Best Buy Theater Reaches Times Square

Aug 26, 2010

By Tom Ryan

The Nokia Theater in Times Square, a 2,100-capacity room owned
by the national concert promoter AEG Live, will become the
Best Buy Theater in mid-September. The theater will mark Best Buy’s
first foray into naming rights for any entertainment site.

The David Rockwell-designed theater opened
in 2005 in the space formerly occupied by the Loews Astor Plaza movie theater
at a cost of $21 million. Its lobby and corridors were used for stylish neon
displays of Nokia’s mobile phones. The Best Buy Theater will receive some acoustical
upgrades as well as new high-definition screens and a lounge area with interactive
displays showcasing consumer electronics sold at Best Buy. The retailer will
also use the site to host corporate events such as product introductions.

"If you’re going to shows, and you’re going to shows in Times Square, then
you’re the kind of customer we want to build a relationship with," Drew
Panayiotou, Best Buy’s chief of marketing, told The New York Times.

"Now more than ever, it’s clear to us that Times Square has become
the perfect showplace for the merging of entertainment, music and technology,
and the Best Buy Theater is the ideal venue to showcase this integration," said
Todd Goldstein, president, AEG Global Partnerships, in a statement.

Rock band
Linkin Park officially opens the Best Buy Theater on September 14.

The Times article
noted the economy is causing many major corporations to rethink investments
in naming rights for sports arenas and concert halls, creating opportunities
for others, including some much smaller businesses as well as atypical sponsors
such as retailers.

One potential risk is that naming-rights deals often annoy
fans and critics of blatant corporate sponsorship. But Mr. Panayiotou said
the deal made sense because of Best Buy’s position as one of the country’s
leading music retailers.

"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," Mr. Panayiotou said. "In this case there is a great
connection between our business and what happens there at the theater."

Eagle Outfitters in June landed naming rights to a concert complex to open
next to Heinz Field, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Other naming rights
deals involving retailers include Target Field in Minneapolis and Dick’s Sporting
Goods Park in Commerce City, CO.

Discussion Questions: What do you think of naming rights deals for retailers
and consumer goods companies? Is this marketing money well spent?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

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9 Comments on "Best Buy Theater Reaches Times Square"

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Len Lewis
Len Lewis
10 years 8 months ago

I can see the attraction and these projects generally have a positive impact on the area in which they are located. I’ve watched Times Square go from a grimy, crime-ridden neighborhood to Disneyland/Las Vegas strip.

But no matter what you do, you’re going to offend someone who sees it as a blatant advertisement. And if you’re thinking of obtaining naming rights you better make sure your reputation stays squeaky clean or else your name is up there in lights to throw proverbial rocks at.

Overall, I think retailers and manufacturers are better off endowing a chair in their company’s name at a university or attaching their names to community projects that people will associate with something positive.

Ralph Jacobson
10 years 8 months ago

Perhaps the first naming rights in North America may have begun when the Anheuser-Busch company in 1953 proposed re-naming Sportsman’s Park, occupied by the St. Louis Cardinals, to “Budweiser Stadium.” When this idea was rejected by Ford Frick, the Commissioner of Baseball at that time, Anheuser-Busch then proposed the title “Busch Stadium.” And that idea was passed.

I’m not certain any of these corporate sponsorships help or hurt the venue, however it typically generates revenue for the brand. Great move, Best Buy!

Dan Berthiaume
Dan Berthiaume
10 years 8 months ago

I’ve always thought naming deals were overrated–it definitely gets a company’s name out in a constant, public way, but quickly these sponsorships fade out of the public consciousness. For example, I just saw Tom Petty perform at a venue everyone in Massachusetts calls “Great Woods,” although officially it is known as the Comcast Center and has gone through numerous sponsor names in the past 10 years or so. And everyone around here still says “Foxboro Stadium,” “Boston Garden,” etc.

Ed Rosenbaum
10 years 8 months ago

Best Buy is a company with an emphasis on family entertainment. The synergy between them and Times Square is obvious. They have made a good decision; and it should pay off for them.

My concern with naming rights is when there is no relationship between the buyer and the facility. Several years ago a company, no longer in business, whose main product was underwear bought the naming rights for the Miami Dolphins Stadium which was then known as Joe Robbie Stadium. Joe Robbie was the former owner and main catalyst for the stadium being built. The media had a field day with it. To this day, and after several name changes, the stadium is known as the stadium “formerly known as Joe Robbie Stadium.”

Jerry Gelsomino
10 years 8 months ago

There are few retailers as Best Buy that have the kind of reach with the customers to do naming rights. Plus considering the markets they serve, the naming of a theater seems pretty appropriate. I think it’s very appropriate.

Gene Detroyer
10 years 8 months ago

This discussion is appropriately listed under “Brand Image.”

Naming rights are most often overdone and sometimes downright silly, precisely because the connection with brand image is lacking. It most cases, purchasing naming rights seems more ego than marketing.

In the case of the BestBuy Theater this is perfect. BestBuy is all about entertainment. It becomes a showcase not just for Nokia phones, but for everyone’s phones, everyone’s TV, etc… It sends a message that BestBuy’s focus is the same as their customer.

The local connections also work. It makes the companies that want to be part of the community, part of the community, i.e. Heinz Field and Target Field.

On the other hand, do we really want to see our bank spending millions to name PNC Field or CitiPark? I think not.

Craig Sundstrom
10 years 8 months ago

Like most of the respondents here, I’m generally cool to naming rights (that so many facilities bear the name of hometown corporations says more about CEOs spreading their feathers than it does about the inherent soundness of these ideas); but in this case–where there is some connection between the facility’s product/equipment and the sponsor–I can at least give a quiet approval; my only concern is a potential conflict between marketing and operations: will the former group insist the latter use products sold in the stores, even if they’re not the best choice?

M. Jericho Banks PhD
M. Jericho Banks PhD
10 years 8 months ago

I’ve never thought that naming rights paid off in any way. Didn’t do much for Nascar’s Winston Cup, now named the Sprint Cup. The two major problems with naming rights are: 1. they change, which confuses consumers; and 2., they go to the highest bidder. Can you picture Enzyte Stadium?

That’s why Yankee Stadium will always be Yankee Stadium, and Madison Square Garden will always retain its name.

Kai Clarke
10 years 8 months ago

This is all about promotion, marketing and advertising of the Best Buy brand. Naming rights are only one of many ways to do this. Their efficiency at delivering increased Top-of-Mind awareness, is very questionable and the costs to do this–especially during these cost sensitive days–is very difficult. The bad press from undertaking a new naming convention is in itself an issue. Best Buy is better off focusing its monies on increased community actions or awareness, rather than this naming convention, IMHO.


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