Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Look out there...In left field!

I recently received an article from MediaPost about how the Boston Red Sox and Bank of America Corp. are renewing their corporate partnership with each other - and hence their work with product placement. With the beginning of baseball season, this is appropriate to note. Ballparks bring hundreds of thousands of fans a year to games, creating a perfect means to integrating a product within the game or the ballpark. With the Red Sox/Bank of America deal, the Red Sox promise to keep the Bank's logo in Fenway Park for all to see. The Red Sox benefit because it creates an opportunity for fans to open a "Red Sox-branded bank account." For every dollar that cardholders spend on retail items, they earn one point. The points build up and can be redeemed for everything from merchandise to special messages on Fenway Park's scoreboard during a game - even throwing the first pitch at a World Series game. Cost of the first pitch at the World Series - 100,000 points.

Bank of America is very proud to be associated with Major League Baseball, as they have a similar deal other baseball teams and stadiums. The company is using these sponsorships to "cement our brands with [some] of the most iconic teams in baseball" and become associated with the sport, rather than other sports. A baseball focus would create more brand recall and awareness, and thus, more product placement success. Good strategy to me!

Other brands have also broken into the sports market, where spectator counts are high and where brand exposure opportunities are high, too. In tennis, Lexus was the advertising and product placement leader during the 2006 US Open, placing their logo on the actual net, as well as around the center stadium. It cost them over $13 million to do so! In extreme sports, Mountain Dew, Red Bull, and Vans sponsor major X-Sport tours and events throughout the country, usually during the summer. In turn, their logos and samples are plastered throughout the events and guests cannot leave without seeing the brand names somewhere. Most obvious is during the college football bowl season. Huge brands line up to sponsor bowl games - Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, The Outback Bowl, Fed-Ex Orange Bowl, All-State Sugar Bowl, Champs Sport Bowl,and PapaJohns.com Bowl. These brands are placed in the logos of the games and in turn, show up on TV, on the field, on the scoreboard, even on t-shirts. There are millions of eyes that will see those brands, so if you have enough money to sponsor a bowl game, go for it!

With such a large opportunity for exposure, sports product placement and sponsorships are HUGE! Anytime you go to a ballpark, arena, or anything dealing with sports, make a mental note of all of the company and brand logos you see. Also, note the name of the building you are at. Whenever I go watch the Cavs in Cleveland, I watch the game in Quicken Loans Arena. Sounds kind of tacky, but I had never heard of Quicken Loans before they switched the arena's name...