By Barry Janoff
February 15, 2013: Insurance firm MetLife, perhaps best known in the sports world for its naming rights deal at the NFL's New York Giants and New York Jets MetLife Stadium, as well as for the signature blimp that flies over some 100 events annually, is now taking a swing at baseball.
The New York-based company has signed a deal to become a global sponsor and the official insurance company for the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
MetLife said it would support the alliance with on-site and multi-media marketing and activation, incorporating its brand ambassador, Snoopy, "into multiple aspects of the event" on worldwide media platforms.
Financial terms of the pact were not disclosed.
MetLife joins Brand USA, Delta Air Lines and Konami as the World Baseball Classic's four global sponsors.
The 2013 World Baseball Classic, which is the third edition of the tournament, will feature the world’s best players representing their countries and territories. Thirty-nine games will be played in seven venues in four nations and territories from March 2-19. (Full schedule here.)
All games will be broadcast on MLB Network and ESPN Desportes. MetLife will provide aerial coverage from its blimps – Snoopy One, Snoopy Two and Snoopy J. — which will be flying above all the games played in Phoenix, Miami, San Francisco and Tokyo. The WBC is being distributed to more than 200 countries and territories.
"Many of the countries fielding World Baseball Classic teams are also countries where MetLife is a leading insurer," Richard Hong, vp-brand, advertising and promotion for MetLife, said in a statement. "With MetLife’s strong presence in Japan and Korea where the sport is widely popular, and with market leading positions in countries like Mexico and the U.S., millions of our customers and thousands of our employees are looking forward to watching some of the world’s best play baseball this March."
Under terms of the agreement, MetLife will be the title sponsor of the All-World Baseball Classic Team, which will be selected after the event and will be comprised of the top players at each position during the tournament.
In addition, Snoopy will wear World Baseball Classic jerseys and make special appearances during games to interact with fans and distribute gifts.
Team Japan is the two-time defending champion of the World Baseball Classic, having won in 2006 and 2009, the last time the WBC was held. The event will be played every four years moving forward.
The United States is in Pool D with Mexico, Italy and Canada, which begins play on March 7 in Phoenix.
"With a strong presence in the global market, MetLife is well-positioned to illuminate its brand message across the expansive WBC platform."
Members of Team USA include Joe Mauer, reining National League Cy Young winner R.A. DIckey, Jimmy Rollins, Mark Teixeira, David Wright, Ryan Braun, Shane Victorino, Adams Jones, Giancarlo Stanton, Ryan Vogelsong and Heath Bell, and is being managed by Joe Torre. Players will be taking time off from Spring Training and before the 2013 MLB season starts to participate.
The World Baseball Classic is sanctioned by the International Baseball Federation.
"With such a strong presence in the global marketplace, MetLife is well-positioned to illuminate its brand message across the expansive World Baseball Classic platform," Paul Archey, svp-International Business Operations for Major League Baseball, said in a statement. "MetLife will have a variety of touch points, both inside and outside the tournament venues, fully integrating them into the event program this March."