Mar 11, 2010 at 03:42 PM
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Kraft Inks Partnership with NCAA/CBS Sports

Kraft Foods' U.S. Snacks business has partnered with the NCAA and CBS Sports to become an Official NCAA Corporate Partner for several of its flagship snack brands, including Planters, Ritz, Oreo and Wheat Thins. The sponsorship will provide promotional and marketing rights for the NCAA and all 88 of its men's and women's championships. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

As part of the agreement announced today, the brands will be featured as the NCAA's official Cookie, Nut and Cracker partners through in-store promotions and with a major advertising buy on CBS Sports starting in March with the Network's exclusive coverage of the "Road to the Final Four."

"This partnership is a slam dunk for Kraft Foods," said Stephen Chriss, Senior Director, Marketing Alliances at Kraft Foods. "It gives us an opportunity to connect our delicious snack brands with key audiences in a big way."

Planned marketing initiatives include new product sampling, contests, promotions, and college-themed displays in retail stores throughout the year.

"Having Kraft Foods on board as part of the NCAA team is a win for everyone involved," said Peter Davis, NCAA Director of Corporate Alliances. "Associating with well-known brands like Planters, Oreo, Ritz and Wheat Thins helps increase awareness and build excitement for all of our NCAA sports and the fans who support our student-athletes and championships."

"We are thrilled to have Kraft Foods join the NCAA Corporate marketing family at CBS Sports," said Chris Simko, Senior Vice President CBS Sports Sales and Marketing & Director CBS Sports Properties Group. "This is exactly the kind of integrated promotional partnership that has become synonymous with CBS Sports' NCAA corporate marketing program."

The initial sampling effort during NCAA March Madness will feature Wheat Thins snacks and two of the company's newest snack products: Ritz Munchables pretzel crisps and Planters Flavor Grove almonds and cashews. In addition, people can follow Mr. Peanut's Road to the 2010 NCAA Final Four in Indianapolis by becoming fans of Mr. Peanut on Facebook.

In recent years, Kraft has expanded its sports marketing initiatives to include NASCAR and the U.S. Open in an attempt to raise the profile of its flagship snacks brands. The company announced in January 2010 that Oreo and Ritz are the official cookie and cracker of NASCAR, in addition to its sponsorship of Stewart-Haas Racing drivers Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman.

"Showcasing our big brands on big stages takes our marketing and merchandising to new heights, providing perfect venues to elevate our equities, reach new audiences and promote new products in unique ways," says Chriss.