JetBlue becomes official airline sponsor of UT Athletics
Aug. 26, 2009
Reprinted from Austin American-Statesman (Aug. 26, 2009)
Neither the university nor the airline would disclose the financial details of the deal, but UT women's athletic director Chris Plonsky said that such sponsorships generally carry a value to the athletic department in the six figures.
Plonksy is expected to be at the announcement today at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, along with DeLoss Dodds, UT men's athletic director, and JetBlue executives.
JetBlue's partnership with UT Athletics runs through 2010, with options through 2012. The airline is not an official airline sponsor of any other collegiate sports departments.
The sponsorship with Texas will allow JetBlue to use UT Athletics' name and image in its promotions and to have its name displayed at UT football, baseball, basketball and volleyball games. Print and online advertising, e-mail marketing, videoboard features, contests and giveaways are expected.
Continental Airlines remains the charter carrier for UT's football team.
Kirk Wakefield, professor of marketing and director of the Sports Sponsorship and Sales program at Baylor University's Hankamer School of Business, said JetBlue is banking on sharing in fans' love for the Longhorns.
For the sponsorship to be effective, Wakefield said, fans will have to actively associate JetBlue with UT sports.
Wakefield gave the example of AT&T Inc.'s relationship with pro basketball's San Antonio Spurs, who play in the AT&T Center.
"The whole thing hinges on that activation," he said. "They have to do something that is memorable."
The airline plans to offer discounted flights to and from Austin during some UT home games, said Marty St. George, JetBlue senior vice president of marketing and commercial strategy.
Forest Hills, N.Y.-based JetBlue flies to six cities from Austin: Boston; Fort Lauderdale and Orlando, Fla.; New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport; and San Francisco and Long Beach, Calif.
The airline is the fifth-largest carrier at ABIA, which it has served since January 2006.
The only football opponent in any of those cities that UT has on its schedule this fall is the University of Central Florida in Orlando. That game is in Austin on Nov. 7.
"With an increased presence in Austin, it made perfect sense to connect one of the most important cultural touchpoints in the Austin area," St. George said.
IMG College, a collegiate marketing company and UT Athletics' multimedia partner, negotiated the agreement. JetBlue will pay its sponsorship money to IMG, which will then give UT Athletics its share.
UT Athletics has about 20 corporate sponsors, including Academy Sports and Outdoors, Time Warner Cable, Taco Bell, State Farm Insurance and Wells Fargo & Co.