Yesterday I spent the day at Lambeau Field, home to the NFL's Green Bay Packers and along with Jerry Jones' tribute to his outsized ego, one of a handful of NFL stadiums that doesn't have a corporate name gracing it's facade. If you ever get the chance to make a pilgrimage to this shrine to football, take it. You won't be disappointed. (But that's not the point of this blog.)
Back in 2003 when they renovated the stadium, adding a 365-day-a-year entertainment, restaurant and meeting complex to the classic bowl, there was talk of selling the naming rights to help ease the taxpayers' burden. I'm not sure that anyone really wanted it to happen. I can't imagine the Packers running out of the tunnel onto turf at Kleenex Stadium.
As luck would have it, this article appeared in today's New York Times reporting on the trouble the Giants and Jets are having finding someone to sign a long-term deal for the naming rights to the new NFL stadium at the Meadowlands. I'm not surprised. And it's not because of the economy.
Putting your name on a stadium gets you only one thing, awareness. This means it's a great strategy for a brand that's ready to introduce itself to a wider audience. Who outside of a few techno geeks knew what 3Com was before they bought the naming rights to Candlestick Park? It also means buying naming rights is a terrible long term investment as it only takes a few years of that kind of exposure to build your awareness. Plus, it's a lousy deal for brands that are already deeply ingrained in the national psyche.
If they really want to sell the naming rights to the Meadowlands stadium, they need to change their strategy, focus on shorter deals and look for emerging national brands as their target.
Very few companies with the assets to pay $25 million dollars a year for 20 years need the awareness that comes with that deal and those marketing dollars could be spent a lot more effectively building preference and differentiation in other media. That's why the deal that Anheuser-Busch signed with the Dolphins for Landshark Stadium (distasteful as it is) makes some sense, and the deal that Citi made with the Mets is just plain dumb.