Lacrosse Mailer Pursues Big-Money Sponsors

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Scoring its first national TV contract, the National Lacrosse League has begun a direct mail campaign to raise $4 million in national sponsorships.

The business-to-business mailing began two weeks ago to 300 sports marketing executives at large corporations and will go to 200 more by January. Jim Jennings, the league's commissioner, said there are six national sponsors that generate $500,000 for the league. The goal is to sign eight companies to two-year national sponsorship packages at a price of $500,000 each.

"What we have basically done is offer them an advertising package worth about $2 million in inventory for $500,000," he said. "Ideally, we want to get eight agreements out of the 500 people we target. We offer them national commercial time, arena signage, carpet logos and public address announcements."

Targeted with the mail pieces were the vice presidents of sports marketing at companies such as American Airlines, Canon USA, Coca-Cola and Ford Motor Co.

"We are not really targeting any small to medium-sized businesses here," he said. "Companies who have funds in their budgets allocated for sports marketing are our targets."

The pieces were sent overnight priority to avoid the risk of them getting held up as a result of the anthrax scare, Jennings said.

They were sent in a white envelope containing a personalized cover letter, a brochure of the league's national kids program called Scoop and Shoot, a proposal outlining the sponsorship package and a CD-ROM containing details on the league. The package was designed in-house. The cover letter, signed by Jennings, told recipients they would receive a call within a few days to follow up on their interest.

The campaign cost about $25,000.

No agreements have been reached, Jennings said, but about eight meetings have been arranged with people who have responded.

The 16-year-old league has 13 teams in cities including New York, Washington, Philadelphia, Toronto and Montreal. It has been seen mainly in the northeast United States and parts of Canada, but will be seen for the first time elsewhere in the United States through a national TV contract from CNNSI.

Jennings said the recently expanded audience prompted the league's first major BTB effort.

"There is now the potential for us to be seen in 23 million homes," he said. "We are now going to be seen on a national level, and that gives us the opportunity to go out and try to bring national sponsors aboard."

The league opens its season Nov. 16.

Along with a new TV contract, four new teams debut. They include the New Jersey Storm, which will send 310,000 e-mails this week as part of a campaign to sell season tickets. The e-mail campaign follows a 25,000-piece mail drop in September and a 10,000-piece effort targeting churches, schools and businesses that went out last week.

Dave Popkin, director of marketing and public relations for the New Jersey Storm, said the September mailing aimed to sell season-ticket plans while this month's mailing seeks to generate group sales for specific games.

"From the September mailing we have gotten some orders for season-ticket plans," he said. He had no response numbers for the mailing delivered last week.

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