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TOR Pres. Chinen and Miraj Parikh, Northwestern Mutual talk partnership, float

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Football was not the only topic of conversation at Saturday’s Rose Bowl Game Youth Football Clinic at Robinson Park, Pasadena. Tournament of Roses President Rich Chinen and Miraj Parikh, Director of Partnership and Activation Marketing for Northwestern Mutual, talked to Examiner about the new partnership between the Tournament and Northwestern Mutual.

Northwestern Mutual has signed on for six years to be the presenting sponsor of the Rose Bowl Game beginning with the 2015 game, but the company wants to be much more involved in the Tournament and the community, Parikh said. He said the company is “tickled pink” and he was excited to be at the youth clinic, which was the first official event of the partnership.

“This is great, we’re really excited about the possibilities,” Parikh told Examiner. “It’s coming together nicely.” When Northwestern Mutual was looking for a bowl partnership, “it was the Rose Bowl or bust. We were not interested in any other bowl game.”

Besides the Rose Bowl Game sponsorship, Northwestern Mutual is going to enter a float in the Rose Parade, something game sponsors have not normally done, and to have a presence in the community “360,” Parikh said. That partnership is still taking shape. Chinen stated, “There’s lots to get done,” then with a grin, “It’s like planning a wedding.”

The float will tie into the “Inspiring Stories” theme for the 126th Rose Parade, Parikh said, though a design has not yet been drawn up. The company came out in January to talk with the various builders and will finalize their choice soon. “We’ve got to get the right feel for us,” he said. “Being part of the parade is very important to us—it’s not just about the game.”

The company is looking to do events at the Rose Bowl, such as participating in the current brick campaign, which raises funds for the Rose Bowl Stadium by selling memorial bricks to create the Tournament of Roses logo on the entry patio. It also plans on being involved with the Tournament of Roses Foundation, the charitable arm of the Tournament. Parikh said, “It’s still coming together for us. We still have to navigate a few things. At some point, we’re thinking about bands, bringing the bands to town.”

Chinen affirmed that Northwestern Mutual and the Tournament of Roses are both striving to serve their communities. “We are all engaged in community,” he said. “It’s about engaging your members to be involved.”

Northwestern Mutual’s interest in the Rose Bowl is a good match for the company, which also partners with the NCAA, Parikh said. “Collegiate athletics is where our brand fits nicely. The Rose Bowl is right up there…. Northwestern Mutual just doesn’t do this. This is a special partnership for us.

“Much bigger brands have been part of this tradition in the past,” he continued. Vizio was the presenting sponsor for the previous four years and prior to that, AT&T, Sony and Citi. “There’s no machine to know how to do this. It’s new for us.”

The company is based in Milwaukee, Wisc. Its products include life, long-term care and disability insurance, investments, and employee benefit services.