Sports a key player in this college town

May 27, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Sponsorships of local college games are always sold out in Columbia-Jefferson City, Mo.
“We’re a college town, where the University of Missouri is located, which is part of the Big 12 conference,” said Andy Lee, general manager of the Benedek-owned ABC affiliate KMIZ-TV and low-power Fox affiliate KQFX-TV. “So we carry a lot of college basketball and football. We have a lot of sponsorships we make available to advertisers in weather and sports.”
Mark Farnen, spokesman at Columbia-based ad agency Woodruff & Co., said sports sponsorships are the rage, especially in March during the NCAA playoffs. “University of Missouri made the NCAA Elite Eight, and so they were on their way to the national championship, and it was a hot ticket,” Mr. Farnen said. “Channel 13 [CBS affiliate KRCG-TV] broadcast the games. But there was special coverage on KOMU and KMIZ. All of the different stations-regardless of if they broadcast the game- benefited. They all had special segments surrounding that event. This is a widely crazy basketball town, and so everybody did well.”
Aside from sports, Mr. Farnen said, business segments were popular sponsorship opportunities too. KMIZ airs one-minute “Mid-Missouri Business Profile” vignettes at various times throughout the week. “We bought some airtime [for a condominium complex], and as value-added we got the `Business Profile’ as a package. They loved it,” Mr. Farnen said. “It has been very popular among area businesses.”
Mr. Farnen said University of Missouri-owned NBC affiliate KOMU-TV is the broadcast partner of the WB 100+ Station Group. At KOMU, “Caring Companies” has been a popular partnership with advertisers. There are five major sponsors that buy TV schedules and become public service partners with KOMU. The sponsors help out with public service initiatives such as a safe driving campaign aimed at high school students.
KOMU General Manager Martin Siddall said health-related programs are another popular advertising vehicle in the market. During the station’s weather forecasts the weathercaster gives out the UV rating each day June through August. The station then promotes a brochure viewers can obtain at local retailers, giving them more health information on the topic.
Once a month, KOMU does a news segment on a health topic such as breast cancer. Viewers who have questions about the subject can call University Hospital from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. that same night and talk to doctors on call. University Hospital gets a video billboard on the news segment. Mr. Siddall said the ad campaign began last September and ran every other month but became so successful it’s now monthly.
According to BIA Financial Network, TV revenues for Columbia-Jefferson City in 2001 were about $17.4 million and are expected to be about $18.6 million in 2002. Top ad categories are auto, restaurants, fast food, beverages and furniture.