Telco Ericsson calls on James Bond, volleyball

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Ericsson Corp. is making a play for greater brand awareness in the U.S. and around the world by sponsoring the inaugural World Championships of Beach Volleyball.

The Swedish telecommunications giant also will tie into United Artists Pictures' forthcoming James Bond flick, "Tomorrow Never Dies."


Ericsson will serve as the presenting sponsor of the first-ever beach volleyball championships, staged and marketed by Nike Sports & Entertainment, the event marketing arm of the athletic footwear and apparel giant.

The event is scheduled for Sept. 10 to 13 at the University of California-Los Angeles and will be broadcast on NBC on Sept. 14. It represents the coming together of several volleyball organizations: the International Federation of Volleyball, the Association of Volleyball Professionals, the Women's Professional Volleyball Association, and two men's and women's pro leagues.

"Ericsson is mainly a business-to-business company, but we're looking to build brand awareness with consumers via our mobile phone division, which is driving the sponsorship," an Ericsson spokesman said.

This represents the first major sponsorship deal the fledgling Nike unit has inked to any of its events since starting up last fall. Also attached to the World Championships of Beach Volleyball as associate sponsors are Nike and Pepsi-Cola Co.

Sponsorship revenue from the three companies so far tied to the event is said to exceed $2 million. Ericsson is still working out how it will leverage its sponsorship, but an extensive on-site (and TV-visible) presence is planned, from signage to a hot air balloon hovering above the event.

The sponsorship represents the kinds of deals Nike Sports & Entertainment is looking to strike. A characteristic of each sponsorship will be participation in a grass-roots program tied to every event the Nike unit will stage.

In this case, Ericsson will help back four volleyball clinics in the Los Angeles area.

"It's in keeping with our tagline `It's about people. The rest is about technology,' " said the Ericsson spokesman.

Nike's sports activism arm, Participate in the Lives of America's Youth, will also support those clinics.


The "Tomorrow Never Dies" promotion is designed to give Ericsson's mobile phones global exposure. Anchoring the program will be extensive product placement in the movie, with James Bond using a futuristic-looking phone that plays a key part in a particular action sequence.

Ericsson will support the tie-in with in-store promotions at retailers. The movie opens in December.

Copyright June 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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