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Dodge Making a Mark in Football

Sep 6, 2004  •  Post A Comment

With college football heating up, both on the field and in the advertising market, Turner Sports has signed Dodge as the title sponsor of its Saturday afternoon postgame show on TBS.

In addition to signage during the show, co-branded tune-in promos and spots during the game, the deal gives Dodge a presence on another Turner Broadcasting network, CNN Headline News.

Dodge will sponsor college football updates on Headline News on Saturday afternoons. It will also be the sponsor of a vignette that will appear twice during prime time on Saturday nights and feature Turner college football studio analyst Ernie Johnson, who will award game balls to that weekend’s key players.

Turner executives declined to disclose how much Dodge paid, but industry executives say it was probably in the $4 million to $5 million range.

Last year, the TBS postgame report was sponsored by Schick, which was introducing a new product. It had smaller marketing needs this season, said Trish Frohman, executive VP of ad sales for Turner Sports.

Ms. Frohman said all of Turner’s other college football sponsors have renewed for this season, paying increases in the low single digits.

Among those returning is Sony PlayStation, title sponsor of Turner’s Saturday programming, which includes college football and a movie. The programming block is called Big PlayStation Saturday. Other sponsors include T-Mobile, Home Depot, Kia, Chili’s, the U.S. Army, Allstate, Pioneer and Levis.

“The college football marketplace has been very strong,” Ms. Frohman said, reporting a 90 percent sellout rate. With Turner, she said, “There’s a pretty limited amount of inventory, and it goes fast.”

Turner has the rights to Pac 10 and Big 12 conference games. Ms. Frohman is particularly excited about this year’s schedule, which starts off with top-ranked teams such as No. 1 USC and No. 2 Oklahoma in the first three games.

College football is so hot that ABC Sports is bringing back the postseason All-America team show with cellphone company Cingular as the sponsor. The college All-America team appeared in Look magazine from 1946 through 1970 and the players appeared on TV specials, usually hosted by Bob Hope. After Look folded, the Football Writers Association of America took over the selection of the team and the NCAA produced specials until 1990. From 1983 to 1990, the show ran on ABC or ESPN and was sponsored by Mercedes-Benz.

“We are having a very good college football season,” said Ed Erhardt, president of ESPN/ABC Sports Customer Marketing and Sales. For Cingular, the sponsorship of the All-America show is part of an expanded role on ESPN and ABC’s college football schedule.

During the regular season, viewers will be able to text-message to vote for the All-America player of the game on ESPN telecasts and player of the year leading up to the All-America special Dec. 11.

Cingular sponsors the voting, but users of most brands of cellphones will be able to participate. The exception is T-Mobile, which is sponsoring its own college football voting on Turner to name the MVP of the game broadcast each Saturday afternoon.