SBD/Issue 175/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

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  • Nike Rolling Out New "Witness" Campaign Around LeBron James

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    As the Cavaliers prepare to play the Spurs in the NBA Finals beginning tomorrow, Nike is introducing a new “Witness” marketing campaign around Cavaliers F LeBron James that includes digital, print and TV ads, along with grassroots marketing. The campaign, a continuation of the original “Witness” campaign that debuted in November ’05, features a print ad with a black-and-white picture of James from the Cavaliers-Pistons Eastern Conference Finals with the line “We Are All Witnesses.” The ad will appear in SI, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and Akron Beacon Journal this week. A 30-second TV spot, breaking tonight on the 11:00pm ET edition of ESPN's "SportsCenter," includes highlights from the ’07 playoffs as Marion Williams’ version of the Bob Dylan song “I Shall Be Released” plays.  Beginning tomorrow, fans can download “Witness” ads and wallpaper on, while will feature a “Witness Board” where fans can post comments about James. Nike will select one post per day as a prize-winning “Witness of the Day.” Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, created the print and TV ads; R/GA, N.Y., created the digital content (Nike).

    LeBron’s Appearance In Finals
    Added Interest For League
    A STAR IS BORN: In a front-page piece in today's N.Y. TIMES' Howard Beck writes James' "emergence comes at a time when the NBA is often criticized for being a league of too many one-on-one players.” NBA Commissioner David Stern, noting the “certain subtlety to James’s brilliance,” said, “LeBron is beyond a highlight reel” (N.Y. TIMES, 6/6). James appears on the cover of this week’s SI under the header “NBA Playoffs: LeBron Arrives.” James is also on the cover of Sporting News, with the subhead, "The Cavs Soar After LeBron's M.J. Moment" (THE DAILY).  In Chicago, Rick Telander writes James "gains in the marketability department by not acting like someone who got [his tattoos] in a penitentiary setting. ... Being too bland isn't the answer, just as being too dangerous isn't" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 6/6).  In Columbus, Rob Oller writes, "The jolt that James will give the Finals is a certainty, even if the Cavs lose" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 6/6). ABC/ESPN analyst Mark Jackson said, "You walk through the streets of New York and talk to people, and it's all about LeBron. He is just what the doctor ordered [for the NBA]" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 6/6).

    THE RING'S THE THING: In DC, Tim Lemke writes it “likely will take several rings, along with a half-dozen performances similar to Game 5 [of the Eastern Conference Finals, where he scored 29 of the Cavaliers’ final 30 points] along the way, to cement his status as one of the game’s all-time greats” (WASHINGTON TIMES, 6/6). In San Jose, Ann Killion there are "two things we like most in sports: fresh faces who fulfill the hype, and classy champions. LeBron has the chance to be both, though it’s unlikely,” as the Cavs are a big underdog in the Finals against the Spurs (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 6/6).

  • Sponsors Reportedly Complain About Michelle Wie

    Tournaments, Pro-Am Partners
    Upset With Wie’s Recent Actions
    Michelle Wie’s pro-am partners at last week’s LPGA Ginn Tribute “were less than enthused with her hospitality and tournament organizers were left feeling the sponsor’s exemption they extended to her was not appreciated,” according to sources cited by Ron Sirak of Then, at this week’s pro-am for the McDonald’s LPGA Championship, sources said that Wie’s playing partners “complained that she would walk off by herself after hitting a shot and had little interplay with any of the four amateurs.” The complaints “annoyed McDonald’s officials and reached the office” of LPGA Commissioner Carolyn Bivens. A spokesperson for Bivens confirmed she “had a conversation with the Wies but declined to divulge its nature.” Sirak added that on Tuesday, LPGA rules official Doug Brecht ordered Wie’s mother and father, as well as her physiotherapist, “off the practice range, citing the LPGA rule that only coaches and caddies are allowed on the range with players” (, 6/5).

    WRIST SHOT: These reports follow Wie’s withdrawal at last week’s Ginn Tribute when, after being 14 over par through 16 holes, she withdrew citing a wrist injury.  Some have speculated that she withdrew because of an LPGA rule that states any player shooting 88 or higher is barred from competing in another event for the rest of the season. With Wie pulling out of the tournament on Thursday, but practicing at Bulle Rock, site of this week's LPGA Championship, on Saturday, LPGAer Annika Sorenstam said yesterday, "It’s a little funny that you pull out with an injury and then you start grinding.” But Wie said of speculation that she withdrew because of the rule of 88, “I don't think about 88. I mean, that's just ridiculous” (WASHINGTON POST, 6/6). Read Wie's full explanation for the withdrawal (, 6/5).  For a link to Wie's full explanation of her withdrawal, visit

  • Radical Media Taking Nike Show To Int'l Market

    Radical Media Signs Deal
    For Overseas Distribution
    New York-based Radical Media, which has produced branded entertainment programs for a number of customers including Nike, signed a deal with FremantleMedia to distribute such shows overseas, according to Suzanne Vranica of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Radical produced “Nike’s BattleGrounds,” a documentary series about a street basketball tournament that aired on MTV.  For Toyota it made “Two Roads to Baja,” a 60-minute special that aired on Speed Channel. Radical is currently working on “Fast Cars & Superstars” for Gillette, which debuts on ABC tomorrow.  Rights to "American Idol" are among FreemantleMedia's properties.  Radical President of Media & Entertainment Robert Friedman, in a Q&A, was asked if the problems with Bud.TV “will sour other marketers on the practice” of creating branded content. Friedman: “I don’t think it will sour marketers. I think great branded entertainment starts with compelling storytelling. ... For every 10 shows that are piloted, one works”  (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 6/6).

    NEW STRATEGIES: Anheuser-Busch VP/Digital Entertainment & Branded Content Jim Schumacker said that A-B has enlisted New Media Strategies “to reach out to bloggers and make them aware of Bud.TV content.” For example, the agency “might contact NASCAR blogs when video” on Budweiser endorser Dale Earnhardt Jr. is posted (ADWEEK, 6/4 issue).

  • Wheels & Deals: TMS Markets Around Wheldon-Patrick Incident

    TMS Using Wheldon-Patrick
    Incident To Promote Race’s Terry Blount reported Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) has dubbed the IRL Bombardier Learjet 550K this Saturday “Wheldon vs. Danica, Round 2,” in reference to the post-race skirmish between drivers Dan Wheldon and Danica Patrick at last week’s ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt 225 in Milwaukee. After that race, Patrick grabbed Wheldon's arm after complaining that he would not let her pass him on the track when he should have.  TMS in promotional materials "even sent out a tale of the tape, showing both drivers in their firesuits wearing boxing gloves and a giant belt with the TMS emblem” (, 6/5). Wheldon appeared on ESPN's "PTI" yesterday to discuss the incident, and said of Patrick, “I really think she’s feeling a lot of pressure being in one of those big race teams (Andretti Green Racing), certainly with all her teammates performing very well. ... She does need to act in a more professional manner and stop acting, quite frankly, like a spoiled brat” (“PTI,” ESPN, 6/5).

    BIFFLE TO DEI? There have been reports that DEI is interested in signing driver Greg Biffle to replace Dale Earnhardt Jr. next season, and’s Blount added Budweiser "may stay at DEI." Blount: “If that’s true, that gives (Biffle) an automatic sponsor to jump in the (No.) 8 car” (“NASCAR Now,” ESPN2, 6/5).

    JUST DUCKY: SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL’s Michael Smith cites sources as saying that Aflac is “on the verge of securing a multiyear team sponsorship deal with Roush Fenway Racing,” and the company is also talking to NASCAR “about acquiring official status” in the supplemental insurance category. Allstate currently holds rights to the auto, home and life insurance categories, but declined an offer for supplemental insurance. Aflac plans to be the primary sponsor of Biffle’s No. 16 Ford for four Nextel Cup races this year. Ameriquest is Biffle’s main primary sponsor, but the company is looking to “sell off races and get out of the final two years of its deal” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 6/4 issue).

  • Sports Garners Some Attention At AICP Awards

    The Association of Independent Commercial Producers held their 16th annual awards show last night at MoMA in N.Y. Sports-related honorees for '07 were as follows (THE DAILY).  

    Nike Zoom LeBron IV “Pool” Visual Style Wieden+Kennedy
    Nike Air Max 360 “Defy” Cinematography Wieden+Kennedy/Amsterdam
    HP Pavilion Notebooks “Shaun White” Graphic Design Goodby, Silverstein & Partners
    HP Pavilion Notebooks “Jay-Z” Graphic Design Goodby, Silverstein & Partners
    Nike Golf “Swing” Original Music Wieden+Kennedy
    adidas Adicolor Podcast “Red” Sound Design IDEALOGUE
    adidas 1 Basketball “3 Courts” Low Budget Cutwater

    A complete list of winners and clips is available at

  • Marketplace Round-Up

    USA TODAY’s Tom Pedulla, in a sports section Cover Story, notes Patriots QB Tom Brady’s current relationship with supermodel Gisele Bundchen and his baby, due in mid-August, with actress Bridget Moynahan. Univ. of Oregon Warsaw Sports Marketing Center Managing Dir Paul Swangard sees the relationship with Bundchen “as a positive, making Brady as compelling for ‘Entertainment Tonight’ as he is for ‘The NFL Today.’” Swangard: “His new celebrity status may create crossover opportunities that wouldn't normally be available to him” (USA TODAY, 6/6).

    SKATER BOYS: In N.Y., Matt Higgins reports the California High School Skateboard Club, a league of teams from seven schools in the L.A. area that began competing in April, is being backed by Nike, which will provide the league’s most valuable skater with two pairs of shoes per month for a year. Nike Skateboard Division Marketing Manager Kevin Imamura said that the company “chose to back the league, in part, because its structure hews to skateboarding tradition.” Imamura: “It becomes less about being a team and more about being a crew or a group of friends” (N.Y. TIMES, 6/6).

    CROCS: Crocs yesterday unveiled its new You by Crocs line of women's fashion footwear, which includes nine boots and shoes priced from $149-299 a pair. That is “far above the $30 price on Crocs's standard shoes.” The line, designed by Crocs’ Italian subsidiary, EXO Italia, will be available at retailers and online this fall (, 6/5).

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