In a state where the Ravens and Washington Redskins play just 32 miles apart by car and have bordering marketing territories, some businesses can find themselves in a puzzling no-man's land — or possibly even offside.
Consider the Dunkin' Donuts store in Lusby, a Calvert County community of fewer than 2,000 residents near the Chesapeake Bay.
Dunkin' Donuts is a Ravens sponsor, and the team lays claim to Lusby as part of a 2004 agreement in which the NFL defined the counties in which Ravens marks and logos may be used in promotions. The Redskins were given exclusive marketing rights in Montgomery and Prince George's counties while the Ravens got the rest of the state, including Calvert County.
The agreement was meant to head off disputes between the clubs with overlapping fan bases.
But on Friday — two days before the Ravens and Redskins meet at M&T Bank Stadium — Dunkin' Donuts said the Lusby store wasn't participating in the "Ravens Win, You Win" or "Purple Friday" deals promoting free coffee and doughnuts. A spokeswoman for the Dunkin' brand said that's because the store, about an hour's drive from the nation's capital, is in what it considers the Washington market.
So why isn't Dunkin' Donuts promoting the Ravens in all of the team's territory?
"I am not sure what map Dunkin' Donuts is looking at," said Dick Cass, president of the Ravens. "It may be a map showing the TV market for Washington and the TV market for Baltimore. They probably do it that way because Dunkin' Donuts runs TV ads in Baltimore about a promotion and those ads are not running on Washington TV stations."
Neither party seemed to consider the matter a big deal. The stores at issue represent a small fraction of the 150 Dunkin' Donuts outlets in the Baltimore area. The chain has just over 200 stores in the Washington market and is not a Redskins sponsor.
"Dunkin' Donuts and the Baltimore Ravens have been partners for many years and we have seen tremendous success and enthusiasm from our Baltimore-area guests and Ravens fans alike," Colleen Krygiel, field marketing manager for Dunkin' Donuts for the Baltimore, Washington and Salisbury regions, said in a statement. "We are thrilled to be the Official Coffee and Breakfast of Baltimore's football team and look forward to continuing our Ravens-inspired offerings for years to come."
Dunkin' Donuts said it indeed relies on "designated market areas" that rating firm Nielsen uses to measure local television viewing.
But the DMA map of the Baltimore-Washington area looks different from the NFL's boundaries. In the DMA, Calvert County is part of the Washington market.
"I had no idea Calvert County is Ravens territory — that's news to me," Krygiel said in an interview. "We've been a partner with the Ravens for years and years and this has never come up."
Charles County and a large part of Frederick County are also part of the Washington market under the media map used by Dunkin' Donuts. Like Calvert, those areas are close enough to Washington to have plenty of Redskins fans but near enough to Baltimore to have Ravens backers as well.
Dunkin' Donuts said it has four stores in Charles County, one in Calvert County and 13 in the portion of Frederick County that it considers part of the D.C. market. According to Krygiel, the stores are operated by local franchisees who pay a percentage of their sales for local advertising and sponsorship.
"In the media world those counties are in D.C.," she said. "We use the media world."
The confusion over the markets illustrates the complicated nature of the relationship between the neighboring teams and their fans.
Redskins spokesman Tony Wylie said Washington is "fortunate to have season tickets members" from Maryland and many other states, but the team did not make an official available to discuss the Ravens-Redskins dynamic.
The teams hardly play enough — just five times before Sunday — to be bitter foes.
"I think it's a really friendly rivalry," said retired Ravens offensive lineman and Hall of Famer Jonathan Ogden. "We appreciate the fact we're in the same area but not in the same division. People care way more about the [Pittsburgh] Steelers here than the Redskins."
The 2004 agreement doesn't prevent the clubs from peddling season tickets through media advertising or by mail in each others' markets. But that's a minor concern since both franchises' tickets are sold out.
Also, Maryland-based NFL fans have allegiances beyond the Ravens and Redskins.
"We have the Redskins in the south and to the north we run into the Philadelphia Eagles," said Brandon Etheridge, the Ravens' general counsel, who was raised in Prince George's and Howard counties. "To the west, you go out to Hagerstown and you find some Steelers fans," he said. "We just have kind of a unique challenge here. Especially in the marketing world, I want to think the pie is big enough for everybody, that we can accommodate all our fans. The key is connecting with your fan base."
When the Ravens and Redskins meet on the field, prime television viewing spots include bars in areas with clearly divided loyalties, such as Annapolis, Columbia, Fulton and Laurel.
Looney's Pub in Fulton has two giant televisions on opposite sides — one for Baltimore fans and one for Washington partisans. A banner reading "House Divided" — with the purple Ravens logo and the burgundy-and-gold Redskins logo — hangs from the ceiling in a neutral middle zone.
The staff is required to wear Ravens or Redskins attire on game days, according to general manager Sherry DeRose. And when the teams meet, "it's usually our biggest Sunday," she said.
At Sonoma's Bar & Grill in Columbia, there "is kind of a split," said manager Pete Rogers. "One fellow who comes in has season tickets to both. The first half he'll wear his Ravens jersey and then he'll go out to the car at halftime and change into a Redskins jersey."
The NFL's marketing boundaries apply to sponsors' promotions using team symbols and cover everything from pizza-topping giveaways to mailed solicitations.
But the lines don't always work. In 2006, John Ziemann, president of the Ravens marching band, received a Redskins season-ticket solicitation at his Harford County home. So did a Ravens executive. The ad was coordinated by a Redskins sponsor.
"I thought, 'They're barking up the wrong tree with this boy,'" Ziemann said at the time.
The Redskins said the flier was sent to the county inadvertently. The team said the sponsor's mailing was supposed to have been sorted to exclude Ravens-area addresses.
"You can have a sponsor where he's got a lot of franchisees and somebody is not aware of the rule," Cass said. "Obviously when you're dealing with big companies and you've got hundreds of stores, word doesn't always get out to everybody the way it should. Mistakes happen."