By Barry Janoff
July 17, 2014: LeBron James may be taking his game from Miami back to his roots in the Akron area to play for the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers, but could he be planning a stop in Boston first?
James, via his LRMR management firm and through a deal with Boston-based Fenway Sports Group, in 2012 became a minority share investor in the iconic Liverpool Football Club, which plays in the Barclays English Premier League.
Next week, FSG, which owns the Liverpool club, is staging "Football at Fenway," featuring Liverpool versus AS Roma, Fenway Sports Management, the sponsorship sales arm for FSG, is overseeing market, which includes a new deal with Buick that names the automaker as title sponsor for the event.
Financial terms were not disclosed. The match will air July 23 on NBC Sports (7:30 PM ET), which has been the home for all 380 Premier League matches.
According FSM, as title sponsor for Buick Football at Fenway, Buick would have a "significant brand presence at Fenway Park and inclusion in all match-related marketing and event-related materials, including a Buick banner on the Green Monster, a Buick vehicle on the warning track as well an integrated ‘Buick Football at Fenway’ logo."
“Much like these two prestigious clubs, Buick has a long, rich history with a growing, global footprint," Sam Kennedy, president for FSM, said in a statement. "Buick Football at Fenway presents a signature opportunity to showcase its elite brand before the passionate soccer fans at ‘Americas Most Beloved Ballpark’ and to NBC Sports viewers across the country."
The high-profile event — NBC Sports reaches an estimated 80 homes and the last match between these two clubs, in July 2012, saw Fenway Park filled with more than 37,000 fans — should help to support Buick's recent boost in sales. According to industry analysts, the brand saw an 18% rise in sales this past June versus June 2013, its best single month since 2006.
Buick broke during March Madness a "Full Line" spot in which people see the new cars and exclaim, "That's not a Buick!" A spot for Verano starring NFL quarterback Peyton Manning also has been running.
Sales of Buick's compact crossover SUV, Encore, have led the way, with a jump of 82% in June versus the previous year. Buick said it has sold more than 31,000 units in its first year since hitting the U.S. market in January 2013. The car is supported by a multi-media campaign.
According to Tony DiSalle, Buick vp-marketing, “Liverpool and Roma are renown for having among the most educated and loyal supporters in the game, and Fenway Park, one of the most historic sporting venues in the world, serves as the home ballpark for some of the most dedicated and passionate fans in all of sport. That passion is a value shared by Buick and mirrors our commitment to performing at a very high level so this partnership is a great fit for us.”
Fenway Sports Group owns the Boston Red Sox, Liverpool Football Club, New England Sports Network (NESN) and Roush Fenway Racing. FSM serves as the exclusive sales agency for Major League Baseball Advance Media, PGA Tour Playoff event The Deutsche Bank Championship and Boston College Athletics. Through its strategic partnership with LRMR, FSM also exclusively markets for LeBron James and Johnny Manziel.
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