Nov 2, 2007

Odd Sponsorship

So the Continental Airlines Arena is the New Jersey Meadowlands, home of the New Jersey Nets is now known as the Izod Center.

And I'm trying to figure out who decided that a brand that aspires to exclusivity and class (especially vis a vis its archrival Polo) should put its name on a basketball arena. In a swamp. In New Jersey.

Unless of course Izod is putting its logo on the Nets uniforms or something.

Which would definitely be even more puzzling


Anonymous said...

At first glance, nothing about this makes sense.

However, thinking back to my first (and only) trip to the Jersey shore, where everyone was running around in at least two pastel-colored Lacoste polo shirts (collars up, of course), gold chains and white sneakers, it's all came together for me.

You've got to be where your consumers are. Even if that's Dirty Jersey.

Alan Wolk said...

If I was from Minnesota, I'd think long and hard about making fun of New Jersey.

In any case, the guys you saw at the Jersey shore are not the Nets fan base, which is a mix between urban (Newark) and upscale suburban (Short Hills, Ridgewood, Alpine) - plenty of New Yorkers in the mix as well, since the Nets are a much better team than the Knicks these days too.

The Garden State is a lot more than the Jersey Shore and the refineries on the way to the airport. There's the horse country out around Far Hills where Jackie O. had her country house. And, more pertinently, the Norman Rockwell-esque suburbs of Essex County where a goodly percentage of married 30 and 40 something ad creatives now live, having abandoned Westchester and Connecticut for the most part.

Anonymous said...

I admit to being a little out of the loop on the Nets fan base and shouldn't have spoken without knowing what I was talking about (though, if not that, what else is the internet for).

However, I did want to point out that I wasn't trying to make fun of New Jersey just to be rude, but rather to make a point. The same way that auto dealers like BMW are at the Minnesota State Fair even though a state fair is hardly as upscale as the brand, Lacoste might find that it makes sense to be the sponsor of the Nets stadium, if only to be where the consumers are. But, again, I am out of my element and may be wrong on this one.

One hopes there is SOME sort of a business reason behind the move though.

It was just my guess on what the reason could be.

Anonymous said...


Most of these naming rights seem to go only to the highest bidder, without much logic or marketing sense. I don't know if this is still true, but in Seattle, at least, the naming rights were sold to local companies (e.g., Safeco Field, Key Arena).

Where is Izod located? In fact, I am a huge sports fan and am not even sure I know what Izod stuff looks like. So it doesn't work for me. My attention would be more likely drawn to beer than to clothing.

HighJive said...

lewis green is right. Might add that it’s also probably about corporate ego.

The Nets’ fan base might be as you claim, but the people who can actually afford to attend games are in the Izod demographic—at least from an income standpoint.

In Chicago, the major arenas include U.S. Cellular Field, the United Center and Wrigley Field. It would be interesting to really find out if brands benefited from these sponsorships. The Nets’ arena used to be Continental Arena. Does anyone even fly Continental anymore? Consumers don’t give a shit about the arena sponsor.

Alan Wolk said...

@HJ: Many people fly Continental. In fact, it's generally regarded as the best of the major US airlines. (Not a huge compliment, I realize, but still...)

More than that, Continental has its hub at Newark/Liberty Airport, so most NJ and NYC residents have flown Continental at some point in their life.

And while the people at the game may be able to afford Izod's clothing, Izod doesn't make basketball attire - unlike say, Nike, Adidas, Reebok, or even Champion

@Lewis: Izod is the first clothing brand I can think of that sponsored a stadium. Their clothing features the alligator in the picture at the top of this post. It's primarily tennis clothing - Rene Lacoste, who started the company, was a well-known French tennis player in the last century. They've branched into golf as well-- it's a very preppy-associated brand-- but basketball?? Seems like an odd association.

@DB: I was just busting your chops. Lots of people make fun of NJ. Though it is very 1998 ;)

HighJive said...

Guess my overall point was missed: No one (at least consumers, that is) really gives a shit about sponsorships. U.S. Cellular doesn’t make baseball gear for the Chicago White Sox or supply them with cell phones (and despite being headquartered in the Chicagoland area, it’s not even among the top 4 wireless services in the region). Wrigley doesn’t make baseball gear either, but that doesn’t stop them from sponsoring the Chicago Cubs’ homefield (and most of the players chew tobacco and sunflower seeds, not Doublemint gum). United is based in Chicago, but it’s a failing airline. It may not even be the official airline of the Chicago Bulls. It’s all about corporate egos, money and politics. It has nothing to do with brand relevance.

Alan Wolk said...

@HJ: You just need to work on making your point more clearly ;)

Seriously though, Izod is a relatively small company compared to the banks and airlines who generally sponsor stadiums (stadia?)

Either some very big egos, or the arena is going for cheap. Quite possible since the Nets are allegedly moving to Brooklyn and there are no major league sports teams playing there now that the Devils have decamped for Newark.

Not to mention all the construction from the Xanadu amusement park complex they're putting up more or less in the parking lot.

HighJive said...

Went to the Izod website and found info about the stadium. Apparently, Izod is owned by Phillips-Van Heusen, the company that technically won the rights to name the stadium (i.e., paid money). The article on the site attempts to explain the relevance. PVH is apparently involved in the NJ area, or so they claim. Although it’s still a case of fuzzy relevance. Or brand irrelevance.

Alan Wolk said...

@HJ: Thanks for the research. P-VH is a much bigger company. That makes sense.

Anonymous said...

Izod and Lacoste (with the alligator logo) are actually two different brands. To enter the US market Lacoste licensed its brand to Izod in the 80's (maybe 70's) and the clothes were sold under the joint name Izod Lacoste. Lacoste ended the licensing deal sometime in the 90's and they are no longer affiliated. As a consumer, Izod appears to be a much lower end brand (i.e. Dockers) if you actually look at their products and stores. Unfortunately for Lacoste, many people in the US still think they are the same thing.

Alan Wolk said...

@Anonymous (11.14.07) : Thanks for the insight. I own a bunch of Lacoste shirts and had no idea they were no longer affiliated with Izod. I've seen the lower-priced Izod shirts advertised but assumed they were Chaps to Lacoste's Polo.