Sports marketing – from sponsorship evaluation, procurement and activation, to athlete spokespersons and endorsements, event management, promotions, licensing and merchandising – is a cornerstone of RockandSock’em specialty practices.   Hence the “Sock’em” half of our name, and mission – to sock your competition!

The following is a sneak peek at just a few of the sports marketing client projects and launches we’ve managed and executed.

Xband sports:  3x threat speed and mechanics video system launch

Rock’em and The Brand Amp recently teamed up for their first joint collaboration on new client XBand Sports, helping launch the new 3XThreat – the first-ever speed and mechanics video system that helps baseball and softball players train smarter and improve faster.

The new 3XThreat video unit, sports app and performance center was designed to help ‘bucket dads,’ coaches and players evaluate pitching, hitting & base-running skills, then correct mechanics accordingly. It’s the ultimate training edge to help players reach the next level in the increasingly competitive baseball and softball worlds.

“It’s a ‘triple threat’ on and off the field,” said Jose Doval, XBand Sports CEO. “On the field, 3XThreat is the first-ever 3-in-1 training system focused on improving a player’s mechanics and ‘Big 3’ skills: Pitching, hitting and base-running. Off the field, it’s the first hands-free speed and mechanics video unit, sports app and online web analytics system for evaluating player skills, monitoring progress and correcting mechanics.”

Rock'em secured 2001 Major League Baseball first round draft choice and 2004 American League Rookie of the Year Bobby Crosby as XBand's national media spokesperson, and installed the new 3X Threat system at the Bobby Crosby Baseball Academy -- an elite training facility for baseball and softball players of all levels, youth through pro.



  • Re-launch the AVP and AVP Tour after new ownership acquisition and multi-season hiatus
  • Build player and fan support of new AVP and AVP tour events
  • Heighten awareness of beach volleyball, new AVP tour events, drive attendance and restore AVP’s brand dominance and media profile

Strategies, Tactics and Activation

  • Drafted, executed brand re-launch plan, strategically timed to capitalize on the tremendous beach volleyball profile and success of the 2012 Olympics in London and coverage on NBC.
  • Created key messaging, Q&A’s, led AVP executive media training session, drafted 2013 AVP PR Plan and 2013 Crisis Management Plan. 
  • Secured national and key market media interviews, developed AVP media databases, drafted all AVP and event news releases and managed on-site media relations for the 2012 AVP Cincinnati Open and 2012 AVP Championships in Santa Monica
  • Developed and negotiated strategic partnership with the Surfrider Foundation to underscore AVP’s support of the beach and environmental cause
  • Drafted AVP Apparel RFP and facilitated partner prospect submission process
  • Drafted select content and PR support plan for new website launch
  • Provided strategic counsel on governing body, player and TV network agreements
  • Helped facilitate partner World Media Strategies’ AVP player interviews and production of and AVP-branded network TV content video vignettes


  • The world’s top beach volleyball players signed on and exclusively participated in all AVP events
  • Terrific national and local market media coverage attracted SRO fan crowds at AVP events 
  • 2012 AVP and Tour re-launch success set the table for a 7-event 2013 AVP Tour season




  • Further establish Varsity as THE U.S. and global brand in cheerleading
  • Help position Varsity for diversification into other sports, apparel and event business
  • Secure additional sponsors and bottom-line revenue streams for Varsity
  • Drive purchase intent and brand relevance among highly targeted teen influencer
  • Create and “bundle” scale programming for CoverGirl, Secret, and Herbal Essences
  • Build Abreva relationship and educate on cold sore product benefits with Varsity teen influencers and moms during high stress situations (national competitions)

Strategies, Tactics & Activation

  • Led Grey Alliance account team that developed and activated: 1) customized, holistic partnerships for each P&G brand with leading U.S. cheerleading organization,Varsity Spirit (10M+ teen influencers; 2) P&G “Beauty Lounge” featuring multi-brand product lines, hairdressers and make-up consultants/applicators at 7 Varsity national competitions
  • Created annual PR and Marketing Plan for Varsity
  • Led Grey Alliance account team that secured and activated GSK Abreva brand sponsorship of Varsity 
  • Drafted annual PR and sports marketing plans, and managed advance publicity and on-site media relations activities at Varsity events


  • 100M+ high quality impressions via fun interactive brand experiences that drove trial by sampling 20 million products; Surveyed over 10 million teen girls; Led to multi-year P&G brand program renewals  
  • Varsity received P&G and GSK sponsor revenue, while brands received access to, product trial and increased sales among Varsity teen influencers via direct event exposure, sampling, couponing, social media connections, PR, etc.
  • Success led to Varsity business and GSK as new client accounts. 
  • Past relationship success led to current RockandSock’em – Varsity new business developing Varsity and parent co. Herff Jones diversification plans into other sports, strategic acquisitions and new sport apparel division creation/support



  • Engage, motivate and incentivize Allstate agents and customers
  • Increase new home and auto insurance customers 
  • Create national, newsworthy platform to leverage Allstate’s 2002, 2004 and 2006 USOC-Olympic sponsorships

Strategies, Tactics & Activation

  • Leveraged global AOR client relationships with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and National Hockey League (NHL) on behalf of client Allstate
  • Worked with Allstate mktg., PR, Leo Burnett and IMG to create, manage and publicize:
    • Allstate “Miracle on Ice” 1980 USA Gold Medal hockey team Reunion Game (20 team members reunited for the first time in 22 years!), held at client NHL All-Star Game Fan-Fest to drive fan attendance
    • Endorsement and appearance deals w/“Miracle On Ice” USA Hockey Team coach Herb Brooks, captain Mike Eruzione, goaltender Jim Craig as media spokesmen.
    • Allstate Youth Hockey Clinics, provided free to children of Allstate agents, customers and prospective customers in Chicago, New York, D.C. and Philly   
  • Executed, publicized Miracle on Ice team vs. NHL All-Star team exhibition game during NHL FanFest
    • All NHL All-Star credentialed media covered the Reunion game, along with CNN, ESPN, Tonight Show w/Jay Leno,
  • Secured NY Stock Exchange Opening Bell with “Miracle On Ice Team", media coverage
  • Working with IOC client, secured for Allstate the “Miracle on Ice Team” Olympic Torch lighting in ultimate ‘good hands’ moment and photo opp
  • Created, publicized the Allstate “Good Hands” Award at Winter Games


  • Tremendous Allstate agent participation and satisfaction ensured double digit new customer signups and relationship building with current customers
  • 100 million+ national media impressions positioned Allstate as highest-profile USOC Olympic sponsor
  • Success led to additional Allstate sports marketing sponsorship business with Allstate Bowl Championship Series, USA Basketball and US Olympic Hall of Fame

NFL Super Bowl Halftime Show Sponsorships: Frito-Lay, Pepsi, Oscar-Mayer, E*Trade

RockandSock’em’s John Eckel has planned, managed and led account teams that activated 8 Super Bowl Halftime Show title sponsorships on behalf of corporate clients, including performances by Michael Jackson, The Judds, Aerosmith and Disney. Activation elements included:

  • Worked with the sponsors marketing and PR teams, NFL Marketing & PR teams, performing artist managers and PR liaisons to plan and execute on-site media conferences with 2,000 NFL credentialed media
  • Draft and pitch all media kit materials
  • Coordinate on-site sponsor exec. and star performer interviews
  • Pitch and conduct live satellite news conferences and media tours
  • Pitching sponsor :30 TV spots to media in advance of the air dates, and distributing them on-site to all TV media
  • Coordinating retailer/dealer/key customer POS content activation and sweepstakes winner appearances at the Game
  • Note: Also managed publicity, media relations and crisis management efforts for two Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, and 8 Rose Bowl and Tournament of Roses Parade activations.

Little Known Historical Marketing Fact: Considered the quintessential event property whereby the line officially blurs between sports and entertainment – and the ultimate expression of Rock and Sock’em!), the Super Bowl Halftime Show achieved heightened status and upgraded, A-List musical entertainer performances, after 1992 . . . the year in which client Frito-Lay successfully counterprogrammed the Super Bowl with The Tostitos “In Living Color” Zap-Time Show, featuring an historic, 30-minute episode of the hit Fox Network TV show televised live during what was then a fairly boring NFL halftime show experience.  

RockandSock’em’s John Eckel pitched and personally escorted In Living Color stars Keenan Ivory Wayans, Jim Carey and Jennifer Lopez (a “Fly Girl” on the show) to on-site Super Bowl media interviews, and worked with Frito-Lay Marketing and PR executives and its ad agency to plan and execute the promotion, during which 30 million of the 100+ million Super Bowl viewers “zapped” their TV channels to watch the live show, which ended just prior to second half Super Bowl kickoff.    

After more than 250 million media impressions were generated that encouraged 30 million viewers to switch TV channels (and miss the high-cost TV ads critical to NFL advertisers and the TV network), Super Bowl advertisers and the network were outraged, and pressured the NFL to take steps to ensure the Super Bowl Halftime Show would never again be successfully counter-programmed.   Thus, the following year, Michael Jackson was retained by the to perform live, to ensure no one would again switch stations!   

Now, we could tell you what Frito-Lay had planned to counter-program the King of Pop that year before the NFL agreed to partner with them for an official sponsorship of the “Frito-Lay Super Bowl Halftime Show featuring Michael Jackson,” …. But we’d have to kill you, or violate an NDA.   Better idea:  Just hire us to Rock and Sock your competition and customers.  


While serving as founder and head of Hill and Knowlton’s sports marketing practice, RockandSock’em’s John Eckel led Hill and Knowlton’s U.S. account team media relations efforts to in support of Athens’s successful bid to secure and host the 2004 Summer Olympic Games.