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Best Buy's Deal a Sign of the Times
By: Jeff Louis
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BestBuy_LogoBest Buy made their first move into naming rights for an entertainment-related venue, contracting with AEG for a multiyear agreement that will rename the Times Square Nokia Theater the Best Buy Theater. The new name will shine across the 85-feet high marquee beginning in September.

The opportunity for naming rights was left open when Nokia decided not to renew their contract, focusing instead on "reaching customers where they consume content" -- online. According to Drew Panayiotou, Best Buy's marketing chief, it's a great match for the company because Times Square is known for communication and entertainment, key elements of their brand.

Along with the massive high-definition marquee -- one of the largest on Broadway -- it displays live digital video and broadcasts from the theater's stage in real time. It also incorporates text-messaging capabilities to reach mobile phone users. The 2,100-seat theater will be given a high-definition audio and video makeover and feature a lounge with interactive displays that showcase Best Buy's products. Theatergoers will be able to download mobile content and enter contests in the Best Buy lounge.

On the heels of a sagging economy, brands are dropping venue contracts in an effort to refocus marketing dollars, allowing lesser-known companies to paste their names on well-known arenas.

Lesser-known or regionally focused brands now assume the names of buildings and theaters once established as household names. Fiddler's Green Ampitheatre in Greenwood Village, Colo., now is the "Comfort Dental Amphitheater," and Ford Amphitheater in Tampa Bay, Fla., is the "1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheater."

While it serves as a great opportunity for relatively unknown brands to receive national attention, consumers tend to retain an affinity for brand names that resonate and define their community. Buying the rights to rename well-known edifices often is a waste of company budgets when building/venue names are entrenched in the minds of consumers. For instance, Chicago's Sears Tower -- now the Willis Tower -- still carries the Sears' name for tourists and visitors.

Best Buy believes the brand's a natural fit for Times Square.

“A lot of times naming-rights deals are tougher for consumers to digest because there isn’t a natural connection between what happens there and the brand," Panayiotou said. "In this case there is a great connection between our business and what happens there at the theater.”

Time will tell.


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About the Author

Jeff Louis: Media Planner, Brand Project Manager, blogger, and aspiring writer. Please leave a comment or get in touch with Jeff on Twitter. As always, thank you for reading!

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