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Foxwoods marketers shift branding targets

By Brian Hallenbeck

Publication: The Day

Published December 13. 2012 4:00AM

Mashantucket - Foxwoods Resort Casino will not extend its "branding" agreements with a theater in the heart of Manhattan's Times Square or the WNBA team whose uniforms bore its name the last three seasons.

The casino's deal with owners of the Foxwoods Theatre, home to "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark," extends through the end of May, "and we have let them know we are not going to renew it," Rebecca Carr, Foxwoods' chief marketing officer, said in an interview this week.

Carr said Foxwoods has "shifted some assets" as it seeks to maximize the return on its marketing investments.

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, which owns Foxwoods, announced in August 2010 that it had reached a three-year agreement to add its brand to the former Hilton Theatre at 213 W. 42nd St., where "Spider-Man," the most expensive production in Broadway history, was scheduled to open. Problems that pushed the rock musical's debut back to June 2011 drew ample publicity.

"We certainly have enjoyed a great relationship with the theater," Carr said. "It's been exciting to be associated with a show that's had so much press coverage."

Live Nation, the theater's owner, is seeking a buyer for the property, Playbill.com reported last week.

Carr confirmed that Foxwoods will not extend its three-year sponsorship of the New York Liberty women's basketball team, a deal announced shortly after the start of the WNBA's 2010 season. Since then, the Foxwoods name and logo has been displayed across the front of the team's jerseys and throughout the team's home arena, Madison Square Garden.

"We're moving from the Liberty to something more than just a logo on a shirt," said Carr, who noted that Foxwoods has broadened its relationship with Madison Square Garden and also signed on with the Barclays Center, the new arena that's home to the NBA's Brooklyn Nets.

In early November, Foxwoods and Madison Square Garden unveiled the Madison Club, a members-only suite whose 174 seats can be purchased by individuals and businesses. As part of the deal, Foxwoods' brand appears on the Garden's digital TV system, and a concierge is available to help club members book casino visits.

Previously, Foxwoods secured exclusive advertising rights to the last five minutes of NBA and NHL games played at the Garden and broadcast by Garden-owned cable networks.

At the Barclays Center, Foxwoods has a branded bar and advertises on the venue's state-of-the-art digital signage, Carr said.

Foxwoods' sponsorship of Boston's House of Blues, another deal struck in 2010, is expiring and will not be renewed, while the casino maintains marketing relationships with the Boston Red Sox and the New England Patriots.

"We've got the male sports enthusiasts covered," Carr said, adding that the casino's investment in the New York and Boston markets is "very even."

Closer to home, Foxwoods' naming rights to Mystic Aquarium's 1,200-seat Marine Theater remain in force.

b.hallenbeck@theday.com

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