Editor’s Note: I have spoken with Gretchen in the past.

Now this may sound really strange, but would Dunkin’ have had to pay more to show her face? I don’t know. I would be surprised if they didn’t take the opportunity to show it.

Side Note: It will be interesting to see what role sports marketing plays with the revamped Dunkin Donuts marketing campaign. There were rumors this fall the company was going to create a sports marketing division, but this was put on hold indefinitely. I don’t know the exact details, but I’m sure the corporate office does not have a large marketing budget and individual regions across the country handle their own marketing.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Sports Marketing to Grow for Proctor and Gamble

2007 should be an extremely interesting year for P&G and its role with sports marketing. In the past, the company’s sports marketing involvement revolved around its Tide sponsorship with NASCAR. The company offered a plethora of consumer products, but stuck with traditional marketing practices. Now that P&G purchased Gillette, the company will have the ability to learn from gurus on how to secure ROI from sports sponsorships.

In Boston, Gillette has always been considered a leader in sports sponsorship along with Bank of America, John Hancock, New Balance and Reebok. Now the leaders in Boston are New Balance, FSG, W. B. Mason and Reebok.

Eric Kraus has overseen Gillette’s sports marketing division for years. While I have never met him personally, I have heard nothing but great things about him. The company sponsors the football stadium at Foxboro and I believe they use to have sponsorships with the Celtics and Bruins, but that is not confirmed.

According to an article I read last month, "P&G has created a sports marketing ‘center of expertise’ to explore new opportunities--an initiative with roots in a ‘best practices review’ Gillette conducted before the merger. The results have been transferred to P&G."

If P&G is smart and they listen to Kraus, I’d expect them to sign some pretty impressive sports sponsorship deals this year.

Sports-Related: Strange Marriage Proposal

First companies are offering fans the opportunity to develop commercials to be shown during the Super Bowl and now a gentleman wants to propose to his wife in a commercial during the Big Game.

According to Advertising Age, "The idea of proposing to his girlfriend through an ad on the biggest TV event of the year came to J.P. during the summer, and since September, he's been chronicling his quest on"

Why did I blog about this? I understand the Super Bowl is a carnival with the commercials, concert and pre-game show, the game is almost an afterthought. Everyone wants their fifteen minutes of fame, but this is a little much.