SBD/Issue 222/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

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  • NFL Inviting Partners To Purchase Sponsored “Vignettes”

    NFL VP/Partnership Marketing & Corporate Sales Peter Murray said that the league is asking its 20 corporate partners to purchase “sponsored ‘vignettes’ that would be interspersed with game action during telecasts this season,” according to Michael McCarthy of USA TODAY. Three companies –- IBM, FedEx and EA Sports — have made agreements, and Murray said that “more are coming.” The NFL ended sponsored messages during game broadcasts after the ’97 season to avoid “over-commercializing games.” Murray said that the league will now “limit them to one 30-second, or two 15-second messages, a game.” He added that the league will charge sponsors “about the same price they’d pay to buy a national 30-second TV spot.” Murray said that the NFL “may cut in its TV partners for a slice through a ‘joint venture’ but will produce all of the content itself through NFL Films.” He said that the clips “will focus on the game and the players, not the products.” Murray: “We want vignettes that provide added perspective on the game — or some historical context” (USA TODAY, 8/15).

    BUSH WHACKED: The NFL fined Saints RB Reggie Bush for wearing his new adidas cleats during Saturday’s preseason game against the Titans. Bush said of the fine, which is believed to be $10,000, “adidas took care of it” (USA TODAY, 8/15). Reebok, Nike and Under Armour are the only brands with NFL supplier deals that allow players to wear their shoes on field without covering the logo (THE DAILY).

    Print | Tags: EA Sports, FedEx, IBM, New Orleans Saints, NFL, Nike, Reebok, Tennessee Titans, Under Armour
  • Shaquille O’Neal Signs Deal With Li-Ning For “Dunkman” Line

    Li-Ning’s Zhang Zhiyong (l) And O’Neal At
    Announcement Of “Dunkman” Shoe Deal

    China-based sporting goods company Li-Ning formally announced a five-year deal with Heat C Shaquille O’Neal to produce and market the “Shaq Dunkman” line of shoes and apparel in China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. Only 320 pairs of the Dunkman shoes will be available when the line is launched in January. Cavaliers G Damon Jones, a friend and former teammate of O’Neal, is also a Li-Ning endorser (Li-Ning). Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but in Miami, John Dorschner reports it is “certain to be worth considerably more” than the reported $200,000-300,000 Jones receives annually. The NBA claims O’Neal is the fourth most popular athlete in China, behind Michael Jordan, Rockets C Yao Ming and Real Madrid MF David Beckham. Li-Ning “hopes to expand into the U.S. market,” but its “main concern in signing Shaq is improving its position selling basketball shoes in the $1[B] Chinese market” (MIAMI HERALD, 8/15). Nike claims annual sales in China of about $600M, and while adidas does not reveal sales information, it said that it is “narrowing the gap with Nike.” Chinese sports-marketing firm Zou Marketing said adidas had sales of $385M in ’05, compared to around $300M for Li-Ning. Li-Ning has launched a Web site called “Shaq News” and will launch a print and outdoor ad campaign tomorrow, and O’Neal will visit Beijing and Chengdu this week to promote the deal. The company will continue using Jones in its domestic marketing, but it “won’t begin heavily marketing outside of China until after” the ’08 Beijing Games (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/15).

    MENDING FENCES: The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Fowler & Fong write the deal could help O’Neal “overcome perceptions of racism, which were initially sparked when [he] allegedly made derogatory comments” about Yao. O’Neal later said he was joking and that he was friends with Yao, but “many Chinese sports fans were rankled nonetheless.” During the announcement of the deal yesterday, O’Neal “drew snickers from the audience when he said, ‘I’m Shaquille O’Neal and I love China’” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/15).

    POPULARITY CONTEST: Last year through November, O’Neal’s No. 32 Heat jersey was the eighth-best selling NBA jersey in China. The following lists the top ten (THE DAILY).

    1) Rockets F Tracy McGrady
    2) 76ers G Allen Iverson
    3) Rockets C Yao Ming
    4) Lakers G Kobe Bryant
    5) Cavaliers F LeBron James
    6) Nuggets F Carmelo Anthony
    7) T’Wolves F Kevin Garnett
    8) Heat C Shaquille O’Neal
    9) Suns G Steve Nash
    10) Heat G Dwyane Wade

    SPIRIT OF ’92: SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL’s John Lombardo reports USA Basketball and Nike “will bring back apparel from the original Dream Team ... as part of its revamped merchandise strategy” leading into the World Championships beginning Saturday and the Beijing Games. NBA Senior VP/Global Merchandising Group Sal LaRocca said, “There will be a primary focus in recreating the first Dream Team from 1992, with every jersey from every player to be on sale with a November launch.” Lombardo notes a marketing deal with the league calls on the NBA to run USA Basketball’s merchandising efforts. USA Basketball and the NBA will split 10-15% of merchandising revenue generated from the World Championships to the ’08 Olympics. The ’04 Athens Games generated just $1M in merchandise sales (SBJ, 8/14).

    Print | Tags: Cleveland Cavaliers, Houston Rockets, Miami Heat, NBA, Nike
  • Last Ride: Landis’ Phonak Team To Shut Down At End Of Year

    Switzerland-based hearing aid firm Phonak will shut down its cycling team at the end of the year, citing “continuing doping issues within the sport and an inability to sell the team,” according to Erica Bulman of the AP. Phonak, which sponsored the team of Tour de France winner Floyd Landis, was to be replaced at the end of the year by iShares, but Phonak Chair Andy Rihs said the deal was cancelled. Landis tested positive for high levels of testosterone after Stage 17 of the Tour, and Rihs said, “I am deeply disappointed because what he did was what led to this decision.” Bulman notes several other riders for the team “have been involved in drug cases since it was launched seven seasons ago,” including U.S. Gold Medalist Tyler Hamilton. Rihs said that he “tried to sell the team for [$0.80], or one Swiss franc” (AP, 8/15).

  • Tiger Woods To Sport New Line Of Nike Golf Shoes For PGA

    By Scott Hamilton, Staff Writer, SportsBusiness Journal

    Woods To Debut SP-8 TW Tour
    Spikes At PGA Championship
    Tiger Woods will wear a new line of Nike golf shoes this week as he tries to capture his third PGA Championship. Woods will break out a white pair of SP-8 TW Tour spikes when the first round begins Thursday at Medinah Country Club near Chicago. He will also wear those on Saturday and will don a black version for the tournament’s other two rounds. The shoe incorporates Nike’s new “Power Platform” technology, a four-tiered system designed to improve balance, traction and weight transfer through impact. The SP-8 TW Tour — as well as the SP-6 and SP-5 golf shoes — will be available as part of the Nike Golf fall collection, with prices ranging from $110 (for the women’s SP-5) to $220 (SP-8).

    CLOTHES: Woods will wear his usual Sunday red during the final round of the PGA Championship. Nike Golf officials, in a well-planned fashion script completed more than a year ago, have Woods wearing an atom red drop needle polo shirt this week. A French blue dri-fit fine stripe polo is planned for the first round, followed by a dark melon brush statement polo on Friday. Woods will sport a sail-colored tattersal jacquard polo for Saturday’s third round. All of the shirts are available to the public as part of the Tiger Woods Fall/Winter Collection for $70-90 each.

    Tiger Woods’ Nike Apparel Schedule At PGA Championship

    Print | Tags: Nike, PGA Tour
  • New Nike + iPod System Receives Tepid Feedback In Review

    Nike + iPod Receives Lukewarm Review
    The Nike + iPod system is reviewed by Kirsten Miller of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, who thought the Nike + shoes, which start at $85, “would come with everything I needed to get my iPod communicating with the shoes. But they didn’t even come with directions, just a sentence inside the box’s lid that said to visit — even though Nike has a dedicated site at” But at, Miller “discovered that neither of the iPods I already owned ... works with the system. Only the iPod Nano does.” One of the “big selling points” for the system has been the “power song” function that turns on an “upbeat tune you’ve previously chosen.” But Miller “wasn’t impressed with that function, especially since there were a couple of times when I pushed and held the center button and nothing happened.” Miller: “You’ll want to make a workout playlist in your iTunes program, because other than scrolling through songs with your iPod’s back and forward buttons, you have to pause your workout to change music.” But “on the positive side, downloading the software and getting the system set up is super easy.” Also, the system “tracks distance fairly accurately once you calibrate it to your own pace.” Miller: “I’d say the Nike + iPod system is more about style than substance” (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 8/15).

    Print | Tags: Nike
  • Tissot Gets Back On Track In Deals With Four ISC Venues

    Switzerland-based watchmaker Tissot has inked deals with four ISC tracks “as part of its initiative to use motorsports to increase its brand awareness in the U.S.,” according to Michael Smith of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. Tissot has completed deals with Richmond Int’l Raceway, Homestead-Miami Speedway, California Speedway and Michigan Int’l Speedway that will “put its brand at the start/finish line.” It previously contracted with Dover Int’l Speedway and Watkins Glen Int’l for similar signs. Additionally, Tissot will debut an ad later this month on ABC/ESPN that “incorporates footage of cars speeding past its brand at the start/finish line with the slogan ‘Timing your victories.’” Tissot last year signed IRL driver Danica Patrick as an ambassador, and in February inked a five-year deal making it NASCAR’s official watch and timekeeper (SBJ, 8/14 issue).

    Print | Tags: ESPN, IndyCar, NASCAR, Walt Disney
  • Equipment Makers Designing Rackets For Female Tennis Players

    Manufacturers Introducing
    Lines Of Women’s Rackets
    Sports-equipment makers are “rolling out a range of new tennis rackets designed for female players,” according to Carmen Fleetwood of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Female tennis players “have long used equipment that is essentially unisex,” and tennis is “behind a number of other sports that have created equipment for the female physique.” Companies say that “until recently, ... no rackets have offered a combination of features aimed specifically at a woman’s physical characteristics.” For example, the wooden Chris Evert racket, sold in the ’70s and ’80s by Wilson, “was marketed to women but was essentially a lighter version of a man’s racket.” Head has introduced a line of three lightweight titanium rackets for women called Airflow, which is endorsed by Steffi Graf and priced from $159-199. At the U.S. Open later this month, Fischer will launch two new rackets for women. Wilson last year introduced its W line ($200-270), endorsed by Venus and Serena Williams. Prince and Babolat “have no plans to launch women’s lines.” Some pro shops said that the women’s rackets “haven’t been selling well.” Head does not have sales figures yet, while Wilson said sales were “on track.” Fischer National Sales Manager Fred Romanus said sales of the GDS Vision FT are going “very well.” Fleetwood writes, “Questions remain about whether female athletes really want to use sporting equipment designed for them, or if they will feel such products are merely weaker, second-class goods — at a premium price.” According to the Tennis Industry Association, women racquets, priced as a high as $270, can “top the average of $170 among the top-selling rackets at pro/specialty stores” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/15).

  • Marketplace Round-Up

    AD AGE’s Abbey Klaassen reports cable’s upfront will finish flat to 2% below the $6.5B it brought in last year. Turner Sports President David Levy said, “I don’t believe we’ll see an upfront marketplace that wraps up over a two-to three-day period. (Upcoming markets) will be spread out over a couple of months ... and it will be moving to a 52-week marketplace.” He added that his networks “grew volume in the mid-single-digit range on flat to slightly up cost-per-thousand rates” (AD AGE, 8/14 issue).

    COME BACK? NASCAR driver Mark Martin said of reports he has been offered $8M to return to Roush Racing in ’07, “I wouldn’t hesitate a second to come back full time based on those crazy figures. But that’s not going to happen, I don’t think.” In Charlotte, David Poole noted NASCAR’s team limits would prevent Roush Racing from fielding a part-time team for Martin. Martin: “If I do any Cup driving at all, it’ll have to be with someone else.” Poole noted with Robert Yates Racing “seemingly rebuilding, rumors surfaced linking Martin to potential ownership there” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 8/14).

    PUT ME IN, COACH: Dan “Rudy” Ruettiger, the subject of the ’93 film “Rudy,” has launched a line of sport drinks. Rudy’s Revolution and a children’s drink, Rudy! Rudy! Flying Colors, will be carried by Gas City, the “first Chicago-area retailer to carry the drinks.” The Rudy drinks “went on the market about a month ago on the East Coast.” Ruettiger partnered with Drew Carver, son-in-law of former Notre Dame football coach Dan Devine, to found Scottsdale-based Rudy Beverage Inc., which is part of Global Beverage Solutions Inc.’s portfolio of companies (DAILY SOUTHTOWN, 8/12).

    Print | Tags: NASCAR, New England Revolution
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