World Series Lineup Includes Heavy Marketing Hitters

Sponsors of Major League Baseball have lined up promotions and sweepstakes around the World Series playoffs that begin this week between the Colorado Rockies and the Boston Red Sox. The promotions are running fast and thick.

Chevrolet, which introduced its Malibu sedan during post-season baseball, is the new presenting sponsor of the Roberto Clemente Award, presented on the field during pre-game activities in Game Three. To trumpet the award, Chevrolet ran a national TV spot celebrating the eponymous baseball great. As part of the award, fans can vote online this year and serve as panelists. Other votes come from a blue-ribbon panel consisting of Chevrolet and MLB executives and baseball personalities. Also, when fans vote they are automatically entered into a sweepstakes for a chance to win a trip to the series.

John Brody, SVP/corporate sales and marketing at MLB, says virtually every MLB sponsor has its hand in the World Series in some capacity. "We currently have 17 Major League Baseball-themed commercials running on air. We have many sponsors with significant media purchases post-season on Turner and Fox. And we have many, if not all, who will have some activation around the World Series."



He points out that World Series involvement varies widely. Accounting firm KPMG International, which is presenting corporate sponsor of MLB's "Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities" (RBI) program, will present a $1 million check to RBI during Game Three.

Brody says that the All-Star game and post-season have evolved into global marketing opportunities for brands to interact with MLB partly because of its global reach. From a media impression and gross eyeball impression standpoint, the World Series and All-Star game are the backbone of marketers' relationships with MLB. It's become that much more attractive to top-tier marketing partners, who see it as a way to get closer to fans, who are watching in record numbers.

"Ratings are up significantly over the past couple of years," Brody says. Sunday night's game on TBS delivered a 2.9 rating (3.951 million viewers) based on final national ratings from Nielsen Media Research.

Per the MLB, the game was the fifth most-watched telecast on TBS during 2007, topping all but one of the division series games on ESPN last year (Yankees/Tigers, 6.6 million viewers).

Brody says this year's series has a special drama in that "we have one of the most storied franchises (Red Socks) playing against a franchise in its first-ever World Series (Rockies)."

General Mills' Wheaties cereal will create a 2007 World Series Champions box featuring a player from the winning team. Boxes will be on shelf within a few weeks of the finish.

Meanwhile, sponsors like Bank of America, Holiday Inn, Pepsi, Sharp and Taco Bell are offering trips to the series as grand prizes in sweepstakes tied to the games.

Bank of America is tying its MLB-themed Extra Bases promo with MLB MasterCard affinity cards. Cardholders who use their affinity cards accumulate MLB Extra Bases rewards points toward the chance to throw the ceremonial first pitch at a game; or a VIP tour a World Series stadium; and on-field pre game access.

Holiday Inn is also offering a trip to the World Series. The hotel chain has been running a promotion in which it gave away some two million packs of limited-edition baseball trading cards distributed to Priority Club members upon check-in between May and July this year. Within the deck was a game piece offering a chance to win prizes, including a trip to the World Series.

Pepsi will send consumers to the games through a promotion with Albertsons grocery stores nationwide this summer. Fans who purchased a 12-pack of a Pepsi product were automatically entered to for a chance to win when they used their Albertson preferred card. Pepsi is also debuting a new Aquafina "Official Water" TV commercial during the series. The ad stars Cubs manager Lou Piniella.

Taco Bell made the series central to its largest-ever in-store program, involving 100 million MLB-themed cups dangling instant win sweepstakes for World Series caps and jerseys, two tickets to the games, $50,000 spending cash, and ceremonial first pitch.

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