Y&R, Landor to Reposition NCAA

Eager to put the student back in student athlete, the National Collegiate Athletic Association has tapped Young & Rubicam and Landor Associates for its first national branding campaign.

The San Francisco shops, both of which are part of WPP Group’s Y&R Cos., pitched the business together. Other contenders included Publicis in Mid America in Indianapolis, which handled TV creative for the NCAA Final Four men’s college basketball tournament last spring, and Fleishman-Hillard in St. Louis, which has handled PR for the NCAA and partnered with an undisclosed creative agency in Washington, D.C., for the pitch, sources said.

Client representatives could not be reached for comment.

“This is a tremendous creative opportunity,” said Penny Baldwin, president and COO of Y&R San Francisco. “This agency has been underrecognized for its caliber of work. This is a high-profile campaign. The world will find out what we’re capable of in San Francisco.”

Over the past year, Landor, a branding consultancy, has conducted research to gauge the NCAA’s image in the marketplace and worked on a brand strategy and repositioning, said Landor senior research strategist Jeff Jacobs.

“The mission of the NCAA is about supporting student athletes,” said Jacobs. “In the past, a lot of their marketing communications focused on sports promotion, but that is not the full story of the NCAA. The new campaign will refocus their marketing communications and have more of a balance or integration of sports and academics.”

Landor will create a corporate look and feel for the Indianapolis-based client and do brand architecture work, said Jacobs.

TV, print, radio and outdoor ads from Y&R will break in early 2003. TV will air on CBS and ESPN, which have existing broadcast relationships with the NCAA.

Paul Hastings, svp and management account director at Y&R, said the campaign will take a “serious but very personable tone to tell the story of student athletes through the voice of student athletes.” That concept was pitched during the review, he said.

Billings could not be determined. The NCAA spent nearly $2 million on advertising in 2001 and more than $1 million through the first eight months of 2002, per CMR.

This is the fourth new-business win this year for Y&R San Francisco, following Havoline, Vignette and the San Francisco Opera. The office now claims $160 million in billings.