Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Microsoft and ESPN are Bedfellows

According to an article in today’s MediaPost, "Microsoft 'bought out' the flagship 11 p.m. ET version of 'SportsCenter' last night, airing seven minutes of commercials during the hour--down from the program's usual 15. The technology giant's initiative focused on its Xbox 360, which is facing a major challenge from the just-released Sony PlayStation 3 as the holiday season approaches."

This is a smart marketing move for Microsoft. They have the opportunity to reach one of their core audiences – sports fans – and their message is not diluted with other commercials during the show. As more shows allow companies to buy out shows, it will be interesting to see who takes advantage on the opportunities and markets their business or product correctly.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

NASCAR Marketing in 2007

According to a recent article released in AdAge, "After an unrelenting six-year streak in which it lapped all other professional sports except football in popularity and TV viewers.. [NASCAR saw an] average TV ratings for the 10 final races of the season, dubbed the 'Chase for the Cup,' dropped 10% from 4.8 to 4.3, and some 31 of the 36 races drew lower TV ratings this year than in 2005."

NASCAR has been a marketing machine over the last decade. Fans and selected media were up in arms about the 'Chase for the Cup' format and it provided millions of dollars in sponsorship revenue, a new television contracts and more fans. The sport recently signed an eight-year, $4.48 billion TV deal with ABC/ESPN -- some 40% higher than the previous agreement with NBC and Fox. The question is, what does the sport need to do now:

· Shorten the season. I know race track owners, businesses around the race track, sponsors, etc, might be horrified with this idea, but the sport has reached it saturation point. Fans get bored of seeing the races week after week. There needs to be more down time some they are counting the days to the next race throughout the year.
· Lower the prices for races. It costs hundreds of dollars for a family to go to a race, park, buy food and purchase souvenirs. I know it costs a lot of money to run an event, but changes need to be made.
· Continue to work with the smaller teams to make them competitive. In any sport, there are going to be small-market teams. Fans will support the underdog who makes a run at the Cup and that can generate additional media interest.
· Make sure to market the new international drivers signed on to compete next year. Hopefully NASCAR’s PR department won’t saturate the media with interviews, but will work with sponsors and high-level reporters to generate interest in the 2007 season.
· Continue to reconnect with your "old timers." A bet a lot of NASCAR fans think the sport is too commercialized. Find ways to promote the benefits of the sport to show fans that the commercialization will help the sport grow. People on the inside understand the benefits, but some people need to be hit over the head.

While I am not a huge fan of NASCAR, I definitely admire the sport in how it’s marketing itself in the 21st century. Every sport has a downturn once in awhile. NASCAR will be able to handle this bump in the road pretty easily.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Bank of America and Sports Marketing

I have always said if I ever get the chance, I would definitely try to work in Bank of America’s sports marketing department. According to the Web site, "Our national commitments and activation activities focus on our major platforms, including baseball, the U.S. Olympic Team, NASCAR racing and golf."

Sponsoring NASCAR was the most recent addition to the organization. According to the AP, "Banking on NASCAR fans' sponsor loyalty to drive more retail business to their ATMs and branches, Charlotte-based Bank of America Corp. has signed a five-year deal as the official bank of the popular racing series. The bank shared details of the agreement with The Associated Press before today's public announcement."

This provides a positive strategic outlet for Bank of America to gain a stronger foothold within the sports industry. The company now sponsors five sports in the top ten in fan viewership. Hopefully, when their marketing team is thinking "outside the box", they will begin to develop cross-sports promotions that draw interest to the Leagues and the Bank itself.

It is refreshing to see that companies still see the benefit in sponsoring sports league. They may not see the numbers grow when looking at the bottom line, but from a relationship-building standpoint, it’s priceless. They can go after high net-worth individuals and almost guarantee they have sporting events tickets the individuals will enjoy. Banks want to create long lasting relationship and hosting hospitality tents at sports events offer an amazing amount of long-term ROI.

Wow…those sports marketing folks must be having a lot of fun in Charlotte.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

No NFL on Turkey Day

Considering the NFL supposedly has the "number one sports slot" with television viewers, I am surprised we have not seen additional national coverage on battle between the NFL and cable operators. A significant amount of NFL fans will not be able to see the games on Thursday. Sponsors cannot be happy with this arrangement.

In an article titled, "Dressler: No NFL Network Deal by Turkey Day," it noted:

"Time Warner Cable subscribers can forget about watching NFL Network’s Denver Broncos-Kansas City Chiefs National Football League game with Thanksgiving dessert, according to the MSO’s executive vice president of programming, Fred Dressler

Operators such as Time Warner, Cablevision Systems and Charter Communications -- which do not have deals with NFL Network -- would have to ante up 70 cents per subscriber and distribute the service on expanded-basic tiers in order to get the games.

Now, one would have to assume, that the NFL is not pushing the media to write about the story. Something just does not make sense. From what I have read, executives would rather people purchase Direct TV which will help the teams more financially in the future.

There is definitely some backroom dealing going on since this issue has stayed pretty quiet.

Manny Is As Good as Gone

Have you noticed the two recent articles in the Boston Globe and Boston Herald on Manny Ramirez? It is extremely interesting that competing papers would both write the same type of column that it's time for Manny to move on.

Boston Globe:

Boston Herald:

Reading between the lines:

· It's extremely rare for two well-known sports columnists to write the same type of story a day apart.

· The Red Sox want to prepare Red Sox Nation for the fact that Manny might be traded soon.

· Someone on the Red Sox tipped off the media and asked them to write this story. My guest is Dr. Charles Steinberg called in a favor, but I could be wrong.

· In the past, when popular player has been on his way out, the media always writes the stories about why the team is better without the player. It happened with Clemens, Nomar, Pedro, D-Lowe, you name it. The Red Sox worked with the Globe, their owners, and the Herald to create pre-emptive damage control before Manny is traded.

Keep your eyes open, but I after reading these two articles, I would be shocked if Manny is with the team through the end of 2006.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Own a Luxury Box or Sponsor the Team?

If I worked in the marketing department for a large corporation who wanted to sponsor a sports team, there are many ways to secure measurable ROI through the investment. The organization can buy ad space in the arena, sponsor an event during halftime or a plethora of other activities. Another way to sponsor a team, since it costs the same, is to purchase a luxury box.

From Friday’s Boston Globe:

"Starting with the 2007 season, suites will cost between $250,000 and $350,000 per year depending on where in Fenway Park they're located, compared with an average of $215,000 last season. The team also is requiring suite owners to commit to them for at least a decade, seven years longer than the current three-year minimum. The capacity in the renovated boxes will increase from 16 to 22."

Considering most sponsorships can be upwards of $300,000 a year, I would recommend purchasing a luxury box instead or ad space in the park. Here’s why:

· The luxury box is a great place for the senior execs to schmooze with prospective clients, city officials or important people in the industry. Who doesn’t want to go see a game from the luxury box?

· The PR department can invite media to attend a game and chat with a senior exec.
· Having an opportunity to go to the luxury box would be a great incentive to the sales team.
· What about company morale overall? You can let different departments attend a game during the year.

Sponsorships with teams can definitely be beneficial to generate exposure for an organization. Sometimes though, companies can be more strategic by meeting with higher-profile people in smaller settings and the company can generate an impressive "word of mouth" campaign for the future.

This is a different way to market a business in the future.

Emerging Trends in Sports Marketing

In this week's SportsBusiness Journal:

"During a talk on emerging trends in sports marketing, AEG president Shawn Hunter identified areas to watch including wireless commerce, broadband channels, secondary ticketing in sports and VIP ‘experiences.’"

There has been a lot of talk recently about how to handle scalping and secondary tickets. Personally, I don’t think anyone will ever be able to create a fair program. A lot of teams are trying to take secondary ticketing in-house, which I think is a good idea. I don’t agree with the idea Ticketmaster is pitching in that whatever organizations sells the tickets originally, should have the opportunity to sell the secondary tickets. Well, Ticketmaster sells a freakin plethora of sports tickets. They would definitely come close to having a monopoly.

In the future, watch the evolution of VIP experiences. This type of service is going to explode in 2007 – I guarantee it. The baby boomers want to attend sporting events, but they also want to meet athletes or play on the athletic field or attend a major league sports camp. They want to feel like VIPs. There is tons of money to make in this industry sector and a lot of companies are developing experiences as we speak.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Who Is Counseling Harold Reynolds?

Harold Reynolds needs a new lawyer or at least a common sense manager. Earlier this month, it was reported that he was taking ESPN to court for lost wagers. Good PR move – not! Um…yeah…that’s like deciding to take Microsoft to court. Do you really want to go up against a 500-pound gorilla?

According to an AP article, "Reynolds is seeking the money owed to him under the remainder of his contract, including interest and lost earnings. He is also asking the court for damages for lost future opportunities."

Here are the facts:

* Everyone who I have spoken with who has met or worked with Reynolds says he is a great guy. They were surprised and shocked at the allegations.

* He is a well-respected commentator who could find work with another outlet.

* ESPN has had a long history of sexual harassment issues at the station. Numerous employees have been suspended or fired in the past. Don’t you think, you might be extra careful if you worked there?

* ESPN is taking the high road through all of this and have not thrown him under a bus.

Why doesn’t Harold take the year off, make money at appearances or work with his charity and come back strong in 2008? I just don’t think you should go poking ESPN to make them respond. Someone should tell him to lay low for a year. People in America get second chances, unless we don’t know the whole picture, I’d expect someone would sign him in a heartbeat in the future.

Great PR Move by the Red Sox

You have got to hand it to the Red Sox PR team. Steinberg, Geffner and the rest of the crew are back on the ball -- finally. Did you see the interesting news that slipped past the fans today:

"The Red Sox confirmed today that the prices of premium seats will rise in 2007. All non-premium tickets, which represent over 80 percent of the Fenway Park seating, will stay the same in 2007. Only the premium ticket prices in the following locations will rise in 2007: private suites, dugout seats, EMC Club, State Street Pavilion Club, and field boxes ... The range of increase is three to five percent in most areas and $10.00 on field boxes."

Now the Red Sox have the most expensive tickets in all of baseball and some of the most expensive (average) in all of sports. With the fans and media on cloud nine about the possible signing of Matsuzaka, no one would make a stink about the raise in ticket prices.

The Red Sox are generating front-page news during the height of football season and the Pats still lead their division. This is one of the smartest PR moves this organization has made in awhile. I tip my cap to them.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Sports Sponsorship $20M a year for 20 years?

I don’t know if you heard the news that Citigroup signed a naming rights contract with the New York Mets for $20 million dollars a year for 20 years? Yes, read that line again. It is, by far, the most money ever paid for a sports sponsorship.

The details of the contract have not been announced. According to MediaPost, some of the items could include:

* Typical sports stadium-naming deals include a litany of items from signage to luxury suites. In Citigroup's case, the deal was enriched by the opportunity to lock up exclusive marketing rights in product categories where it does business--including banking, credit cards, and brokerage services.

* If Citigroup negotiated to handle financing for the stadium or to provide financial services to Mets' management and players and their families, notes Don Hinchey of The Bonham Group, the amount would look like a grand slam for the banker.

Companies looking to spend $20 million dollars on sports sponsorships usually sponsor an all-star game or develop a national sponsorship -- they don’t work with one team.

New York is the financial capital of the world, so if the bank has a smart sports marketing team, over time, this could work. At this time though, the jury is still out.

51 Million for Matsuzaka?

Commentators in the baseball community are going to be talking about this bid for the next couple of days. Will the Sox sign a deal, how will Matsuzaka do in Boston. What people don't realize is while the Red Sox did get the rights to sign a 26-year old pitcher, the other main reason was to start gaining traction by marketing in Japan and China.

While American sports fans are passionate, fans in the Far East take it to another level and baseball players are considered to be Gods. The amount of money fans will spend on Sox memorabilia will be enormous. When Hideki Matsui started playing for the Yankees, more than 150 reporters followed him on a daily basis. Now between 30 to 50 press follow him. How many reporters will follow Matsuzaka?

As we know Matsui and Matsuzaka are two of the more popular athletes in Japan and now they will be playing in the U.S. and will be competing in the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry. The Japanese fans will get “sucked in” to this rivalry as well.

From a business of sports perspective, Fenway Sports Group will do everything in its power to generate additional funds for New England Sports Ventures. The will develop travel packages to the U.S. to watch the Sox, they will have additional tourist come for Fenway tours, they will be able to schedule athlete events in other cities to generate more revenue. Over time, they will see a benefit from this signing.

The Red Sox can also expect to see Japanese advertisers who want to develop a relationship with the Sox and FSG. What about television rights for games in which Matsuzaka pitches? The business opportunities are endless

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Reebok Losing Ground?

There is an article in today's Boston Herald titled, "Adidas: Reebok no shoe-in—dramatic losses in co.’s share of market," that noted, "Reebok's German parent company will spend $64 million more than planned next year on marketing and other efforts aimed at revitalizing Reebok, which it purchased for $3.8 billion in January. Adidas, which originally had expected to see improvement from the Canton company in the current quarter, now doesn't foresee growth in Reebok orders until the second half of next year."

I have to ask – who is running Reebok's marketing department at the moment? Look at the deals Reebok has signed over the last few years:

· NFL's apparel license
· Shoe contract with MLB
· The NBA announced that Reebok had signed a 10-year deal to be the official apparel maker of the NBA, WNBA and NBDL in 2001

Um…do you think it might be a good idea to work with the leagues to create cross-promotion marketing plans? Why hasn’t the company developed some snazzy commercial that everyone starts talking about? Is the company posting all of their commercials on YouTube? Please tell me they have a MySpace page.

I understand the company needed to stay quiet as it integrated with adidas, but the marketing department should have spent the time creating ideas so they could have hit the ground running in October – when MLB was finishing and the NFL and NBA were starting up. It seems to me that would have been the perfect time to start the new and improve rolling thunder buzz campaign.

From the outside, it looks like Reebok has tons of firepower and tons of resources to gain more marketshare. While we don’t know what is going on internally, I hope they straighten things out soon.

MLS Cup and the New England Revolution

Did you know the New England Revolution competed in the MLS Cup on Sunday? The next question for some of you is, do you care? Being a sports enthusiast, I was shocked to learn for the FIRST TIME on Sunday morning that the game was being played that afternoon. I understand MLS soccer may not become a mainstream sport, but shouldn’t the team have done a better job promoting it in Massachusetts? If any of the "Big Four" teams were playing in the finals, it would be front-page news for days and the lead story on every newscast. While the Revolution lost again on Sunday, they have done surprisingly well in recent years. According to the Boston Globe:

"The Revolution became the first team to lose MLS Cups in succession when they fell to the Houston Dynamo on penalty kicks, 4-3, Sunday. They have equaled Los Angeles's record of three MLS Cup defeats overall, the Galaxy having reached three of the first six finals before winning in 2002."

I understand the Pats were playing at home on Sunday, but the team or the league in general should have spent some money to promote the event. Here’s how:

· Take out full-page ads in the Globe, Herald, Lowell Sun and Worcester Telegraph promoting the game.
· Buy ad time on WEEI and negotiate a deal where the radio hosts have to spend some time talking about the game.
· Hound the local media to get them to cover the event, interview the coach – anything to generate some coverage.
· Last, MLS should have rented out some bars or restaurants where people could have gone to watch the game. Maybe certain restaurants in Boston showed the game, but I didn’t hear anything.

New England fans will back a winner, even if its soccer, but the team and the league need to do a better job promoting it to the general sports fan.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

CT and Sports Marketing firms?

Recently, I have noticed a rise in marketing firms in Connecticut. These firms work with consumer businesses that "play" in the sports world. Maybe they all decided to move from NYC due to high costs of running a business in the city. In Connecticut we have -- Velocity Sports & Entertainment, Norwalk, CT, Millsport, Stamford, CT, Octagon, Norwalk, CT and Stage Active Brand Marketing, Wilton, CT.

Recently Stage Active has been making some noise for New Balance with events that are targeted towards children. I wrote last week about NB’s relationship with Sesame Street. According to yesterday's Promo Magazine, "Stage-Active Brand Marketing, Wilton, CT, launched a 15-market tour with retailer JCPenney that brought to parks to life inside Simon malls. New Balance launched an eight-week tour, which ended in September, to boost its kids shoe line.

The agency staged a park-like setting outside JCPenney stores in malls, complete with blue skies, green grass, white picket fences and the sights and smells of a park. The effort was to boost New Balance's outdoors and physical fitness theme. Stage activated the senses with the aroma of fresh meadows and fresh cut grass and piped in sounds of singing birds and children playing."

If a company is going to spend money to generate exposure for their brand, then I agree with creating an "experience" for customers versus advertisements. Everyone is saturated with more advertisements than they can handle. Creating specialized events is a effective way to reach kids or adults.

I will definitely be keeping my eye on this marketing firm to see what other events they develop.

Top Payments for Naming Rights

Top Payments for Naming Rights

According to, below are the top payments for stadium and arena naming rights. Depending on what “extras” a company receives – tickets, access to athletes, access to arena, etc, this can be an extremely beneficial way to generate exposure for a business. The naming rights are costly, do get me wrong, but smart sports marketing and pr managers can effectively generate a positive return for any company. Oh yeah, any company needs a common sense manager as well.

Reliant Energy of Houston to Houston Texans football stadium:
$300 million

University of Phoenix to Arizona Cardinals stadium in Phoenix:
$154 million for 20 years

Staples for Staples Center in Los Angeles:
$100 million for 20 years

Dick's Sporting Goods to the Colorada Rapids (MLS):
$40 million for 20 years

Home Depot to Anschutz Entertainment Group for Home Depot National Training Center in Carson, Calif.:
$70 million for 10 years

Lucas Oil Products to Indianapolis Colts (NFL) home field:
$121.5 million

China Uses Olympics to Push its Own Technology

The 2008 Beijing Olympics are going to be amazing on many levels. From the sponsors, to the media uncovering human rights violations and other issues to watching China win a plethora of medals.

Over the next two years, China is going to use the Olympics as a way to market the country and to gain leverage on issues the government wants fix.

According to Techdirt:

"China's really trying to take advantage of the Beijing Olympics to show off its technological prowess, particularly in wireless. It's been saying for some time that its 3G mobile networks will be up and running in time for the games, but it's continually pushed back (for what's going on four years) the government approvals necessary to start building and operating them, because its homegrown TD-SCDMA standard hasn't been ready. By holding back the country's mobile networks this way, and potentially forcing foreign visitors to buy new WAPI-compatible equipment to use WiFi at the Olympics, China's not demonstrating its technological ability; it's demonstrating that protectionism is still the order of the day."

Don’t get me wrong, I would have LOVED the opportunity to have gone to the Games – Damn you Manulife. I think the Games will be spectacular, but there is also going to be a plethora of drama.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Google Video to Offer NHL Games

I know I discussed this news earlier in the week, but I wanted to add a link. From Friday, Nov. 3 edition of MediaPost:

"THE NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE'S DIGITAL arm has agreed to provide videos of full-length games to Google Video. The current season's games as well as a selection of old games will be available at: The deal includes current season games as well as a selection of prior seasons' games. In addition, the NHL and Google are working together to add user-generated content to the site."

This is a GREAT, GREAT idea for the League. I am psyched to see they finally got this off the ground. The NHL can add new sponsors since sponsors will have an opportunity to reach fans on the Internet. They can create highlight reels and other content for the site. They might be able to work with Google to have a company sponsor the main page.

From a sport that is struggling to make inroads with the general sports fan, this is a smart way to divert eyeballs of Internet viewers to the NHL.

Innovative Thinking by the Bruins Marketing Team?

Wow – I didn't think this type of innovative marketing would come from the Boston Bruins this quickly. Some people might not think it's that grand, but trust me, from experience, it's a challenge to develop these types of events in season.

The Bruins cleaned house in their PR and marketing departments before the season began so I figured this season was a ramp up year. I have been told by people in the city that their new marketing director knows her stuff.

Today I received the following e-mail from the Bruins:

"Only one day left to bid on your chance to meet Boston Bruins great BRAD PARK on Thursday, November 16th when the Bruins take on the Toronto Maple Leafs at the TD BankNorth Garden! Auction package includes two tickets for game seats in the Boardroom, a new restaurant located in the arena. The winner and a guest will enjoy dinner and watch the game with Brad Park and other Bruins Alumni. The NHL Alumni Association and the Boston Bruins are proud to have worked together with to present this opportunity to NHL fans."

Most of you are thinking right now, "who the hell is Brad Park?" While hockey is not my strongest sport, I have no clue when this former great Bruins' player was on the team. It doesn't matter what I know, but this is a great idea. Here why:

· While only two people will have an opportunity to spend time with Brad, the team and the NHL alumni association are trying to generate interest around the Bruins. The team needs to create different "out of the box" ideas because they sure aren’t winning.

· The Bruins understand they need to offer ways for fans to meet the players – current or former. Fans need to feel a reason to root for the team and convince their friends to follow the team as well.

· While I have not watched the Bruins seriously in a couple of years, it is refreshing to see them develop this type of auction.

The Bruins need to continue to develop these type of opportunities to draw general sports fans to attend games and watch the team. Offering the opportunity to have face time with athletes is a great way to start.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Smart Marketing Idea

Below is an interesting blurb from an Ad Age article:

"Put a compelling commercial on YouTube and watch it take off without spending a penny--that's the lesson from Dove's 'Campaign for Real Beauty.' The 75-second viral film, 'Dove Evolution,' has reaped more than 1.7 million views on YouTube as well as free coverage from talk shows such as 'Ellen,' 'Entertainment Tonight' and 'The View,' and 'Today.'

The successful coverage on multiple media fronts of 'Dove Evolution,' which chronicles (at speed) the digital transformation of a pretty woman into a stunning supermodel, drove record traffic to Dove's site, reaching three times as many people as the beauty care brand's expensive Super Bowl ad last year, according to traffic measurement firm"

Sports teams or leagues in general need to develop fun and innovative commercials to post on YouTube. Even a bloopers real might generate interest and over the long term could draw fans to the stadium or arenas, which is the ultimate goal. In the commercial is interesting and people forward it to their friends, the team will have seen significant ROI from their production costs.

In previous blogs, I have expressed concerns with fans creating commercials for corporations to run during the Super Bowl. I don't know if you will see a lot of ROI from purchasing ad time to show the commercial.

On the flip side, locally, teams should have fans create commercials. The teams can generate interest within the community, generate media exposure and possible have other fans vote on which commercial will win. These commercials will not be seen on a national stage. The commercial selection process can be drawn out over a month or so. There are endless possibilities to increase fans interest and ticket sales over the long run. Will a team take advantage of this idea? Nah…that would be too easy.

Nike's Soccer Goal: World Domination By 2010

According to a Media Post article from Monday, "Nike is setting its sights on the world soccer scene, vowing 'global football dominance by 2010.' The company tapped Joaquin Hidalgo, who will continue as vice president of global marketing, to oversee its integrated growth strategy for football. 'Our goal is simple: to be unquestionably the No. 1 brand in the world's No. 1 sport,' the company said." it really surprising Nike is concentrating its marketing efforts to secure a larger share of "soccer apparel spending?" Nike created its online soccer community during the World Cup and the site drew millions of fans. Thankfully, their common sense manager thought it might be a smart idea to spend more money with the sport.

Nike has cornered the market in basketball and has a strong presence in baseball and the college sports. While this may sound "out there", I believe Under Armor is going to make strong gains around football moving forward

At this time Adidas is the number one soccer brand. They do not have a huge market share in the U.S., but who cares if they have the number one spot in the number one sport. Adidas better be concerned when the 500-pound gorilla, a.k.a. Nike, starts making headway with soccer fans.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Local NH Boy Does Good

When SI announced the 50 greatest athletes from NH, I don't know if Chris Carpenter, a starting pitcher on the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals was even on the list. Well, at this point, he should be in the top ten.

According to Promo Extra: "WHEATIES will put Chris Carpenter, pitcher for the World Series champs St. Louis Cardinals, on the front of cereal boxes that will hit store shelves nationally in two or three weeks. It's Carpenter's first appearance on a Wheaties box, part of the General Mills' brand's longstanding tradition of featuring top athletes with commemorative packaging."

I remember senior year in high school that local scouts and coaches knew he would be in the major league since his stuff was filthy back then.

Always have to be impressed when a NH athlete gains national exposure.

New Balance and Sesame Street?

According to Promo Magazine, New Balance recently signed a multi million dollar agreement "with Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit education arm behind the Sesame Street series, to sponsor the show and other initiatives."

The article noted: "The four-year deal, which starts this month, calls for the shoe company to sponsor Sesame Street and the U.S. broadcast of Plaza Sésamo, the Latin American co-production of the show, in select PBS markets. Starting today, New Balance will air a 15-second bilingual spot in English and Spanish at the beginning and end of the hour-long program on PBS. The TV sponsorship runs through December 2007. New Balance will also be featured at and at, in print ads in Sesame Street magazine and in Sesame Street newsletters. New Balance is the first athletic brand to sponsor the Sesame Street series, the company said."

At this time, I am torn if this is a a smart sponsorship for New Balance. Here’s why:

· If the money is honestly used to help kids learn about creating healthy lifestyles and Sesame Street really needed to money to pull the program off – then kudos to NB.
· But, if NB uses this to draw kids to become "New Balance Club Members" to buy their athletic gear in the future, then I have a problem with this deal. While I know if happens all the time, NO ONE should be marketing to young kids. The parental watch dog groups will have a field day if people think the companu is advertising to children.
· I believe NB will gain some traction with the mothers, since a lot of them like to go on walks or exercise and will consider purchasing NB products in the future.
· From a sponsorship perspective, like it or not, NB is going to be able to mold some kids into life long NB fans and that will be worth all the money they spend.

NBA and NHL on Google Video

I just read the following on

"The NBA and Google Video have terminated their landmark partnership, which was announced to much ballyhoo earlier this year. All games, which had been previously available for a fee, have been pulled down from Google. This includes last year's NBA Finals.

In the meantime, the NHL and Google yesterday announced that hockey games are now available for free on Google Video. Even better, you can download them for your iPod. That's wonderful for consumers, but it points to Google's bigger problems when it comes to video.

My gut is that Google is having a lot of difficulty selling content on Google Video. If the NBA were making money with Google, you can bet they would have stayed there. In fact, they probably would have used it as a platform to promote their new League Pass Broadband service - but they didn't."

I disagree with this assessment that the NBA would have stayed with Google. Knowing the NBA, they are going to put all the content on and drive people to the site. They have enough fans were they can create an economic structure to make money from their game video.

The NHL, on the other hand, made a smart business decision by signing this agreement. This is a great move for the League to continue generating exposure on the Web.

Monday, November 06, 2006

NHL Names Marketing Head

According to Promo Magazine, the NHL has FINALLY named a new marketing director. One would think, with the NHL trying to gain new sponsors and fans, that this would be high on the list of items to address.

The article reported, "The National Hockey League has named John Collins as executive-VP, corporate sales and marketing. Collins will lead the NHL's corporate sales efforts in the U.S, focusing on development of new revenue opportunities, partner management and sales coordination with League network partners. Collins also will oversee all aspects of the NHL's marketing plan development and implementation, the NHL said."

The NHL has not been generating a lot of interest within the sports-media arena. There are the loyal hockey fans that will follow their teams until the bitter end, but how much does the general sports fan care about the game? These general fans are the ones who the NHL needs to go after. The NHL needs to work with its partners to develop innovative marketing plans to draw fans to games.

Locally, the Bruins are taking advantage using social media to draw interest to the team. Now the Bruins need to start winning. The NHL needs to be at the forefront of social media. It might be the only way to "break away from the clutter" in the sports world.

IOC – “Show Me the Money”

There is definitely a perception around the world that Americans are arrogant. Have you ever seen an American tourist who doesn't try to learn the native language they are visiting or just assume the U.S dollar will work? And Americans wonder why people don’t like this country.

Well, once the Beijing Olympics begin, people around the world are going to be shaking their heads again. In an article in today's Advertising Age titled, "Why NBC Will Charge Dearly for Beijing Olympics Ads," the story noted, "In addition, NBC learned last week that after five years of talks, it has persuaded the International Olympics Committee to schedule two of the most popular sports -- gymnastics and swimming -- at a time that will allow the network to broadcast them live in prime time in the U.S. Events that begin at 10 a.m. in Beijing can be covered at 10 p.m. in prime time."

How many other countries are there in the world? The IOC is scheduling the two events so the Americans can watch it live. O.k., I understand a large percentage of marketing and sponsorship dollars come from the United States, but seriously, the events should be held in prime time in the host country. This is a slap in the face to Beijing and its residents.

NBC is trying to get around the fact that people DVR most shows and the network knows it can charge more advertising fees if these two events are held in primetime.

Things That Suck: TNT’s Basketball Producers

So I am taking a page out of Pat Patterson’s blog to write about TNT’s "Inside the NBA" show I saw last week. The show kicked off the NBA season for the network. The host of the show was Ernie Johnson along with Magic, Barkley and Kenny Smith.

Some of you may know that Ernie Johnson has cancer and over the summer had some chemo treatment. For this reason, he is now completely bald, but is still able to work out the show. I might add, he has done a great job keeping the show moving for the last few years.

Now what I saw on opening night, and I need to watch it again soon, was so unacceptable. At the beginning of the show, TNT did a small tribute to Ernie to wish him well with NBA players offering their best wishes. They showed one up close show of Ernie. That was the last up close shot you saw of him during the show. that sentence again.

First they would show Magic offering commentary and then the camera shot would move to Barkley. When it was Ernie’s time to speak they would pull the camera away for a wide-angle shot and not lose up. I watched the whole show in disbelief and shock. What if a cancer patient is watching the show and has lost all their hair. It must not help their self-esteem if they continue to see the camera pulled away from Ernie Johnson.

TNT needs to handle this situation better in the future. I plan to watch the show in the next couple of nights to see how they are handling it.