Mercedes USA CEO: In new media world, Falcons stadium deal ‘makes sense’

The famous three-pointed star adorns this rendering of the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which will be the $1.4 billion home of the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United. Source: Atlanta Falcons

The famous three-pointed star adorns this rendering of the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which will be the $1.4 billion home of the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United. Source: Atlanta Falcons

What’s in a name?

In an emerging media landscape fractured by cord-cutters, iPhones, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it news start-ups and social media, a name you can’t miss means everything.

On Monday, the Atlanta Falcons officially announced the new name of the $1.4 billion downtown dome: Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

For the Falcons, the team hopes for a halo effect from the coveted auto brand along with the bags of cash that will help the franchise pay for its share of the new dome.

For Mercedes-Benz, it’s about branding, too, and reaching customers in metro Atlanta, their new U.S. hub. But Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Steve Cannon said it’s also about reaching customers across the globe.

The media landscape has become so fragmented, Cannon said, it’s difficult to break out a corporate message from the crowd. Or in Cannon’s words: “To have an anchor component of your marketing plan that doesn’t compete with anyone else.”

AUGUST 24, 2015 ATLANTA Stephen Cannon gives remarks during the press conference. Atlanta Falcons team owner Arthur Blank and Stephen Cannon, president and CEO of MBUSA, hold a press conference announcing a deal for the naming rights for the New Falcons Stadium, Monday, August 24, 2015. The press conference was also attended by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. The agreement, which continues through 2042, includes official naming rights and other partnership benefits. The Mercedes-Benz brand will be prominent inside and outside the building, including on the roof; in plaza areas; on directional, on-field and tunnel signage; in club areas; in VIP parking and entrance areas; on the first-of-its-kind video halo board; and in additional areas. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. KENT D. JOHNSON /KDJOHNSON@AJC.COM

AUGUST 24, 2015 ATLANTA Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Stephen Cannon gives remarks during the press conference announcing the name of the new Atlanta Falcons stadium, Monday, August 24, 2015. The agreement, which continues through 2042, includes official naming rights and other partnership benefits. The Mercedes-Benz brand will be prominent inside and outside the building, including on the roof; in plaza areas; on directional, on-field and tunnel signage; in club areas; in VIP parking and entrance areas; on the first-of-its-kind video halo board; and in additional areas. KENT D. JOHNSON /KDJOHNSON@AJC.COM

“In the media world we’re living in deals like this make sense,” Cannon said in an interview after the deal’s formal announcement.

The value of the 27-year deal was not announced, but Cannon said it is the most expensive marketing deal of its type in the storied automaker’s history.

Being the name of an NFL and Major League Soccer stadium that will also play host to concerts, college bowl games, and potentially NCAA Final Fours and future Super Bowls, is one way to grab attention.

Performances and games will attract tens of thousands of spectators. Games and special events could capture millions more on TV or streaming online.

The Mercedes-Benz name will be attached to signs, and mentioned in news articles, advertisements, traffic reports and so much more. The potential number of impressions on the public – just like for SunTrust Banks and the new Atlanta Braves stadium – is astronomical.

Mercedes-Benz can buy ads (and undoubtedly still will) during sporting events, but the company must compete with other brands among dozens of 30-second ads that run over the course of a game, Cannon said.

“This is an iconic venue that is an exclusive Mercedes-Benz brand-scape,” Cannon said.

This artist's rendering shows how the Mercedes-Benz logo will look atop the roof of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the new stadium being built downtown for the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United FC soccer team. Credit: Mercedes-Benz

This artist’s rendering shows how the Mercedes-Benz logo will look atop the roof of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the new stadium being built downtown for the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United FC soccer team. Credit: Mercedes-Benz

The Mercedes name already graces the Superdome in New Orleans – home of the rival Saints – and on an arena in Shanghai, one of the largest cities in China, the world’s second-biggest economy.

Talks between the Falcons and Mercedes started shortly after the German automaker announced the move of its U.S. division from New Jersey to metro Atlanta in January.

But there were no plans then to put the company’s three-pointed star logo atop the new Falcons stadium. Nothing like that was on their radar.

Cannon said he challenged his staff to find opportunities to put his company’s name in front of the world.

“I sent them out fishing,” Cannon said, “and they came back with a whale.”

Still, with the New Orleans stadium just a few states away and in the NFC South, it’s creates an odd situation.

“When we made (the Saints) deal, we had no idea we were going to move to Atlanta, had no idea all of this was in our future,” Cannon said. “We will deal with that when the time comes.

“Obviously, having two stadiums in the same division — you wouldn’t plan it that way. But sometimes opportunities come in a way that is just too good to turn down.”

Though it might have been too good to turn down, the scope of the undertaking – and undoubtedly the cost – was huge.

AUGUST 24, 2015 ATLANTA Gov. Nathan Deal, Falcons owner Arthur Blank, Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Stephen Cannon and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed pose for photos with a model of the new stadium, Monday, August 24, 2015. KENT D. JOHNSON /KDJOHNSON@AJC.COM

AUGUST 24, 2015 ATLANTA Gov. Nathan Deal, Falcons owner Arthur Blank, Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Stephen Cannon and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed pose for photos with a model of the new stadium, Monday, August 24, 2015. KENT D. JOHNSON /KDJOHNSON@AJC.COM

“They made me a little uncomfortable,” Cannon said of his executive team, “but I’ve challenged them to make me a little uncomfortable.”

The new naming rights deal is only one of several big undertakings for the company.

The Mercedes USA office is currently based in an office park in Dunwoody. A new $93 million headquarters campus is planned for Sandy Springs near the Ga. 400 and Abernathy Road interchange.

When Mercedes announced U.S. HQ move earlier this year, Cannon said the company would become an active corporate citizen in its new home. Mercedes-Benz, he said, would make itself part of the fabric of Atlanta-area business.

He wasn’t kidding.

Reader Comments 0

22 comments
Charles Douglas Edwards
Charles Douglas Edwards

M E R C E D E S  -  B  E N Z  made a GREAT move in acquiring the naming rights to the Atlanta Falcons gorgeous and magnificent new dome stadium ! ! !


The Biggest and BEST sports and entertainment events will soon becoming to this new sports palace.


Mercedes - Benz Stadium, Atlanta and Georgia will be the go to place for TOP NOTCH events in the United States of America.


The Atlanta Falcons recently played a regular season National Football League  (NFL) game in London, England.


We believe that the TOP Soccer Leagues in England, France, Italy, Spain, Latin America and other Pro Leagues should reciprocate by playing Soccer matches in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. $$$   $$$   $$$   $$$.


We hope and pray that Mercedes-Benz sales SKYROCKET based on their investment in Atlanta, New Orleans and Tuscaloosa.


THANKS, THANKS, THANKS  M e r c e d e s - B e n z.

May Jones
May Jones

If this is a world-class stadium, then the name should stand alone as a world class stadium.  This is nothing more then the "Second Mercedes-Benz Stadium".

CobbManAssRapedbyBraves
CobbManAssRapedbyBraves


At least these stories about Jared Fogle didn't come out  AFTER the Falcons named their new sports venue Jared Foundation Stadium....



My Cobb tax dollars may be going to waste on a tacky ballpark named after a bank, but at least they aren't going to that greedy Arthur Blank.




Beverly Hall
Beverly Hall

 Would have been nice to see an established hometown company such as Coca- cola or Delta Airlines STEP UP FOR SPONSORSHIP.    What about the SPANX  STADIUM ?    LORD HAVE MERCY ! 

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

@Beverly Hall Welcome to Mercedes Benz Stadium

You may proceed to the Coca-Cola food court before heading up the Home Depot stairs and sit in your Spanx seats. 


GaLatino
GaLatino

@Beverly Hall The fact that neither of them did tells me they apparently don't value us as much as we value them.  You can add Home Depot to that list as well.

May Jones
May Jones

Sharing stadium names with our team's biggest rival is an insult to the city of Atlanta and the Falcons fans.  Great Job Arthur! 

scorpian527
scorpian527

Really May, that's what you got out of the stadium name?..please Can anyone in Atlanta have a vision outside of the immediate surroundings you live in?

In 5 years the Duper dome will be looking for someone to put a name on that h***hole of a dome. The USA headquarters of one of the top Luxury car brands is ATLANTA, why not have a BILLION DOLLAR Stadium with your name on it in the same city??

scorpian527
scorpian527

@GaLatino @scorpian527 @BLowE12 first of all, i have been a season ticket holder for 9 years, how about you two, so yes I know the rivalry of the Aints and the Falcons, And I stand behind what i said, this is not just about the Falcons Stadium, this is about a soccer stadium, a Stadium for world championships, IE NCAA Final Four, NCAA CFB, World Cup..and yes i am quoting Arthur Blank..so again i say there is a big world outside of AINTS FAlcons Rivalry at stake here Folks..This is a WORLD CLASS Stadium..And I already have my 4 seats overlooking the Skyline of The ATL in our new MERCEDES-BENZ STADIUM, do you?  And in 5 years, like I said, THE DUPER DOME owner will be begging for some sucker to bail him out, if not, there may not be a New Orleans Aints team....thaNk you and have a wonderful day..Hope to ya'll first day in the brand new MERCEDES-BENZ STADIUM

Dman
Dman

@ Scorpion527 why in the world did you purchase the over priced PSL's in the new stadium? I and a whole lot of other long time season ticket holders didn't because of the ridiculous price. You must be an extremely rich guy. Good for you but bad for the majority of true Falcon Fans. At least your 4 seats will have red on in the new stadium. The other seats around you will most likely be wearing the colors of the visiting team because those are going to be mostly corporate seats in the new stadium. Yuck...

BLowE12
BLowE12

@scorpian527 Just because you are a season ticket holder doesn't mean you get it. Oh and by the way.. i am a ticket holder as well and before that been a fan of the Falcons going back to 1977. How long have you? And where are you from while I am at it?


And you can stand by your point of view, that is not a problem, as you are entitled to your opinion. Everything you say makes great "financial sense" as well. However, a large margin of fans that have been around pretty much from the conception of this feud will NEVER feel as you do. Some of us have passion.

GaLatino
GaLatino

@scorpian527 if you don't get why this bothers a true ATLANTA fan, then you clearly don't understand the rivalry OR the basic classlessness of the N.O. fans that live here.

scorpian527
scorpian527

@BLowE12 @scorpian527 @dman been a fan I guess since 1970 when i was  five  so I got you there, b/c my grandfather and father took me to my first Falcons game ..so blew that out of the water, 9 years ago, finally able to get my own, family been having season tickets since then, But you right, i have no passion.  Please. And just because i choose to spend my entertainment money on those "over priced" PSL's is my choice.  Get with the new age people, stadiums are going to be built with PSL money, way of the world. Just wait until the Hawks need to build theirs, I guess you not going to the Hawks games either uh? So you say I have no passion, i show my  passion by purchasing those "over priced" PSL's how would you?  sit at home and complain b/c you just refuse to get with the new age of sports business? I AM FROM Rome Ga, so yes I am have passion for all the ATL teams, HOME TEAM BABY!! well not so much Braves,  to hot in the summer,and its   baseball ..LOL,  but still root for the HOME TEAM, .  and have much passion for all

BLowE12
BLowE12

@scorpian527 Didn't know this was a one up you game. Thought this was a point of view discussion. If you are a long time Falcon as you stated, you are in the Minority on this one!


My point is, do not ask someone about a "Vision" when this is more of an entertainment and passionate venue. I will leave that to the front office as that is their job and My job is to be a fan. IF we were in Business, everything you stated would make absolute sense. Obviously, your experience in being a falcon fan has been more analytical, which is ok, than most. 


Bottomline is I will continue to be opposed to the name the Falcons accepted until the day, if it comes, that MB Drop kicks the Superdump.


And I am right there with you with the PSLs, that if you sat down actually paid attention, are very affordable. Funny enough the majority of folks complaining were not season ticket holders anyway!

scorpian527
scorpian527

@BLowE12 @scorpian527 so true, It appears I am in the minority, but in five years, the DuperDome will have no name, and possibly no team, The Falcons will RISEUP, and will rule the south, from our new Mercedes....

BLowE12
BLowE12

@scorpian527 I SO hope you are right! I am tired of having "those People" sneaking into my section in the dome causing havoc! 


From the first time I saw those clowns at Atl-Fulco I have had a distain for their Mer existence! And I was only five! lol

JuneBaby
JuneBaby

@May Jones nope....from reading between the lines of what he(Cannon) said, i think soon, New Orleans will be having to find a e sponsor for the Super Dome......sorry, but Atlanta bests New Orleans in every way