Monday, October 08, 2007

Cubs do it! They’re in the playoffs! At least for a little while…

I wouldn’t be doing my Chicagoly duty if I did not write a bit about the Cubs making it to the playoffs. But alas, the Cubbies couldn’t make it past the Diamondbacks.

The whole excitement got me thinking about what people are calling a new trend in baseball – corporate sponsorship and naming rights. This goes well beyond corporate naming – this is brand identification. Afterall, Wrigley Field is named after a corporation, Wrigley Gum, or at least named after the owner. Could Wrigley Field ever be renamed without a major uproar? I doubt it so much that I’m worried to talk about it in this neighborhood (don’t mess with a Cubs fan).

So what are the 10 key drivers of stadium naming value? In other words, what are the driving factors when deciding on spending 10’s or 100’s of millions of dollars to have your name on a stadium? Here’s what I think:

1. Team Record: Obviously a stadium associated with a winning team is more valuable than a not so winning one.
2. Attendance: “If you build it, they will come.” And if they come, it might make sense to buy the name.
3. Fan Demographics: How well does your product touch the lives of the fans?
4. Location, Location, Location: Buying the name in your company’s hometown is going to be more valuable than some place not associated with your company.
5. Political Backlash: Consider the political ramifications (and damage to the brand) that renaming might bring.
6. Perennial Favorites: Sponsoring an old favorite like the Cubs conveys a company's enduring commitment to a genuine classic all-American sport.
7. Investment Awareness: Buying a stadium name is expensive, but it is also a long-term investment. Where will your money best be spent?
8. Ch-ch-changes: Your company name will be difficult and confusing to change once it is associated with the stadium. Consider this before writing your check.
9. Sport Popularity: Consider the value of your company name on the Chicago Competitive Underwater Basket Weaving Nadatorium.
10. Contents of the Deal: What else do you get with the deal, and where else does your name go. In Chicago, for example, the United Center's employee uniforms, napkins, plates, trash cans, letterhead and drinking cups are adorned with United's name. That enhances value.

Given all of these considerations, I think I will hold off on my bid to turn Wrigley Field into Stinson Brand Innovation Park. This isn’t an option for everyone, but it does have some kind of potential.

Take a listen to an NPR piece on the subject…

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