SBD/Issue 89/Sponsorships, Advertising & MarketingPrint All
By Brad Pinkerton, Staff Writer
AFL To Kick Off 20th
Season This Weekend
AFL Turning To Celebrity Owners
Like Ditka To Market League
STAR POWER: Unlike the NFL, the AFL doesn’t have the luxury of marketing well-known players to attract fans. Instead, the league is relying on the high-powered celebrity of its owners, as evidenced by the cast in the commercials. Haney said, “They bring their Q-ratings with them, they bring credibility to the presentation and they bring a high degree of entertainment to the advertising message.” Haney added, “When we get to the point that our players are getting endorsement contracts and become more household names, certainly we want to move away from just the celebrity ownership of it and move to the players.” Belinfante acknowledged, “The celebrities are in many cases the owners.” He added the celebrity owners in the spots “instantaneously get them noticed and the message of the AFL follows. It’s terrific they allow themselves to be used.”
SIN CITY: Holding a league championship game in the gambling capital of the world may raise some eyebrows, but Haney said the ads focus more on poker and the atmosphere of Las Vegas, not gambling. Haney: “Poker is simply the stage. The poker table is kind of the natural stage for it to take place. It’s more of an Arena Football/Las Vegas theme than anything else.” More Haney: “We were very careful to make sure that they were all in fun; there’s never dollars mentioned.” No AFL players or coaches are involved in the spots, so Haney is “not really concerned about connecting Arena Football to gambling.”
Bon Jovi (l) And Elway Make
Appearance On NBC's "Today" Show
MORE AFL: This continues THE DAILY’s week-long look at the AFL. Tomorrow, look for an examination of the marketing efforts by new franchises in Utah and K.C. Also, visit SportsBusinessDaily.com to see our Q&A with Avengers Owner Casey Wasserman, an AFL Spons-o-Meter and a Turnkey Sports Poll about the league. In addition, see this week’s issue of SportsBusiness Journal for an in-depth on the AFL.
Nuggets F Carmelo Anthony is profiled by ESPN THE MAGAZINE’s Tom Farrey, who notes Anthony’s appearance in “Stop Snitching,” an underground DVD released in ’04 that “discourages cooperation with the police, specifically by drug dealers.” Anthony appears in “a few scenes, mostly in the background ... and never advocates drug dealing or use, much less violence.” However, his appearance at all “was damning enough.” His agent “left messages pleading with [Anthony] for help in controlling the damage,” and “potential endorsement deals were yanked.” But during that time his signature Jordan Brand shoe and No. 15 Nuggets jersey “hit No. 1 in sales among active players.” Anthony said, “I probably lost a couple endorsement deals with Fortune 500 companies, but I actually gained fans.” Rodney Bethea, who produced “Stop Snitching,” said, “The DVD gave ‘Melo street cred on a national level. People in other hoods saw it and said, ‘He understands. He’s like us’” (ESPN THE MAGAZINE, 1/30 issue). Bethea said that he is not going to use footage of Anthony in “Stop Snitching II,” set to be released this month, because he “doesn’t want to cause [Anthony] any more trouble” (ESPN.com, 1/18).
DOING GOOD WORK: Farrey reports Anthony recently filmed a guest appearance on Nickelodeon’s “Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide” and has signed a letter of intent to participate in a joint effort with Spider-Man creator Stan Lee. Anthony has also written a children’s book titled “It’s Just the Beginning,” pledged $100,000 for Hurricane Katrina victims, raised money for Denver-area family services, donated meals in Baltimore, his hometown, and bought a van for a wheelchair-bound teenager. He also has financed “Prison Ball,” a documentary he narrates that “profiles some imprisoned ballers and explores the forces that drive dysfunction in urban neighborhoods.” The movie also “questions the wisdom of giving hard time to two-bit [drug] dealers.” He hopes to premiere the film during NBA All-Star weekend. Anthony said, “I’ve touched a lot of people. But all anyone sees is headlines: ‘Melo is a gangster, ‘Melo is a thug. No, ‘Melo is a good person. I got a mission” (ESPN THE MAGAZINE, 1/30). Anthony has said he “wants to be a leading voice of urban America.” Univ. of Southern California professor Todd Boyd said that that makes him think of Michael Jordan, “who went a different direction and became a voice of corporate America.” Boyd: “If ‘Melo’s successful on court, if his team is successful, people will embrace him. The street will embrace him. Madison Avenue will embrace him. The suburbs embrace him. It all really depends on how ‘Melo plays” (ESPN.com, 1/18).
QUALITY CONTROL: Anthony said that for his “B More” Nike ad, which was shot in Baltimore and “follows him as he walks late at night along a stretch of abandoned rowhouses,” Nike “originally proposed a concept that had him buying cars and playing video games.” He rejected the first version, “feeling it was too much bling, too little substance,” and wanted to “keep it real.” Anthony: “I worked for two days on the script. It was hard boiling my life down to 30 seconds” (ESPN THE MAGAZINE, 1/30 issue).
Super Bowl Helps Steelers Become
Top Merchandise Seller In NFL
WHO’S GOING TO DISNEY WORLD? In Pittsburgh, Ed Bouchette reports Bettis, Ward, Roethlisberger and Steelers LB Joey Porter will join four Seahawks players in a Disney TV spot “spoofing the traditional post-Super Bowl” ad. The ad will be shown during ABC’s Super Bowl pregame show (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 1/26).
BUS SCHEDULE: In a separate piece, Bouchette notes Bettis’ busy schedule leading up to the Super Bowl, which is in his home town of Detroit. Yesterday Bettis filmed the Disney spot, and this morning he was scheduled to appear on ESPN Radio’s “Mike & Mike in the Morning.” He is also featured in Time’s “Ten Questions” feature in an upcoming issue, and he and his mother, Gladys, will film a Campbell’s Soup ad with Eagles QB Donovan McNabb and his mother next week in Detroit. Also, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick wants to “designate the days leading up to the Super Bowl as Jerome Bettis Week.” Additionally, ESPN flew Bettis’ parents from the AFC Championship game in Denver to N.Y. to appear Monday morning on ESPN2’s “Cold Pizza” (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 1/26).
Super Bowl Could Be Breakout
Opportunity For Seahawks’ Alexander
See SportsBusiness Daily's up-to-date list of Super Bowl advertisers.
Portis Jersey Sales Up
124% During Season
Kevin Smith, a spokesperson for General Motors’ Cadillac division, and Ford spokesperson Marcey Evans said that their companies “haven’t pared back any of their Super Bowl activities in light of” their recent losses and layoffs. Evans: “We just think that it’s extremely important to continue to show our support for the city of Detroit and help the city show the best it has to offer to the world.” Smith: “We don’t see our current financial situation as a reason to not utilize this world stage that we paid to play on” (AP, 1/26).
PONY UP: U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Lehman has chosen Polo to outfit the team this fall (GOLFWEEK, 1/28 issue).
Gordon Looking To Increase
SON RISE: In Charlotte, David Poole reports Matt Martin, the 14-year-old son of NASCAR driver Mark Martin, will be sponsored by Coca-Cola for his ’06 entries in the American Speed Association late model Southern series and the FASCAR pro truck and sportsman series (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 1/26).