By Barry Janoff
June 3, 2015: Major League Baseball has signed two multi-year deals to bring a pair of new partners into its dugout, one an alliance that names The Hartford Financial Services Group as the exclusive business insurance, homeowners insurance and employee benefits partner of the league, the other a pact naming Miller Lite as MLB's official beer in Canada.
Financial terms of the two deals were not shared.
The alliance with The Hartford includes presenting sponsorship of the American League and National League Reliever of the Year Awards, named after MLB greats Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman, respectively, as well as a partnership with former long-time New York Yankees relief pitcher Rivera to promote the alliance.
The annual honor was known as the Rolaids Relief Man Award from 1976-2012, but did not have a presenting sponsor the past two seasons.
Marketing to support The Hartford's new deal was not detailed but is expected to involve multi-media support including TV, Internet and in-stadium activations.
The Hartford said it would also sponsor five MLB teams this year: the Kansas City Royals, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers. It plans to expand with more teams in 2016.
The Hartford deal does not cover auto insurance, which leaves the door open for another MLB partnership.
MLB had an alliance with State Farm that ended after the 2012 season.
The Hartford traces its baseball roots back nearly 100 years, when Babe Ruth purchased in 1920 a disability policy from the then Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company that included protection against accidents and sickness.
“From providing insurance coverage for Babe Ruth to stadium construction projects, it’s exciting to partner with a company that has historic ties to the sport."
“From providing insurance coverage for Babe Ruth to more recent stadium construction projects, it’s exciting to partner with a company that has historic ties to the sport,” Bob Bowman, president of business and media for MLB, said in a statement. “Protecting and prevailing are attributes The Hartford embodies and are synonymous with the greatest relief pitchers in baseball history, making the partnership with Major League Baseball, its clubs, Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman a perfect fit.”
The Hartford has other ties to major sports. In 2003, The Hartford became a founding sponsor of U.S. Paralympics, a division of the U.S. Olympic Committee. The firm had been an official partner of the NCAA from 2004-2011.
Miller Lite joins Copa Airlines, Frito Lay, Gatorade, Gillette and Pepsi as MLB sponsors in Canada.
Anheuser-Busch is the official beer partner of MLB in the U.S.
SABMiller Canada, a subsidiary of SABMiller, said that its alliance takes effect immediately and that marketing support would launch with promotional activity leading up to the 2015 All-Star Game this July in Cincinnati.
"We are thrilled to add Miller Lite to the Major League Baseball family in Canada," Dominick Balsamo, vp-International Broadcasting and Sponsorship for MLB, said in a statement. "We look forward to sharing this great beer with the passionate baseball fans across the country, and to executing compelling new initiatives with SAB Miller to showcase our partnership."
According to Keith Fawcett, director of marketing for Miller Lite, "We are excited about our new relationship with Major League Baseball and to be able to engage with baseball fans through our shared passion for the sport. Just like baseball, Miller Lite has an all-American origin and a rich heritage. We believe that a sport like baseball represents a perfect occasion to enjoy light beer — whether you're at the game, cheering on your favorite team at a bar, or watching or listing to the game at home."
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