Scion Rides Shotgun in ESPN Deal

Aug 15, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Auto brand Scion will be the presenting sponsor of “ESPN Hollywood” when it debuts today on ESPN2.

The deal reflects ESPN’s strategy of creating tentpole programming for ESPN2 that gives the network an independent identity and creates brands to which sponsors can bond.

ESPN and Scion have been discussing the sponsorship since the idea for the show was floated last year, said Ed Erhardt, president of customer marketing and sales for ESPN/ABC Sports. “They recognized the collision of sports and entertainment and music, which continues to grow, and they see ‘ESPN Hollywood’ as a great place to park their brand.”

Scion, a division of Toyota, will be the only automaker airing commercials during “ESPN Hollywood.” The carmaker will be mentioned at the beginning of the show and whenever the program is promoted, getting “the full multimedia car wash treatment,” Mr. Erhardt said. “Getting a position like that, you become part of the brand, especially when it launches.”

Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Mr. Erhardt said Scion had been an ESPN advertiser, but this sponsorship increases its investment in ESPN and puts a significant share of its money on ESPN2.

ESPN also has signed Kay Jewelers as presenting sponsor of its upcoming original movie “Codebreakers,” which will air Dec. 10. Kay sponsored ESPN’s movie “3,” about the life of Dale Earnhardt. “Codebreakers” is an account of the cheating scandal that rocked the 1951 Army football team.

Mr. Erhardt said ESPN is using its ESPN Original Entertainment franchise as a place that advertisers can own and have equity in the brands as they’re created.

Among the original shows that advertisers have latched on to are “Pardon the Interruption,” presented by Diageo Brands; “Around the Horn,” presented by Nissan; and “The World Series of Poker” presented by Milwaukee’s Best Light.

ESPN2 also has sponsored programming blocks, such as the Engine Block, presented by Advance Auto Parts, and the Tough Guy Block, presented by Tinactin.