This Off-Season Is Brought to You by Wrigley

Brand Sponsors New Jersey Nets' Summer Activities

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Pro-sports franchises are forever seeking more stuff to sell to would-be sponsors, to the point where few sections of arenas aren't ad-plastered and it seems no beer, bleacher area, gate giveaway or halftime entertainment is left unbranded.
Who needs games? Logos were on display at a Vince Carter press conference.
Who needs games? Logos were on display at a Vince Carter press conference.

But even against that backdrop, basketball's New Jersey Nets have pulled a neat trick: The team has found a major sponsor for the months when it's not playing.

Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. has signed on as the presenting sponsor of "Nets Overtime," defined as "the time period from the conclusion of the Nets playoff run through the first day of the team's 2007-2008 training camp."

Fresh idea
While the deal also includes an in-season component, veteran sports marketers said they couldn't recall another case of a team finding a presenting sponsor during its absence. "That's a new one," said Marc Ganis, CEO of Chicago-based consultancy SportsCorp.

In an interview, Nets Chief Marketing Officer Tom Glick explained that the offering grew out of a realization that the off-season had become both a busier time for the team and a period of greater engagement for its fans.

In addition to high-profile events such as player signings, trades and the NBA Draft, the team also puts on an extensive slate of community events, basketball clinics, summer camps and even dancer tryouts that have lacked a sponsor.

"We felt very strongly that there was an opportunity for a sponsor to take advantage of all that," said Mr. Glick, who declined to disclose financial details of the arrangement.

Wrigley's deal with the Nets delivered a fairly significant public-relations coup when the logos for each of its trademark gum brands were checkered throughout a backdrop at July's much-televised announcement that the team had resigned its leading scorer, dynamic shooting guard Vince Carter, to a $66 million contract through the 2010-2011 season.

"That's an example of how we're able to have an ongoing conversation with fans throughout the year," a Wrigley spokeswoman said. "The off-season has become a very busy time for the team. ... We thought it was a unique opportunity in the No. 1 media market."
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