Major League Baseball Properties (MLBP) and Major League Baseball International (MLBI) today announced renewed sponsorship deals with four major partners, including Gillette, part of The Procter & Gamble Company (NYSE: PG); InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) [LON: IHG, NYSE: IHG (ADRs)], owner of the InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Staybridge Suites, Candlewood Suites and Hotel IndigoTM brands; PepsiCo International, a division of PepsiCo Inc (NYSE: PEP), in Latin America; and ESun in Taiwan. The extensions reinforce the successful relationships these companies have with baseball and, in each case, activation plans and fan enhancement programs have increased going forward.
Financial terms were not released for any of these sponsorship deals.
In addition, on the heels of the successful World Baseball Classic, MLBI has reached agreements for new sponsorships in Japan with Lawson, Lotte and Kowa, while Gillette has expanded its MLB sponsorship into Puerto Rico .
“The strong commitment by these companies to join forces with baseball is a testament to the strength of our game and our business as part of the cultural fabric of society and its ability to touch so many people around the world,” said Tim Brosnan, Major League Baseball Executive Vice President, Business. “In addition, these deals make a powerful statement about baseball’s strength in the marketplace, especially given the current economic climate.”
The renewal with Gillette extends the longest running sponsorship association of any U.S. sports league into its ninth decade. As part of the new agreement, Gillette – which has been an MLB sponsor since 1939 – will continue to have exclusive rights in several brand categories, including men’s and women’s pre and post wet/dry shaving products, antiperspirants/deodorants and men’s skin care products. Gillette continues to be the presenting sponsor of the American League and National League Rookie of the Month Award which recognizes the top AL & NL rookie each month of the regular season. Gillette features New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter in several commercials for its premium Fusion™ line of blades and razors and Gillette Clinical Strength antiperspirants. Jeter is the latest in a long line of Major Leaguers who have endorsed Gillette including Hank Aaron, Whitey Ford, Mickey Mantle and Honus Wagner. Gillette ads featuring MLB players date back to as early as 1910. This year Gillette has expanded its agreement with MLBP to include the territory of Puerto Rico where Gillette recently ran a Spanish version of the Gillette Clinical Strength antiperspirant commercial in Puerto Rico during the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
As part of the renewal with IHG, Holiday Inn will become the “Official Partner of MLB Road Trips.” A highlight of the sponsorship is a platform in which MLB fans can earn free tickets to any MLB game by staying at a Holiday Inn or Holiday Inn Express hotel. The renewal between MLBP and Holiday Inn continues the largest relationship in U.S. professional sports between a league property and a member of the hotel industry. Through this renewed business partnership with MLBP, Holiday Inn will be able to continue offering members of Priority Club® Rewards MLB tickets, merchandise, and unique once in a lifetime opportunities. This includes being able to redeem Priority Club Rewards points for VIP experiences at the All Star Game and World Series. Also in support of the “Official Partner of MLB Road Trips” platform, registered guests who stay 8 nights at a Holiday Inn or Holiday Inn Express beginning in May can get 2 tickets to an MLB game throughout the 2009 or 2010 regular season. Holiday Inn will also sponsor a premier attraction at MLB All-Star FanFest , the interactive baseball theme park, which opens during Major League Baseball All-Star Week, taking place in St. Louis this year.
The renewal with Pepsi extends its designation throughout Latin America as the Official Soft Drink of Major League Baseball, and an Official Sponsor of MLB, the American League, National League, All-Star Game, Division Series, League Championship Series and World Series. The sponsorship in Latin America also extends to other Pepsi brands, including Diet Pepsi, Pepsi One, Mountain Dew, 7UP, Gatorade and other varieties.
In Asia, ESun, a leading financial services company, has renewed its official MLB sponsorship in Taiwan .
Lawson, one of Japan 's leading convenience store chains, will sponsor the MLB Pitch, Hit & Run Japan program scheduled for May in Sapporo . Lawson will activate the program in its 500 stores throughout the northern island of Hokkaido and will feature television, print and POP as part of the promotion. Additionally, Lawson will offer an MLB branded "healthy choice" bento (Japanese box lunch) at its stores starting in early May.
Lotte will use MLB marks to promote its popular Soh ice cream brand. The campaign is supported by television, print and in store POP and MLB team marks will be used on the packaging of 20 million containers. Convenience stores throughout Japan will offer branded POP that offers consumers the chance to win MLB branded premiums and a grand prize trip to the 2009 MLB All-Star Game in St. Louis .
Kowa, a leading producer of analgesic patches, will use its MLB rights in conjunction with advertising featuring two-time World Baseball Classic MVP and Red Sox righty Daisuke Matsuzaka. The program will make heavy use of television advertising but may also include in store POP.
Source: Major League Baseball
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
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