Adobe sponsors content on ESPN's X Games site

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Graphics software developer Adobe Systems is putting its money where its mouth is by sponsoring content on a Web site as part of a larger cross-media deal with ESPN. The sponsorship is part of its first mass-market, consumer-oriented campaign that broke in October. The $5 million to $10 million effort includes print, outdoor and online media.

The company historically has targeted technologists and corporations with its advertising. But this deal, which positions Adobe as a sponsor of ESPN.com's Winter X Games page, puts the company's brand in front of the consumers it most wants to attract: "a lot of guys with alternative lifestyles, piercings, tattoos," said Adobe VP-Corporate Marketing Melissa Dyrdahl.

"We are doing this because [the Winter X Games] happens to reach the audience at which we are targeting our Web products. The design community overlaps very heavily with the audience of the X Games," Ms. Dyrdahl said.

The X Games event, held Feb. 3 through Feb. 6 in Mount Snow, Vt., is an extreme sports competition hosted by ESPN. It is also held in the summer.

What's unique about the three-week sponsorship is that it started with Adobe's interest in a sponsorship that developed into a cross-media deal, said Greg Regis, VP-national ad sales for the ESPN Internet Group.

"They wanted to be associated with the Winter X Games and they wanted to do it online to showcase their GoLive [Web authoring] application," he said.

Adobe built the Winter X Games area on ESPN.com using its GoLive software.

PRINT AND ONLINE, BUT NO TV

The online component, which features Adobe's rich-media and streaming video applications, is part of a sponsorship package Adobe purchased for an undisclosed sum. The deal includes a sponsored rich-media feature; Adobe's logo on all Winter X Games pages; banner rotations within ESPN.com and within the X Games page (www.espn.go.com/extreme); eight sponsored news vignettes about the games on ESPN Radio Network; two ads in ESPN The Magazine; and exposure at the event, including signage and Jumbotron commercials. Also under the deal, Adobe will provide translations of localized content on the site to German, Spanish, French and Japanese users. The missing link is a TV buy, which was too expensive for Adobe's budget.

Y&R Advertising, San Francisco, Adobe's agency of record, created the print ads and banners, which promote Adobe as a Winter X Games sponsor as well as its Web software.

"We were interested in the whole online aspect and being able to direct traffic back to our site," Ms. Dyrdahl said. "And we wanted the connection of ESPN.com with the Adobe brand."

Web-site sponsorships are great tools for marketers wishing to expand their exposure to a particular audience, said Jupiter Communications Analyst Michele Slack. Another example is Miller Lite's sponsorship of the Super Bowl XXXIV site, (www.superbowl.com), she said.

"The Super Bowl lasts for only one day. But the site is up for several weeks prior to the Super Bowl and after. [Miller Lite] can expand the amount of time they spend with the consumer."

While Anheuser-Busch had 10 spots on ABC's bowl broadcast, rival Miller Brewing Co. rules the Web site.

"If you can lock in sponsorships of event-related Web sites," Ms. Slack said, "you can better grab consumers' attention."

Copyright January 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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