SAS wins MLB account, uses testimonial ads to land clients

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Business intelligence software vendor SAS Institute has been targeting the broad entertainment industry for many years. "Entertainment and sports in particular are enormous markets, with strong brands and huge audiences," said Michael Minelli, account director for SAS' Content, Communications, Entertainment division.

In 2004, SAS scored a major success in marketing to the entertainment industry when it landed Major League Baseball—specifically its Advanced Media division, which operates and other high-tech services—as a client. In initially targeting the company, SAS approached and engaged with a combination of direct sales force efforts, presence at industry-specific events and public relations.

Today, the Web site is one of MLB's most important customer-facing entities and receives more than 1 billion visits a year and 1 billion page views per month. SAS has helped MLB's Advanced Media integrate and organize the customer data it collects to maximize marketing, sales and customer service opportunities.

It's been such a huge success for SAS that the company has leveraged its partnership with MLB—through a testimonial ad campaign featuring Commissioner Bud Selig—to attract other entertainment businesses.

Enlisting such a widely recognized organization as MLB gave SAS traction in more than just the sports world. "Our most active targets in what we define as the entertainment market include gaming, casinos, cable TV, home video divisions of the major film studios, consumer magazines and sports," Minelli said.

Deb Orton, SAS marketing director, and Laura Wilson, director of advertising strategy, worked with MLB executives to put together a compelling, complete story of how SAS helped the sports league and all its teams. The campaign incorporated TV, print and online components. "TV and print are great for building brand awareness and breaking through clutter," Minelli said. "Meanwhile, online marketing enables us to offer many levels of information, as well as the opportunity to build one-to-one relationships."

One of the print ads shows a grinning Selig with a baseball diamond in the background, offset by the simple message "SAS gives the power to know," incorporating SAS' long-standing tagline.

SAS launched the ongoing campaign in April 2005. The company did not divulge ROI numbers but said it has made significant inroads into cable TV, consumer magazines, entertainment direct marketers and the home video divisions of major film companies. Also, it is making a big business push into the gaming and hospitality sectors.

"The campaign gives SAS the opportunity to demonstrate our understanding of the industry, and offers a great baseline to spark interest and attract new customers," Minelli said. "When an organization sees one of its peers doing something well—something that's both practical and tangible—it wants to follow. Success breeds success, especially in the entertainment industry."

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