To Infiniti And Beyond: Automaker Joins NCAA, CBS, Turner As Corporate Partner
Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 08:48AM in College, Infiniti CBS, March Madness, NCAA, Turner, sports marketing

By Barry Janoff, Executive Editor

January 26, 2011: The NCAA has signed a deal with Infiniti that makes the automaker a corporate partner of the NCAA, CBS Sports and Turner Sports, effective immediately.

Infiniti said the alliance would initially focus on the current men's basketball season, culminating with multi-media marketing during March Madness, including the entire 68-team 2011 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball competition and the Final Four, which will be held at Reliant Stadium in Houston on April 2 and April 4.

This season, under terms of a new deal, March Madness games will be shown on CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV.

Financial terms of the Infiniti deal were not disclosed. Last year, Infiniti activated behind college basketball as a partner of ESPN before joining the NCAA as a partner for March Madness.

NCAA marketing partners include AT&T, Capital One, Coca-Cola, Enterprise, The Hartford, LG Electronics, Lowe's, Planters, Reese's, Unilever and UPS.

"Some of the biggest moments in sports come during NCAA basketball each year," Ben Poore, vp-Infiniti Business Unit, said in a statement  "Like many of the teams heading toward the championship tournament, Infiniti is on a winning streak. [Infiniti closed] 2010 with sales up 27.5% over the previous year. The strong momentum is continuing into 2011, led by sales of the new Infiniti M sedan, Infiniti QX56 luxury SUV and the Infiniti G Sedan line, which includes the new G25 sports sedan."

In addition to TV, print, Internet and experiential elements, Infiniti's NCAA marketing will also include custom "Inspired Performance" co-branded features, with Infiniti also serving as the presenting sponsor of Turner's pre-game shows throughout the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship.  In addition, Infiniti will present in-game "coaches spotlights" during the tournament.

"Infiniti has a strong industry brand.  We're pleased that they have chosen to support the academic and athletic mission of the NCAA."

"Infiniti has a fervent enthusiasm for intercollegiate athletics so we welcome them into our corporate partner family," Greg Shaheen, NCAA interim executive vice president for championships and alliances, said in a statement.  "Infiniti has a strong industry brand.  We're pleased that they have chosen to support the academic and athletic mission of the NCAA, exemplified by our coaches and student-athletes."

According to Will Funk, svp-NCAA partnerships and branded programming, Turner Sports Ad Sales, "Together with CBS, we have the ability to activate Infiniti across all 89 NCAA Championships. With customized NCAA-Infiniti branded content distributed across out of home, online, mobile and television, including 2011 March Madness coverage on TBS, CBS, TNT and truTV, the NCAA Corporate Marketing program offers the most unique opportunity in the marketplace to reach passionate and engaged consumers."

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