The Association of U S West Retirees



Playoffs a bust for Invesco's naming rights
By James Paton
Rocky Mountain News
Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Two Denver companies will get a lot of bang for their buck during the widely watched NFL playoff games on Sunday and in the days leading up to the matchups.  Actually, make that one Denver company.

Millions of football fans this weekend will see and hear the names Qwest Field and Invesco Field at Mile High.  Multiple times.

While Qwest clearly will benefit from the television and newspaper exposure, Invesco is another story.

Viewers and listeners tuned to the Broncos and Steelers game couldn't buy an Invesco mutual fund if they wanted to.  The Invesco operation offering an array of stock and bond funds to American consumers no longer exists.  Invesco and its portfolios were folded into sibling firm AIM Investments of Houston, in case you forgot.

Amvescap still has an Invesco brand of products for institutional buyers, but the executives in suits overseeing the assets of pension funds, university endowments and insurance companies are not the kind of people influenced by advertising and mass marketing.

Naming-rights pacts make more sense for companies going after average customers, such as American sports fans watching football games on the tube, experts said.  That's why Invesco liked the idea of naming rights in 2001, when it was a growing retail brand.

"The universe of people you can reach is much larger when your target is retail consumers," said Dean Bonham, the Denver-based naming-rights guru who helped Qwest negotiate its agreement.

Aside from that, the deals tend to work better as part of a broader marketing push.  Qwest, for instance, is advancing along those lines, he said. Invesco, on the other hand, "is doing nothing to take advantage of the marketing opportunities presented by the naming-rights deal," according to Bonham.

Invesco agreed to pay $60 million over 20 years for the naming rights in Denver and has a separate advertising contract with the Broncos, also worth $60 million.  The company has said it is sticking to the plan.

Qwest, the Denver telecommunications company, forged a deal to hand over a reported $4 million to $5 million a year for up to 15 years for the rights to put its corporate label on the Seahawks' stadium in Seattle.

When teams make it to the playoffs, it pays off even more.  The names attached to the stadiums are then seen and heard up to 300 million additional times by consumers, according to the Bonham Group.  If you were to put a price tag on that playoff publicity, it could reach $1 million, the company figured.

Qwest, which reached its deal in 2004, clearly is happy with the arrangement so far.

"I expect to be on Qwest's fruit basket list for years based on the Seahawks' success this year," said Bonham, who also writes a sports- marketing column for the Rocky Mountain News.  "This is extraordinary timing."

As for Amvescap, the company strongly disagrees with the idea that the money is being wasted.  Invesco, which manages $117 billion in assets for institutions in the U.S., is a name worth promoting, the company's Ivy McLemore said.

But Matt Yonan, a Denver-based sponsorship expert, noted that touting AIM Investments would make a whole lot more sense.

"They have an asset, and they're not using it," he said.

Marketing and advertising only works when consumers are exposed to a product that they can buy later on.

James Paton and David Milstead take turns writing Up and Down 17th Street. Contact Paton at or 303-892-2544.

About James Paton
News business reporter James Paton takes turns writing Up and Down 17th Street with David Milstead.