SBD/Issue 111/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

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  • Phil Mickelson Starring In Humorous Crowne Plaza Campaign

    Crowne Plaza To Debut Ads Featuring
    Mickelson (c), Feherty (r) In April
    Crowne Plaza in April will debut a "series of amusing, golf-themed ads" starring PGA Tour member Phil Mickelson, according to Larry Dorman of the N.Y. TIMES. The spots, featuring fans along with Mickelson and CBS' David Feherty, "promise to be funnier than last year's six 30-second and three 15-second spots of unscripted banter from golf celebrities" that highlighted Crowne Plaza's golf activation. More than 1,000 people auditioned to be in the "A Meeting With Phil" campaign. Topics of the spots include fans "who have been hit by an errant Mickelson shot, a legion of fans who believe they resemble Mickelson [and] fans who have advice for him." In one ad, when talking about the '06 U.S. Open at Winged Foot that Mickelson famously lost on the 72nd hole, Feherty says to Mickelson, "Isn't that the one you won?" Mickelson then "just looks at him, his expression a little mystified." Mickelson: "I like doing this. The gist of the humor is self-deprecating, which I like. It gives me a chance to laugh at myself in different settings." Feherty said of Mickelson, "He is sort of the touchable superstar. People really identify with him, not just because he's good with fans, he stops, he signs autographs, he spends a lot of time with them." Crowne Plaza Senior VP/Worldwide Brand Management Kevin Kowalski and VP/Brand Management Gina LaBarre both are "sold on this campaign and see it as a natural follow-up to last year's" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/28).

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  • Sponsors Cautious After Yao's Injury, No Plans To Downplay Him

    Yao's Sponsors Cautious Following
    Announcement Of Season-Ending Injury
    Rockets C Yao Ming's corporate sponsors are "being sympathetic -- and cautious" after the announcement he will miss the rest of the regular season with a stress fracture in his foot, according to Geoffrey Fowler of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Reebok has "staked much of its aggressive push into China's giant athletic-gear market on its sponsorship" of Yao, but the company said that it is "too early to say how the news might affect its marketing plans." Fowler notes sponsors including Reebok, Coca-Cola and Visa have "paid as much as $10[M] a year to feature [Yao] as a pitchman," and Yao's face "seems to be plastered everywhere in China." Marketers said that the majority of ads featuring Yao that will air during the Beijing Olympics have "already been filmed." Yao's Chinese agent Lu Hao said that among the many calls he received after the injury was announced were "several corporate sponsors, none of whom ... indicated that they would now drop or play down [Yao]." Lu: "The partnership between the sponsors and us is based on Yao's long-term performance and its match with their brand images, rather than the Olympics only" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/28). ABC's Stephanie Sy reported in China, Yao is "larger than life, the center of the sports world, the face of the Beijing Olympics" ("World News," ABC, 2/27).

    REEBOK COULD FEEL EFFECTS: CNBC's Darren Rovell wrote if the injury prevents Yao from playing in the Beijing Games, there is "no brand that will be reeling more ... than Reebok." The company recently released a signature Yao shoe, the Dragon ATR Elite II, and is "readying to release another in time for the Olympics," the Hexride. But Reebok is "only making 208 pairs for the U.S. and 2008 pairs for China." The "idea is for Yao to help the Reebok brand not only sell shoes, but sell everything else" (CNBC.com, 2/27).

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  • Making A Splash: GE To Send Global Message At Beijing Olympics

    General Electric Focusing
    Marketing Muscle On Olympics
    General Electric (GE) plans to make the "biggest splash it can at the Beijing Olympics" in an effort to show "potential customers and shareholders in the developed world that GE's creativity is translating into big sales in the developing one," according to Claudia Deutsch of the N.Y. TIMES. The company's "most daunting endeavor" is building an "imagination center in the middle of the Olympic Green." The center, which will be "half fun house, half museum exhibit," will be torn down after the Olympics, and the "only exhibit tied directly to the Games is a digital replica of the Olympics aquatic center, where GE is supplying the lighting." Meanwhile, the company is planning a TV and print campaign that puts an "Olympic spin on its effort to bring desalination technology to the Middle East, X-ray technology to China and heart monitoring gear to India." The spots, which show a "field tilled to look like a running track ... and windmills arranged in the form of the National Stadium," will appear on GE-owned nets including NBC and MSNBC. It also "hopes to put Olympic-specific ads at local airports and on highway billboards." GE did not disclose its marketing budget, but the company "is still clearly pushing a big chunk of money at the Olympics." BBDO, N.Y., Exec Creative Dir Don Schneider, who worked on the campaign, said: "We want to humanize GE even as we show worldwide investors that GE is a major player in the world." Brand research firm Odyssey President Nicholas Donatiello Jr.: "On television the Olympics looks like an athletic event, but on location it's a big business convention." Brand strategy firm CoreBrand CEO James Gregory: "They don't have a universal brand awareness outside of the [U.S.], and the Olympics gives them the international forum to get it" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/28).

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  • Marketplace Round-Up

    Boston-based retail outlet Filene's Basement, the Celtics and Comcast SportsNet have agreed to a new corporate partnership, making Filene's an official partner of the Celtics. The deal marks Filene's first official sponsorship of a pro team. Filene's also will dress Comcast SportsNet personalities during all Celtics games and the Celtics will hold a "Filene's Basement Night" during an upcoming home game, when the store will serve as presenting sponsor (Celtics).

    CALLING CARD: The Brewers and U.S. Cellular agreed to a multi-million dollar partnership naming U.S. Cellular the exclusive wireless provider of the team. Signage will be placed in and around Miller Park including on LED boards, as well as permanent signs in the outfield and on the Miller Park I-94 message center. Fans also will be able to sample the latest products and services at the interactive "U.S. Cellular Experience" kiosk in the Field Level Concourse (Brewers).

    Babolat Offering Armani-Developed Racquet
    FASHION ACCESSORY: Babolat has launched the new EA7 Emporio Armani tennis racquet, marking the company's first foray into the world of sport fashion. The white, silver and black racquet was developed for Emporio Armani 7, the sports technology brand of Giorgio Armani. (Babolat).

    DRIVING AWAY? ESPN.com’s David Newton reported "about half the field doesn't have full sponsorship" on the NASCAR Nationwide Series, and eight or nine cars at Stater Bros. 300 last weekend “didn’t have sponsorship at all.” Newton: “There is some concern over there. ... They’re paying close attention, but at this point nobody’s in a panic situation” (“NASCAR Now,” ESPN2, 2/27).

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