FedEx, longest-running title sponsor of the bowl season, balked at renewing its 21-year lease on naming rights to the Orange Bowl because it didn't want to pony up for ESPN's season-long ad blitz, especially if it meant a four-year commitment in a down economy. But it didn't take the Worldwide Leader long to find a mega-corp itching for maximum exposure this fall: The Sports Business Journal reports today that chocolate giant Hershey's is close to finishing a four-year deal worth $20 million a year to make the Hershey's Orange Bowl a reality, complete with the commercial obligations throughout the season and above-the-fold rights to the Miami leg of the BCS Championship Game rotation in January 2013. (Mmmmm, chocolate giant...)
It's a match made in heaven from the company's point of view – a delicious, monochromatic heaven:
Hershey's also has sponsorships with the universities of Texas and Tennessee, both of whom use orange, or a variant, as their primary color. Of course, Reese's uses orange for its packaging, which would be a match for the Orange Bowl as well.
Well, there's that, and also the opportunity to get commercials in front of several million viewers every weekend in the two months leading up to Halloween, every candy company's Christmas. (We hear CEO David West is also a big fan of the Kansas marching band.) Hershey's is already a major NCAA partner, sponsoring the College All-Star Game for the dozen remaining seniors in college basketball at the site of the Final Four, and has deals with the Big Ten and Big East.
Say, what are the odds the company acts as a peace broker against the former's imperial ambitions toward the latter? Not very good, especially since losing the Big East as an automatic BCS conference would frankly be a godsend for the Orange Bowl's flagging ratings, languishing at the bottom of the big-money pecking order each of the last four years. It's dog eat dog out there, especially if the dog tastes anything like creamy orange-chocolate truffle bars with Hershey's Special Dark chocolate chips. Mmmmmm, chocolate dog ...