International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) has ended its information-technology sponsorship of the National Football League because of differing views over how the partnership should be handled.
“We determined that our respective views on how the NFL should manage the IT sponsorship were too different and we decided not to renew our agreement,” said Chris Andrews, a spokesman for IBM. “All discussions were amicable and we remain on very positive terms with the NFL, and there is no reason why we wouldn’t consider advertising on NFL games in the future.”
IBM, which employs some 10,000 people across North Carolina, had served as the NFL’s technology sponsor since 2003, a deal that included consulting and data-center management. The decision to end the arrangement, which expired in March, followed months of negotiations, Andrews said. The NFL move doesn’t affect IBM’s other sponsorships, he said, without elaborating.
The company also is one of three sponsors of the Masters tournament held at Augusta National Golf Club, the subject of criticism over its male-only membership policy. In January, Ginni Rometty became the first female chief executive officer at IBM, which has declined to comment on future Masters’ sponsorship plans. The past four IBM CEOs have been invited to be Augusta National members, and the current CEOs of other Masters sponsors, Exxon Mobil Corp. and AT&T Inc., are members.
IBM’s NFL sponsorship decision was reported earlier by the Sports Business Journal.
Motorola Mobility, the mobile-phone maker that’s now part of Google Inc., also ended its sponsorship deal with the NFL this year, following more than a decade. The company’s brand had appeared on the headsets worn by coaches on the sidelines.
“After careful thought and consideration, Motorola Mobility determined that it is in the company’s best interest not to renew our sponsorship,” Juli Burda, a spokeswoman for the company, said in an e-mail.
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