Owens Corning Shoots for NIT

Owens Corning’s sponsorship of men’s college basketball’s National Invitation Tournament is part of a fresh focus on sports marketing the company hopes will help it reach its male target.

Upcoming advertising from Doner is designed to broaden the company’s image beyond that of an insulation manufacturer, said Michael Baskin, evp and account management director for the Southfield, Mich., agency. The Toledo, Ohio, company sells an array of other building products.

Doner’s efforts include “The Owens Corning NIT Shoot-Out,” an interactive game on ESPN.com. Three banner ads featuring the company’s Pink Panther mascot dunking a basketball through an Owens Corning/NIT logo direct consumers to the game.

Registered players par ticipate in a drawing for a 43-inch high-definition television, and the top 100 scorers each day receive an Owens Corning/NIT hat. Players’ names and information will be compiled for e-mail drops from the client, Baskin said.

TV, radio and print ads will also play up the sports sponsorship. The TV spot is a reworked version of the “No Place Like Home” spot that broke last fall. The spot originally opened with Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz but now begins with the Pink Panther playing with a basketball.

A print ad with the Pink Panther in a basketball uniform spinning a basketball on his tail will run in the NIT game program, ESPN The Magazine, The Sporting News and a special tournament section of USA Today. Another print ad continues the sports theme by featuring a house placed inside a NASCAR racetrack with the heading, “How do you plan on making your house more exciting?”

The results of the NIT sponsorship will determine future efforts, Baskin said.

Owens Corning spent approximately $15 million on advertising in 2001, ac cording to CMR. The company, along with Duracell and 7-Eleven, was a Na tional Hockey League sponsor in 1996.