When Phillips-Van Heusen Corp. and the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority officially unveil Izod Center on Halloween Wednesday night, it will be more than just a costume change for the 26-year-old venue, previously known as Continental Airlines Arena. For PVH, acquiring the naming rights for Izod Center — located in the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, N.J. — will serve as the centerpiece of a multifaceted marketing effort for not just its Izod main floor brand, but across its entire portfolio, which includes Calvin Klein, Van Heusen and Arrow.
"PVH by definition is a marketing company, and we now have a facility that allows us to cross-market all of our brands," said Allen Sirkin, president and chief operating officer of PVH. Rattling off a slew of hypothetical ideas related to Izod Center, he added: "We could have a fashion show there in support of Calvin Klein, have a sweepstakes for Van Heusen to win tickets to a concert or stage an event related to Arrow's Save Ellis Island campaign. We have already begun dialogues with our in-house teams and partners to come up with ideas and opportunities to activate programs related to Izod Center."
PVH is inviting a group of dignitaries, partners and press to the baptizing of Izod Center on Wednesday, which will feature the regular season home debut of the New Jersey Nets basketball team versus the Chicago Bulls.
Visitors will get a first glimpse of Izod's transformation of the 20,000-seat arena, which will include exterior and interior signage. "The inside will be full of consumer connections to the Izod brand, from the floor of the basketball court and the scoreboard, to pillars, elevators, way-finding signs and food and beverage containers. Anywhere that it's appropriate and tasteful," said Sirkin.
PVH is also investing its own funds to refresh and invigorate the physical facility over the next few months, to make it more inviting and energetic, said Sirkin. Izod — which rings up $1 billion in retail sales across 28 owned and licensed categories, according to the company — will also outfit the staff of the center with logo apparel. "Last week I met with all the ushers, security and ticket takers, and told them: 'Burn all your polyester outfits. We're getting you new clothes,'" he added.PVH has signed a five-year deal with the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority for the naming rights to Izod Center, beating out two other apparel players, Rocawear and Southpole, in the final rounds. The company will pay $1.4 million per year for the first two years of the agreement, and $750,000 a year for the following three years. The third-year price cut is tied to the planned move of the Nets to the yet-to-be-constructed Barclays Center in Brooklyn in 2009.
The loss of the professional sports franchise may reduce the cachet and publicity related to the venue — in fact, Continental Airlines decided in part not to renew its agreement because the New Jersey Devils hockey team abandoned the arena this year for one in Newark. Izod also has a tradition of sports marketing, currently sponsoring the Nets and New York Mets, the Golf Club at Chelsea Piers in New York and the lifeguard corps of Los Angeles, Miami Beach and Walt Disney World resorts and parks — a brand value that first attracted PVH to the Izod Center naming rights, said Manny Chirico, chief executive officer of the company.
However, Sirkin said the eventual departure of the Nets did not dampen PVH's enthusiasm for the deal. "We are interested in the full spectrum of events at the center, including concerts and family entertainment. It's more than a sports arena, which is one reason we chose the name Izod Center. When the Nets leave, it will open the door to even more events there."
On Sunday, PVH introduced advertising in newspapers to trumpet the name change of Izod Center, which will continue throughout the week. In the coming months, the company will begin national point-of-sale, newspaper and direct-mail marketing for its various brands, incorporating sweepstakes and other promotions related to events at the center.
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