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QUICK HITS

• Puma, which is rebooting its hoops division with the signing of potential top NBA draft picks Deandre Jordan and Michael Bagley III to shoe deals, said it has named producer/musician/businessman Jay-Z as president of basketball operations. The company said it has been working with Jay-Z run Roc Nation “for quite some time.” In addition, Hall of Famer Walt "Clyde" Frazier, a Puma partner for its first signature shoe in the 1970’s and long-time endorser, has signed a lifetime contract with the shoe brand.

• Panini America has signed an exclusive autograph trading card memorabilia agreement with All-American point guard Trae Young, a projected Top Ten pick in this week's 2018 NBA Draft. Young led the nation in both scoring (27.4 ppg) and assists (8.8 apg) during a his freshman season with the University of Oklahoma.

• Xyience said it would be an official sponsor and the official energy drink for the 2018 International Champions Cup presented by Heineken, a premier  occer tournament featuring top clubs and players from Europe. The ICC runs from July 20- Aug. 7 and includes 17 matches played across 14 U.S. cities. (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and SiriusXM.) Sponsors also  include Heineken, Ally, Hertz, MasterCard, Gatorade, Konami and Vivid Seats.

KEEPING SCORE

Top-Selling MLB Jerseys (Jan.-May 2018)

1. Jose Altuve Houston Astros
2. Aaron Judge New York Yankees
3. Clayton Kershaw Los Angeles Dodgers
4. Giancarlo Stanton New York Yankees
5. George Springer Houston Astros
6. Anthony Rizzo Chicago Cubs
7. Kris Bryant Chicago Cubs
8. Shohei Otani Los Angeles Angels
9. Carlos Corea Hoston Astros
10. Mookie Betts Boston Red Sox
11. Mike Trout Los Angeles Angels
12. Cody Bellinger Los Angeles Dodgers
13. Buster Posey San Francisco Giants
14. Javier Baez Chicago Cubs

SOURCE: MLBShop.com

BUY SELL

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE (June 15-17)

1. Incredibles 2 - Disney - $180 M ($231.5M worldwide)
2. Ocean's 8 - Warner Bros. - $19.6M
3. Tag - Warner Bros. - $14.6M
4. Solo: A Star Wars Story - Disney - $9.1M
5. Deadpool 2 - 20th Century Fox - $8.8M
6. Hereditary - A24 - $7M
7. Superfly - Sony - $6.3M
8. Avengers: Infinity War - Disney - $5.3M
9. Adrift - STX Entertainment - $2.1M
10. Book Club - Paramount - $1.9M
11. A Wrinkle In Time - Disney - $1.8M
12. Gotti - Vertical Entertainment - $1.7M

NOTE: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom - Universal $173.6M international (opens in U.S. June 22)

SOURCE: COMSCORE.com

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COLLEGE

Men's Hoops Are 'Toxic'
No. 1 Colleges Since '92
Notre Dame Builds Brand
Cancer Drives Home
CFB Title Games '21-24

Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/johnfkenn121400.html#46Ul8rBF4XpB4lo0.99
Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/johnfkenn121400.html#JZxA5jXY4rCwemgZ.99
Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/johnfkenn121400.html#JZxA5jXY4rCwemgZ.99
Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/johnfkenn121400.html#46Ul8rBF4XpB4lo0.99
Friday
Oct132017

Q&A: New Deals, Marketing, Players Have MLB Thinking Outside The (Batter’s) Box

By Barry Janoff

October 12, 2017: With the MLB post-season in full swing, teams, players, fans and league marketing and media partners are eyeing the prize at the end of the rainbow: the 2017 World Series.

This has been a strong season for MLB on the field — which actually began way back in March with the World Baseball Classic — behind such young stars as Kris Bryant, Bryce Harper, José Altuve, Cody Bellinger and Aaron Judge.

It also has been a strong season on the business and marketing side.

In 2016, sponsorship spend behind MLB approached a record $780 million. It is expected to surpass that in 2017, according to research and consulting firm ESP Properties, Chicago.

The drive comes from such first-year partners as Coca-Cola — which this season replaced Pepsi as the league’s official soft drink — Nathan’s, Old Dominion Freight Line, Facebook, Doosan, W.B. Mason and Camping World — the latter three of which, along with T-Mobile, became the first presenting partners for specific MLB’s playoff series.

Also new to the roster is the recently signed YouTube, with YouTube TV designated as the first presenting sponsor for the World Series in MLB history (which begins on Fox on Oct. 24).

Campaigns also included long-time partners Chevrolet, Anheuser-Busch (Budweiser), Gillette, MasterCard, Nike and Topps; and multi-media efforts from brands such as Church & Dwight, Esurance, Papa John’s, Scotts, Starwood and Evan Williams.
 
Among fan-centric activation highlights during the season were Caps On from New Era and Players Weekend with nicknames on Majestic jerseys (“Hollywood,” “No Panic,” “Dirty Craig,” “Tsunami”).

MLB this year continued to expand the platforms on which people could watch games, such as the True VR app from Intel and Facebook, which joined second-year partner Twitter as a social media game destination.

At the plate, Judge hit a MLB rookie one-season record 52 homers (topping Mark McGwire’s 49 in 1987) and a New York Yankees record with 33 home runs in Yankee Stadium (breaking Babe Ruth’s team rmark of 32 set in 1921 in the Polo Grounds).

His on-field prowess translated into Judge becoming only the second rookie in baseball history to lead MLB in jersey sales for the entire season, joining Bryant, who accomplished the feat during his rookie season with the Chicago Cubs in 2015. And sales of Judge’s Topps NOW cards alone this season are near 100,000, including a one-card mark 16,138 copies of the one commemorating his rookie record-breaking 50th home run.

The average value of MLB’s 30 teams has topped a record $1.53 billion, driven by "new local television deals that are increasing at roughly a two-fold rate, as well as surge in profitability."

MLB was led by the Yankees, valued at $3.7 billion (up 9% versus 2016), a spot the franchise has now had for 20 consecutive seasons, according to the 20th annual "Baseball Team Values" from Forbes.

The Top Five also includes the Los Angeles Dodgers ($2.75 billion, up 10%), Boston Red Sox ($2.7 billion, up 17%), World Series champion Chicago Cubs ($2.67 billion, up 22%) and the San Francisco Giants ($2.65 billion, up 18%).

NYSportsJournalism spoke with Noah Garden, EVP Business for MLB, about the game, the business, the players and the marketing of baseball.

NYSportsJournalism.com: How would you describe the 2017 MLB season from a marketing perspective, with many new partners and expanding relationships with existing partners?

Noah Garden: We are glad that people take notice of these deals. We’ve worked very hard going back the past two years with the One Baseball initiative and Mr. (Rob) Manfred coming on-board as the new commissioner. When we brought our sales groups together, the plan was that instead of having the disparate groups we had — one at the network, one at MLB.com and one at MLB Properties — putting them together was going to yield these sorts of results. I believe they have.

Often what we are finding is that our media relationships from our media properties have helped to foster some of these new deals. Some of the partners, be it Nathan’s or others, have been dipping their toe in the (MLB) water on the media side of our business for quite some time. Now, as we put those sides of our business together, we have been able to make a connection that has worked for our partners. So we continue to push.

NYSJ: Coca-Cola and Nathan’s have been part of baseball as team partners, but some of the other new partners such as Camping World are non-endemic to the sport. What was the strategy behind that?

NG: We have different parts of our business, and the consumer products business is one that we have looked at extensively over the last 12-18 months. You know about the challenges that have happened in the retail space. But we continuously look at opportunities in that space to showcase our licensed products, which led us to a discussion with Camping World. They have great stores under that brand. They cater to families, as does MLB. It just made a lot of sense to partner with them.

When you look at their footprint and what they try to do in their stores to reach out to their customers, for our fans it just seemed like a logical place to make a splash. That is an exciting partnership for us. They are involved with the post-season, and this year and moving ahead you will see a lot of great executions that bring the experience in their store and our fans together.

NYSJ: Traditionally, MLB has not had presenting partners for its post-season series, but this year you have YouTube TV presenting the World Series, Camping World (ALCS and NLCS), T-Mobile (NLDS) and Doosan (ALDS). Was there a lot of back-and-forth to move ahead with that strategy or was it an easy decision, and do you expect pushback from fans and viewers?

NG: We certainly talked about it internally. What it boiled down to is, if you look at our media partners — Fox, Turner — they’ve always had presenting partners on their telecast. This is an extension of that. So we said, they are out there doing it anyway, but if we do it together there would be a much bigger, more powerful message we can make for our partners. This is a situation where 1+1=3. That was the genesis behind it before we went to market, and when we went to market it worked out that way. People understand. When they watched games on Fox and saw a presenting partner, this was not new to fans. It is important to integrate it into broadcasts and the games.

NYSJ: Will this continue and/or expand for the 2018 post-season?

NG: We are looking at how the situation goes this season and certainly will look to see what would work best moving ahead. The deals with Camping World, Doosan (and YouTube) came together late in the season, so when we and they review this post-season, they will remain MLB partners but may or may not remain (as presenting partners) in subsequent post-seasons. But for this year, it seemed like the right jumping-off point for all of us. Somebody will own those assets.

"People are consuming games in a variety of ways and on a variety of devices. The idea is for us to make sure that wherever you are, we have a presence."

NYSJ: There is a power that fans have as consumers beyond baseball with their marketing alliances. They buy food, go shopping, camping. They use social media for more than baseball and sports. Is that a vital part of new MLB deals with Camping World and other brands non-endemic to the game?

NG: Baseball fans have not been underestimated as far as consumer power. It takes time on both sides to uncover the different opportunities that exist. When you talk about the summer, you talk about Camping World. There’s no bigger sport during the summer months than our sport. I love to take my kids to games. But in the summer we also go camping. Be together outdoors with your family. It’s the time of year to do those types of traditional things. Go on vacation. So whether its going to a game or camping or both, that’s one of the things as we start to build that story together with Camping World, it’s pretty powerful.

NYSJ: What response have you received from first-year partners Coca-Cola, Nathan’s and Old Dominion about their deals?

NG: We are always having conversations with our partners and they like what they have seen. This is new territory for them. Coke, for example, has had many team partnerships over the years and with us they’ve had success locally. Coca-Cola before this didn’t have a national footprint with MLB. When we got into the national deal with them, we wanted to amplify some of the great programs they’ve done on a local basis. They certainly have been aggressive with their club deals.

With us, nationally, it has come together very nicely. They are very focused on execution and putting together these programs. If you look at our landscape, one of the things we try to do now is that we want partners that will activate. That is what we live by now. We want to make sure we have partners in categories who are going to do cool things. Coke was perfect. So are the new partners we have signed. And you will see in the coming years us building out pretty big platforms with all of them.

NYSJ: With the NBA adding jersey sponsors and MLS and Nascar already at a place where jersey-front sponsors and numerous logos are a big part of their sports, are fans becoming accustomed, if not numb, to these type of marketing integrations?

NG: Speaking only for MLB, it’s important for us to make certain that the integration is real, that it makes sense and that the partner is the right one in each situation for all the right reasons. The partners we have signed, they make sense. It is native. And it is incremental. We are not just slapping on a logo. That’s not what we were looking for. If that’s what we had done, we would have failed. So we took a lot of care and time to put the right partner with the right event.

NYSJ: What is the ongoing impact of having Facebook, Twitter, Intel VR and other platforms as places where people can watch MLB?

NG: You can’t change behaviors. People are consuming games in a variety of ways and on a variety of devices. The idea is for us to make sure that wherever you are, we have a presence for our fans on those different mediums. On Facebook throughout the post-season, you’ll be able to watch batting practice. It’s finding the right piece of content to be consumed on each of these different platforms. All of them are unique and they each have unique followers. So we are trying to put it all together.

NYSJ: With the business and ROI and other aspects of running baseball, it still is a game that fans want to watch and enjoy. How have partners activated in that way?

NG: We never lose sight of that. It is always the focus of conversations in the league and when we talk to our partners. We started the season with our Caps On promotion with New Era for Opening Day when everyone wants to be proud of their team and show their support by putting your team cap on and wearing it with pride. What we did Players Weekend, which had players wear their nicknames on their Majestic jerseys. That was great fun and a great success and look forward to doing it in subsequent years. You can walk around and see people wearing those jerseys.

It gives our players the opportunity to showcase what they are all about and their personalities. Our players play for six months and don’t have a lot of downtime so you don’t always get to see them on a personal level. That was the genesis behind that. And it broke through. We will anniversary it next year and we look forward to it. It was a lot of fun.

NYSJ: This season has seen a nice crop of rookies, led by Aaron Judge (Yankees), Andrew Benintendi (Boston Red Sox), Cody Bellinger (Los Angeles Dodgers), Jacob Faria (Tampa Bay Rays) and Paul deJong (St. Louis Cardinals). Can they be the faces of MLB for years to come on the field and in marketing along with such ‘elder statesmen’ as Kris Bryant, Mike Trout (who missed much of the season due to thumb surgery) and Bryce Harper?

NG: Look at the number of players in the (2017) All-Star Game who were under the age of 25. There were 33 players on the rosters making either their first of second All-Star Game appearance. We have young players across the board geographically who are making an impact on the game. Altuve in Houston. Judge in New York. Now it’s our job to get their stories out.

NYSJ: How important is it to have these players featured in local and national marketing?

NG: When we look at our partners, we want them to promote the game. In the old days, you would see a commercial and basically the only presence we had in it was a ‘proud partner’ logo at the end. Those days are gone. We want a partner that’s going to come in, be creative, and show something, whether it’s on TV, at retail, in social media, that promotes the game and promotes the players in a way that enhances both their brand and ours. Many of the executions you now see, our partners are using players. that’s important for us.

NYSJ: There is strong activation in MLB working with Stand Up 2 Cancer, ALS, Autism Awareness and other groups working to raise awareness and funds to cure diseases. How important is it to involve fans on a personal level and to keep the urgency of the messages top-of-mind?

NG: Unfortunately, many baseball fans know first-hand about the groups with which we work. They personally have been impacted themselves, with family or with friends. So this has become part of the fabric of MLB and an important part of where we choose to allot our time and energy. There is nothing greater than the Stand Up moments we do in-stadium, whether it’s the All-Star Game (2017 All-Star Game in Miami pictured above) or with MasterCard again during the World Series. It’s a powerful moment.

Cancer is a tough disease that has affected just about everybody I know and probably you know. That’s an effort we have supported for quite some time. It means a lot to us and it means a lot to our partners. When you take those few minutes in the stadium and everybody is holding a placard with a name on it that is near and dear to their heart, it sends a powerful message. We know our fans have been affected and it’s important for them to know we support these sorts of initiatives. And we do our best to amplify any way that we can.

YouTube Takes Center Stage With MLB, World Series

Camping World Pitches Marketing Tent With MLB

MLB Pops Open Coca-Cola Deal

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