Big College Buys for Lowe’s, Hershey

IMG College

(from Sports Business Journal, September 3, 2012) Hershey and Lowe’s have both agreed to multimillion-dollar sponsorship deals with IMG College, a rights holder of 77 schools.  Hershey and Lowe’s, both represented by GMR Marketing, also have NCAA corporate partnerships that are separate from their deals with IMG College.  Lowe’s has been a NCAA sponsor since 2005 and Hershey has since 2008.  The deal with IMG College will give both companies more opportunities to connect directly with their schools and markets.

Lowe’s agreed to a four year deal, which is considered to be the largest non-network television deal in college sports.  Lowe’s has recently struggled to keep up with rival home-improvement chain, Home Depot, but the company believes this deal with help them compete.  Tom Lamb, Lowe’s Chief Marketing Officer, recently said, “This unprecedented agreement puts Lowe’s in a position to be top of mind for college sports fans.” The deal allows for Lowe’s to cover all of IMG College’s 77 schools, making it the first sponsor to do so.  Lowe’s has rights to sponsor each school’s mobile app and homecoming activities.  The school apps give fans game-day information on everything from parking to starting lineups for their respective schools.  The app is free to fans, and can be upgraded to a premium version that offers radio broadcasts.

Hershey’s deal with IMG College will deal more in retail with the colleges, mostly through its Reese’s brand.  This is first time a consumer packaged goods company has signed a deal with IMG College.  Hershey, unlike Lowe’s, will only have rights to 40 to 45 of IMG College’s schools.  They will focus primarily on in-store merchandising by using school’s logos on packaging, as well as radio advertising for those schools.  The deal allows for Hershey to use more than one school on a product.

These deals give both companies the ability to localize their marketing and build new relationships with the schools and their communities.  Robert VanDerSnick, IMG College’s Chief of Sales and Marketing Officer said, “It’s encouraging that blue-chip companies are seeing the power of this national platform.”