Amtrak gets back on track with sports sponsorship
It’s starting to seem pretty normal at the intersection of sport and commerce. Now, if anyone could convince me that the most deleterious impact of the MLB lockdown will be to cut short spring training.
“Even though February was the shortest month of the year, it sometimes felt like the longest” — JD Robb.
Call it the train that made a circular trip. About five years after Amtrak exited as a longtime sports marketing brand, it is coming back to the fold. After a review, Amtrak quietly named Hackensack-based Source Communications as its go-to sports agency. The source, who would not comment, was Amtrak’s AOR from 2001 to 2017, when the Trump administration cut funding for the federally subsidized passenger railroad.
Industry sources said Amtrak was looking to rebuild its leisure travel business in the Northeast Corridor, which plummeted precipitously amid the pandemic. As a result, talks have already taken place with professional teams in the Northeast, which will likely lead to consumer exposure as early as this spring, depending on whether the MLB lockdown continues, with fan trips, rallies and “rivalry trains” under consideration.
In its heyday under the old program, Amtrak had sponsorships with many East Coast teams touting its flagship Acela high-speed service between DC and Boston. These deals included media, club rights, branded seat upgrade programs and the coveted designation of “Official Passenger Rail”.
We are waiting for the “Fare Play” promotion.
ESPN has sold out advertising inventory for this year’s NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament. There will be 22 advertisers – 14 of which are NCAA corporate sponsors. ESPN/Sports Brand Solutions Senior Vice President Sean Hanrahan said he was impressed with the depth of ad buying, with plenty of integrations. “The spotlight is on women’s sports as hidden gems,” he said. “Brands are starting to realize that this is a very engaged audience with good ratings, so why shouldn’t they be there?”
This year’s tournament tips on ABC and various ESPN networks on March 16-17 with four playoff games, before culminating in the Final Four distaff on April 1-3 at Target Center in Minneapolis. Capital One returns as the tournament’s title sponsor on ESPN, with brand integrations including starter features, ‘Rewarding Performance’ and the ‘Women’s Tournament Challenge’. As has been the case since 2008, Werner Ladders get some branding in the clean cuts after the win. Unilever is entitled to a half-time for its brand of deodorants and antiperspirants Degree. Minneapolis-based Target will get its name on shots with an alternate camera angle.
Other advertisers include Adidas, Apple, AT&T, Buick, CarMax, Champion, Cooper Tires, Credit Karma, GM, Golden Corral, Indeed, Invesco, Jersey Mike’s, Merck, NAPA, Nissan, Orgain, Principal Financial Group, Quicken Loans, Sirius XM, Subway, Taco Bell, Wendy’s, Whirlpool and Workday. This year will be the first that the women’s championship will have 68 teams. ESPN has owned the media rights to the women’s tournament since 1996. Last season’s Stanford-Arizona championship game averaged 4.07 million viewers, which was the best title game since 2014. Last year, it was also the first time that all matches in the first and second round received full national coverage.
Capital One was the biggest spender on telecasts of NCAA Women’s Tournament games last season, according to iSpot.tv data. The brand spent $345,608 on games on ESPN networks. Mazda ($282,120), GEICO ($277,444), AT&T Wireless ($256,856), and Verizon ($220,881) round out the top five.
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Marc Bluestein’s Aquarius Sports & Entertainment has an exciting new mission: to develop sponsorship and experience strategies, create activations and work to identify new market opportunities for Gifford’s Ice Cream.
Gifford’s, proud enough of its Maine heritage to boast of being “homemaine”, has a sponsorship deal with the Patriots, under which it markets a “Dough Your Job” flavor (chocolate chip cookie dough, caramel footballs and fudge ribbons) He also has deals with the Bruins (“Power Play Fudge”) and Celtics (“Full Court Pretz”).
Outside of its New England home, Gifford’s is distributed in the NY, DC and Atlanta metro areas, as well as the state of Florida.
- The NFL strives to maximize the yield of alcoholic beverages, and wine is next. An E&J Gallo marketer was among the prospects of being schmoozed by the league in LA Gallo has been a sponsor of the Super Bowl “Taste of the NFL” wine and food festival for more than 20 years, and the winemaker has a number of NFL team offers.
- ft. Lauderdale-based car seller AutoNation will be another new sponsor of the F1 Crypto.com Grand Prix of Miami, with assets like signage around the circuit, naming rights to a terrace in Hard Rock Stadium and a presence in the fan zone, reports my colleague Adam Stern.
- NFL CRO Renie Anderson said she “hopes” a league crypto sponsorship policy can be approved by owners at the league’s March 27-30 annual meeting in Palm Beach, Florida. But during Super Bowl week, she acknowledged that “may or may not happen.” “by then.
- Salesforce has signed eight of Team USA’s nine Winter Olympic NGBs, with the only outlier being US Ski & Snowboard, which is in the final year of an existing commercial data sponsorship with Domo, SBJ’s Chris Smith reports. Salesforce/Global Brand Marketing Vice President Adam Forrest declined to comment on the length or value of the NGB deals, but said the company made an offer equal to all nine.