College sports means big money for media. ESPN's four-year, $500 million deal to broadcast college football's Bowl Championship Series national title games, and the 14-year, $11 billion deal that CBS and Turner Sports signed to televise the NCAA men's basketball tournament is proof enough.
But aside from broad NCAA-wide sponsorships, marketers hadn't quite figured out an efficient way to tap into those passionate regional fan bases on a local level -- until now. IMG Worldwide last week announced a four-year, $100 million agreement with UPS that gives it in one package-deal category exclusive rights to 68 schools whose marketing rights IMG now owns.
"We looked at the college landscape, and going to individual schools, that becomes a real monster. This deal gave us a new way of looking at the school, and going to the local market is really impactful," said Ron Rogowski, VP of global sponsorships and events for UPS. "You can do a broad-based marketing plan; we have a [sponsorship] with the NCAA. But when you get down to the school level it really is unique from a sponsorship level. It doesn't have every school, but 68 schools is pretty good. That's 68 schools, 68 contracts and 68 conference calls with attorneys we would have had to make."
Those 68 schools also give the Atlanta-based package-delivery company access to college-sports fans in 49 of the top 50 markets across the country through multi-tiered marketing relationships.
UPS can use the logos of those schools, which include Notre Dame, Alabama and Michigan, and has category exclusivity to an array of marketing assets, including local TV, radio and digital channels, in-stadium, licensing and game-day activations at more than 250 college venues, and in-store promotion.
George Pyne, president of sports and entertainment at IMG Worldwide, called it a "historic" deal.
"We put the local buy for 68 schools under one platform," said Mr. Pyne.
Sports-marketing experts estimated that it would cost a marketer double or even triple UPS' $100 million investment to go to every school individually for a similar sponsorship.
While UPS has category rights in shipping and packaging, IMG is also talking with other marketers in other categories. Last month it inked an agreement with Old Navy to have the retailer sell college logo-adorned merchandise. Terms of the season-only deal were not disclosed, but Old Navy is believed to be marketing the campaign with a $5 million spend, according to executives close to the deal. An Old Navy spokesperson declined to comment on the IMG deal.