Budget expands Turner/NBA ad deal

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Budget Rent A Car Corp. will announce today it has significantly expanded its sponsorship of the National Basketball Association's broadcasts on Turner Broadcasting System's TNT and TBS Superstation.

The Budget Group subsidiary has signed on as broadcast sponsor for the entire regular season vs. last year, when it first became an NBA-broadcast sponsor in midseason. The estimated $6 million deal includes major national and spot buys during broadcasts, a presence on NBA.com, sponsorship of in-arena promotions, as well as sponsorship of the NBA's "Jam Van" tour to 20 cities from January through May.

"Budget's sponsorship of the NBA broadcasts provides us with a unique opportunity to link our well-recognized brand, with its focus on youthful, techno-savvy renters, with a national pastime whose image is cutting edge," said Mike Gavelek, VP-marketing at the car rental company.

The marketer gets one 30-second spot per broadcast, but the sponsorship offers other exposure. Budget's "Fastbreak of the Night" will be broadcast at the start of the fourth quarter. The marketer now is more aggressively touting Fastbreak, the name of its express rental service, which has a good tie-in with basketball, said Pryce Boeye, senior director of national marketing and advertising.

SHOOTING HOOPS

Budget also sponsors the "TBS/TNT Million Dollar Shootout," which lets fans try to win money by shooting baskets during halftime.

The deal "represents a significantly expanded participation by Budget across the entire NBA season on our networks," said Keith Cutler, exec VP-sports sales and marketing at Turner. The buy includes all 81 regular-season games on TBS and TNT, a minimum of 37 playoff games, the all-star game and the NBA draft.

He said this year Turner's NBA broadcasts will be more consistent than last year, with TNT carrying games every Wednesday and Thursday and TBS showing all Tuesday night games. Last year, the two cable networks carried games on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, but not all of the games played on those days of the week.

Turner, for the first time, will use the same TV promotions for its NBA broadcasts on both cable networks. The spots are created in-house.

Budget will use existing TV commercials from Cliff Freeman & Partners, New York.

Competitive Media Reporting data show Budget has been increasing ad spending, allocating $13 million for measured media during the first half of 2000, up from $18 million for all of 1999. Mr. Boeye said the 2001 ad budget will rise a bit, but the real change is shifting more ad dollars into one high-profile area. This deal, he said, represents Budget's biggest single ad push.

Budget Group announced third-quarter results Oct. 27.

While revenues rose to $707.9 million, up 1.8% from the same period a year ago, net income slid 62.1% to $11.3 million.

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