Steve Ross is a billionaire or has made the Related Companies into one of the most successful commercial real estate companies in the world. He has purchased the Miami Dolphins, has shown savvy to find a way to keep Bill Parcells around, has let the team continue to grow after a surprising playoff season a year ago, and has a host of minority partners who he will tap into, including the legendary Jimmy Buffett. So this week the team announced a short-term deal to rename Dolphins Stadium after A-B's Land Shark Beer, a Buffet brand. Eventhough, as Terry Lefton pointed out in the Sports Business Daily this week, the NFL will have the team remove the name for the Pro Bowl and Super Bowl, the short term benefit to the small brand plus the good will and fun that will be built up through the summer of Marlins baseball and into the fall with the Dolphins will get the team and the area some much needed traction, spin and maybe a little bit of controversy in a down economy. This is not rent a stadium for the day, as some minor league teams have done. This is a smart, calculated move by some very savvy branding folks who probably have a bigger picture play involving the Buffett brand in mind, not to mention a great test market for Anheuser Busch. Will it “devalue” future naming rights deal. In this economy few are actually happening and none at premiums, and today when brands are looking to extract every ounce of added value into any deal, this one may be a bit cash poor but brand profitable. The biggest challenge will be to match branding and goodwill and fun for the new naming rights deal if Land Shark does go away. The images of The Coral Reefer Band may resonate deeper than a bank or other institution who may be willing to pony up after the season. Could it have been done earlier to give the Marlins more chance to adjus. Maybe. But there would have never been an optimal time and if played right, everyone will know where the action is for both teams. Fun, smart branding move for the Fins.
Some other good reads…The Wall Street Journal had a great fund raising piece on The Robin Hood Foundation and their amazing fundraising efforts even in a down economy, and how their new spin of social philanthropy may change the way charities raise… John Feinstein has a good post mortem on the Caps and their bright future in the Washington Post…and Chris Erskine in the LA Times has an interesting idea for a fans Hall of Fame...in this era of tainted heros.