Wrigley, NBA in Pact

NEW YORK It’s been almost 100 years since the Chicago Cubs won the World Series in 1908, so the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co., whose namesake Wrigley Field is home to the baseball team, is trying a different tack.

Wrigley has signed a deal with the National Basketball Association that gives the company exclusive category rights and makes Big Red, Juicy Fruit, Winterfresh, Doublemint and Wrigley’s Spearmint the “official chewing gums of the NBA.” Wrigley and the NBA will work together to develop integrated, NBA-themed marketing platforms for the five chewing gum brands, per the company. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Wrigley also has signed a deal with the New Jersey Nets to become presenting sponsor of “Nets Overtime: The Summer Season,” which runs from now through the first day of the team’s 2007-08 training camp. The alliance will then continue through the 2007-08 regular season and include “extensive Wrigley’s branding during Nets home games.” Wrigley already has a presence on the team’s Web site, which links to Juicy Fruit’s candystand.com

The alliance with the Nets includes an extensive list of elements tailored to Wrigley’s communication goals, including the branding of the Nets locker room and ball boys, gum dispensers on the team benches, as well as courtside and LED signage.

“For years chewing Wrigley’s has been as commonplace among NBA players as much as the crossover dribble,” Mark Tatum, svp, marketing partnerships at the NBA, said in a statement. “The agreement between the NBA and Wrigley’s simply makes it official and provides us with a variety of marketing opportunities using Wrigley’s five well-respected brands.”

Wrigley spends more than $200 million annually on global advertising, and its creative chores are currently in play with three finalists pitching the account. They are: Omnicom Group’s DDB—a roster shop that has Wrigley business in Australia and New Zealand—and two non-roster agencies: Publicis Groupe’s Saatchi & Saatchi and Interpublic Group’s DraftFCB. EnergyBBDO in Chicago remains Wrigley’s lead agency in the U.S., however, and BBDO is expected to remain on the roster.