Wrigley's Chews It Over With The NBA, Inks A Deal

A Chicago-based chewing gum company has signed on to be national sponsor of the National Basketball Association. The deal makes Wrigley's Big Red, Juicy Fruit, Winterfresh, Doublemint and Wrigley's Spearmint the official chewing gums of the NBA.

It gives Wrigley's exclusive category rights, and both Wrigley's and the NBA will build an integrated, NBA-themed marketing campaign for Wrigley's five chewing gum brands.

Wrigley initiated the deal with the NBA by sponsoring the league's Jam Van mobile tour, an 18-wheeler road show visiting 12 markets through Sept. 7. The tour, which began during the NBA finals, features basketball activities and interactive events.

Mark Tatum, the NBA senior vice president/marketing partnerships, says that Wrigley's gets significant branding and signage, with Wrigley's product shots on the truck, signage around court and street teams handing out packages of gum.

He says a Wrigley's partnership wasn't a stretch for the NBA and vice versa--because the NBA skews young among professional sports, and gum is its chewing tobacco. "There's been a history of players chewing gum on the court so there's a natural connection there, and Wrigley's wants to connect with a young audience."



Wrigley's and the NBA will also launch a campaign during the 2007-08 season. "We anticipate Wrigley buying advertising on NBA game broadcasts on TNT, ESPN and ABC and doing in-game advertising, which could include the use of player endorsements," says Tatum, adding that the last piece of the program will involve retail promotions, with NBA themes on packaging and at point-of-purchase.

Wrigley will also have court-side signage through the deal; the form that will take hasn't been worked out. Tatum says marketing activities will ramp up with the 2008 season beginning in late October.

The five Wrigley brands have also signed a deal with the New Jersey Nets as the presenting sponsor of "Nets Overtime"--the time period from the conclusion of the Nets playoff run through the first day of the team's 2007-08 training camp.

They will be featured in all Nets events and communications throughout the summer. The partnership will continue throughout the regular season and include extensive Wrigley's branding during Nets home games.

Paul Chibe, Wrigley's vice president of U.S. marketing, says Wrigley's will develop the sponsorship with advertising, promotions, packaging and on-line content. "Obviously, it will take some time before consumers see all the elements come to life. Announcements about those activities will be forthcoming as we get closer to the start of next season."

He says the company also entered Nascar last November as a sponsor of Juan Pablo Montoya, who will drive the No. 42 Big Red Dodge in three Nextel Cup races in the 2007 Nascar season.

Wrigley also sponsors Reed Sorenson and David Stremme, who will drive the No. 41 Dodge in the first 25 Busch Series races in 2007. The cars feature Wrigley's Juicy Fruit, and Winterfresh paint schemes.

The NBA has 19 other partners.

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