The Village of Rosemont announced last week it entered an agreement for the Rosemont Theatre to be renamed the Akoo Theatre at Rosemont with Akoo International, the Sun-Times reported.
The agreement requires Akoo to pay the village $300,000 per year for five years, or $1.5 million.
In a similar agreement made in 1999 Allstate Insurance purchased the naming rights for Rosemont Horizon to become the Allstate Arena. Some Chicagoans still call it by its old name, and when the south-siders play at home, it’s at the new Comiskey, which has officially been U.S. Cellular Field since 2003.
The new theater name has left some wondering, what is “Akoo” anyway? One online commenter wrote, “What’s going in next door, the gesundheit building?” Another responded, “God bless you.”
Akoo was derived from the Greek word acou, which means hearing or listening, said Andy Stankiewicz, chief communications officer for the Rosemont-based media technology company.
Stankiewicz said the company name was chosen for several reasons. First, being in the entertainment industry, acou, or acoustic, has meaning. Second, the founder and CEO, Niko Drakoulis, was Greek. And third, listening to clients is part of the company’s business philosophy.
Akoo International owns AkooTV, the largest out-of-home television network in the country, Stankiewicz said. They currently reach about 64 million viewers a month on their location-specific networks at shopping malls and university campuses, he said.
Akoo’s technology allows viewers to engage with content via text messages or through an app on mobile devices, he said. Advertisers can reach consumers with location-based promotions, such as a coupon for a coffee drink at a nearby business.
He said Akoo was growing as a result of focusing on mobile devices years ago. He said on average, someone completed a transaction every four seconds on one of the company’s 166 networks in shopping malls.
“It’s the major platform to reach consumers,” Stankiewicz said.
Stankiewicz said the naming agreement would benefit Akoo in a number of ways, including increasing brand awareness locally and nationally. The deal included new and greater production opportunities for the media company, both at the theater and in Akoo’s recording studio.
Since moving from Elmwood Park to Rosemont last year, Akoo has begun production at its in-house recording studio. The Plain White T’s have recorded there, as has American Idol finalist James Durbin. The band O.A.R. recorded there last week, Stankiewicz added.
Also part of the naming rights deal, Akoo will establish a V.I.P. lounge at the theater to be used for entertaining clients and other kinds of promotions, Stankiewicz said. The details of where the lounge will be located are still being finalized, he said.
Stankiewicz said he was unaware of any similar naming rights agreement between a television network and theater, and the unique situation would allow them to try new things. He said the partnership would also be good for the village and theater because Akoo would produce content locally, and broadcast it across its national network, which would promote the village and theater at the same time.
Currently Akoo has networks at eight to 10 shopping malls in Illinois, including at Chicago Premium Outlets in Aurora and at the Shops at North Bridge on Michigan Avenue. He said Akoo is available at about 26 major universities in student unions and eating areas, and he expects that to grow rapidly in the next two to three years.
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