Rams Ace Bob Reif inks marketing deal with sportswear company
By Mary Jo Feldstein
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
HISTORIC MARKETING DEAL that changes the name of the practice facility for ONE DAY!
Head Coach Scott Linehan with Russell Athletic President Doug Kelly.
Bob Reif and Curt Curtis
The St. Louis Rams, led by Bob Reif, President of Audible Marketing and Sports Agency, and sportswear company Russell Athletic, headed by CEO, Doug Kelly, have reached a multiyear branding agreement that will include renaming the Rams' practice facility and other marketing initiatives.
Rams Park, the team's practice facility in Earth City, will be renamed the "Russell Athletic Training Center, Home of the St. Louis Rams."
The agreement will last at least five years. The exact value is unknown, but it's in the seven figures, one of the parties involved said Friday.
The deal also includes naming the playing field at the Edward Jones Dome the "Russell Athletic Field" for Monday night's game against the Chicago Bears. The one-day field-naming-rights agreement is believed to be the first of its kind in sports-marketing history, the organizations said.
Patrick Rishe, an assistant professor of economics at Webster University, said he thinks the field-naming-rights deal would be more effective if the agreement included more games. But he thinks selling naming rights to the field might start a trend.
"It's not a strategy that is completely off the wall when you consider that teams are always looking for new ways to generate revenue," Rishe said. "I would not be surprised to see more teams follow this approach."
The Rams and Russell had negotiated a multi-week field-naming-rights agreement, but Russell decided it would rather spend the money on fan promotions and other marketing initiatives, said Bob Reif, president of Endeavor Properties of Los Angeles. The Rams hired Endeavor about two years ago to take over marketing operations.
Although the Rams would like the "Monday Night Football" announcers to include the Russell name as they identify the field, they are under no legal obligation to do so.
Reif thinks the Russell agreement will help expand the Rams' fan base and product sales. The deal is Russell's first with a National Football League team.
"It's just a big feather in our cap," Reif said. "Typically, the Rams have not been looked at as a marketing juggernaut in the league."
Also for Monday's game,
Russell, which is based in Atlanta, will provide fans in attendance with commemorative white T-shirts. Fans will be asked to wear the T-shirts to create a "white out" effect similar to a marketing campaign the Miami Heat basketball team used this summer before winning the NBA championship.
Russell hopes to benefit from an "influencer" marketing strategy. It wants to leverage the expertise and influence of every level of the Rams' organization. Players, coaches, cheerleaders and staff will be involved in product testing, strategy and design.
The agreement includes product endorsements by Rams' head coach
, who will wear Russell gear for off-field events. Russell also will be the exclusive clothing sponsor of the Rams' cheerleaders.
Russell plans to reposition and relaunch its brand based in part on input from the Rams. "That's not uncommon," Rishe said. "It gives their brand an additional validation."