Sharp Is Keen To Reach MLB Fans With New Pact

Sharp has signed a three-year agreement for its Aquos TV to be the "Official High-Definition Television of Major League Baseball."

In its first major sports-league sponsorship, Sharp will run baseball-themed advertising during games, and will also have a presence in them, as well as best-player awards and its own MLB cross-promoted highlights specials.

"The time is right," says John Brody, senior vice president for corporate sales and marketing at MLB. "Major League Baseball has more games in high definition than any other sport." He says that 1,300 games were broadcast in HD last year, and this year there will be an additional 110 games in the format.

"We feel MLB is aligned perfectly with our target demographic," says Bob Scaglione, senior vice president and group manager/product and marketing at Sharp--adding that MLB fans are 23% more likely to earn $150,000 or more per year than the average person age 25 to 50. Without naming a specific amount, he says the relationship "represents an investment in the tens of millions of dollars."

"It's part of a major brand initiative over the next three years," he says, "and it's an extension of the relationship we have with eight teams already." Scaglione says that Sharp's marketing efforts focus on demographics defined by sports, entertainment, and design and technology.

The association includes MLB- and Sharp-branded point-of-purchase displays, promotions, contests, and advertising during games. "We will also have the opportunity to show the brand during baseball coverage, but that is all being worked out now."

Sharp will also be the presenting sponsor of the Hank Aaron award and lead presenting sponsor of the American and National League Player of the Month awards, the winners of which get an Aquos. Brody says Sharp will be working with Major League Productions to produce televised vignettes highlighting player accomplishments.

According to Scaglione, 3.2 million MLB game attendees plan on buying an HD TV in the next year, meaning that MLB fans are 44% more likely than the average person to buy one; and that almost 9 million active MLB fans have plans to buy an HD TV--19% more than the average person in U.S. "All of which translates to a partnership that can't miss," he says.

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