brands with balls
Posted by Anthony Zumpano on March 8, 2010 11:46 AM
Sports and sponsorships go together like baseball and beer, but some relationships between brands and games are more complicated than others. Prior to the 1999 baseball season, for instance, Enron offered the Houston Astros $100 million for naming rights to the team’s ballpark for the next 30 years.
That deal – as well as Enron itself – lasted less than three years, and the Astros had to buy back the remaining time for $2.1 million in order to find a new sponsor. Though there’s no scandal attached, the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) will also be looking for a new lead sponsor very soon for its tour.
Since 1995, the tour was known as the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour – a partnership that includes the URL sonyericssonwtatour.com – but a revised deal reduces Sony Ericsson’s average annual stake to around $9 million from $14.7 million, SportsBusiness Journal reports. This means the WTA will likely be seeking a new sponsor as part of its tour name.
Despite the loss of more annual income than any woman (save Serena Williams) earned on the tour last year, the WTA has a rosier future than Sony Ericsson. Though it’s one of the top five manufacturers of mobile phones, Sony Ericsson suffered a drop in market share from 7.6 percent to 4.5 percent over the past year, while the WTA is surviving the shaky economy and sees expansion in its future.
Securing the next tour sponsor could be as challenging as facing Serena’s serve: women’s sports overall don’t attract the same attention as men’s. But a new brand partnership, along with its complementary licensing opportunities – while also maintaining a smaller yet still significant relationship with Ericsson – will likely mean excellent returns for the WTA brand.
Consider the Astros: two months after the 30-year, $100 million deal evaporated, the team landed a 28-year naming rights deal with Minute Maid. For $170 million.