Spalding Shoots for a Unified Message

NEW YORK Spalding plans to leverage its 129-year-old heritage with a “True to the game” campaign that seeks to unify its equipment and sports marketing message with both corporate partners and consumers.

The effort will begin to reach consumers in the fourth quarter on TV and in print, via Winstanley Associates in Lenox, Mass., with an ad spend expected to exceed 2004’s $1.5 million, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

A new tagline and a new icon, an “S” in a circle above the Spalding logo, will immediately be incorporated into promos, packaging and online efforts.

Under the auspices of parent company Russell Corp., Spalding, American Athletic and Huffy Sports were united last year to create the Spalding Group, with $400 million in worldwide trademark sales, per Russell. “True to the game” is its first effort touting a unified message.

“Consumers are familiar with the name Spalding, but they see a fragmented image,” said Dan Touhey, vp of marketing. “We have more than 70 licensees worldwide. Up to this point we haven’t done a very good job of unifying the message and in the consistency of the brand. This will be the bow that ties everything together.”

Spalding in Springfield, Mass., has licensing deals with several sports entities, including the Arena Football League, NCAA, Major Indoor Soccer League and Pop Warner. But its alliance with the NBA and WNBA will remain front and center. “The NBA is the cornerstone of our platform, and we are looking for ways to work even closer with the league,” said Touhey.

Spalding, which in December signed an eight-year exclusive equipment contract with the NBA, plans to work with the NBA Players Association to further expand its pro basketball relationship. The effort will be “print heavy,” according to Touhey.

A media buy is still to be determined, but likely will include sports-centric and basketball-heavy magazines.

“We have the heritage, authenticity, performance and quality,” said Touhey. “This will represent the best of what Spalding has to offer as we move forward.”