SBD/Issue 162/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

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  • McDonald's Puts Logo On WNBA Jerseys As Part Of Sponsorship Deal

    The WNBA season tips off Saturday and as part of a new marketing deal with McDonald's, the league's 14 teams will feature the QSR's "golden arches on the front" of all jerseys during the season's opening week and each club's home opener, according to John Lombardo of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. This marks the first time that a "company logo other than the uniform manufacturer" has appeared on the regular-season uniform of an NBA, WNBA or D-League team. Under the deal, McDonald's also will be the presenting sponsor for the league's opening week. Financial terms were not disclosed, but WNBA officials said that the QSR "paid a rights fee along with a national media buy." McDonald's also will have a floor logo near the scorer's table, "courtside seat logos, rotational signage and logos on the stanchion pads during three nationally televised WNBA games." Additionally, McDonald's restaurants in WNBA markets will have POS ticket promos and players Thursday will make appearances in 10 league markets when the QSR "will give out millions of free samples of its new chicken products products as part of a national sampling day promotion."  McDonald's was a WNBA "original marketing partner" in '97, and it also partnered with the league for the '05 and '06 seasons (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 5/12 issue).

    I'M LOVIN' IT: AD AGE's Jeremy Mullman writes the sponsorship is the "latest sign of ads creeping onto one of the few pristine places left in major-league sports." And although this is a "one-time deal," WNBA President Donna Orender said that it was "likely the league would look to sell jersey space again in the future." Orender: "There are more partners out there that we'll be talking to about it. It could happen, yes." McDonald's Senior Dir of Alliance Marketing John Lewicki said of the jersey sponsorship, "There aren't a whole lot of opportunities to do it. It's a unique position, and we like the idea." Mullman notes the WNBA designed the jerseys to help McDonald's "launch its Southern-style chicken breakfast sandwich, which is being hyped with a national sampling effort" on Thursday. Lewicki said that the WNBA deal was the "best sports opportunity to market to women" the sandwich. The QSR is using NASCAR to "target men through sports" (AD AGE, 5/12 issue).

  • Vitaminwater Planning Full Marketing Campaign Around Kobe

    Vitaminwater recently signed Lakers G Kobe Bryant to an endorsement deal, and Glaceau Senior VP/Marketing Rohan Oza said the brand is "going to do a full 360 degree campaign with him," according to Darren Rovell of CNBC. Oza: "One part of it is around the motto he's living by now -- Carpediem." Bryant last week was named the NBA MVP, and Oza said Vitaminwater signed Bryant because he is "one of the hottest athletes in the world." Coca-Cola, which bought Vitaminwater parent company Glaceau in May '07, dropped Bryant as an endorser after he was charged with sexual assault in '03, but Oza said Glaceau "operates as an independent unit within Coca-Cola." Oza: "We came up with the decision to go after Kobe because we're fans of his and we liked the fact that he was already drinking Vitaminwater" (, 5/13).

    Bryant Beginning To Once Again
    Be Face Of Marketing Campaigns 
    ON THE RISE: In DC, Tim Lemke writes time will tell whether Bryant "will regain the level of appeal he once had," but his deal with Vitaminwater and an "expanded presence in other advertising campaigns suggest he is back on the rise as an endorser." Millsport Dir of Sponsorship Consulting Darin Perry said of Bryant, "His marketing is definitely on the uptick. We're a very forgiving society. It takes a little bit of time for all of the damaging elements to repair themselves." Bryant has "yet to regain endorsements from McDonald's, Nutella, Spalding and several other companies that dropped him" amid the sexual assault charges. Nike kept its relationship with Bryant "but used him sparingly until the criminal case was dropped and the civil case settled." Bryant now is "stepping back to the forefront, the main face of the company's campaign to promote its 'Hyperdunk' shoe." Lemke notes the Davie-Brown Index, which scores celebrities for "likability and recognition," shows that Bryant's image "has been improving since the end of last season." Bryant's "appeal" score has risen from 57 to 60 on the 100-point scale, but that still is "about 10 to 15 points lower" than Celtics C Kevin Garnett and Cavaliers F LeBron James. Also, while Bryant's "endorsement" score of 58.23 is "more than two points higher than last season," it is still "about 10 points lower than other top players." Meanwhile, figures from the NBA store in N.Y. and show that Bryant's No. 24 jersey ranks second in sales among NBA players behind only Garnett (WASHINGTON TIMES, 5/13).

    STILL A WAYS TO GO: Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom said of Bryant, "Before that rape charge, you couldn't turn on a television and not see him in some kind of commercial. Even his name was cute. ... Nobody says that about Kobe Bryant anymore. He may be popular and he may start to have an ad here or there, but he's not back to that marketable personality that he was before" ("The Sports Reporters," ESPN, 5/11).

  • Big Ten Partnering With Learfield Sports On Landing Sponsors

    Learfield Sports has agreed to develop a corporate partnership program for the Big Ten Conference, which has handled sponsorships in-house in the past. The partnership goes into effect immediately and the new entity will be called Big Ten Sports Properties. Among the Big Ten's current corporate partners are Liberty Mutual, U.S. Bank, Ramada, Gatorade, 7UP and Xbox 360. Learfield will construct a corporate partner platform for the Big Ten through media, hospitality, presenting sponsorships of select conference championships, venue signage and product sampling. Learfield will create assets for the Big Ten's Web site as well and work with the Big Ten Network to form multimedia platforms for sponsors. Learfield will hire the staff for Big Ten Sports Properties, which will have personnel at the league's headquarters in Park Ridge, Illinois, as well as downtown Chicago. Learfield represents six of the Big Ten's 11 members -- Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin.

  • Nike, Adidas Court Chinese Consumers Via Olympic Sponsorships

    Nike To Use Beijing Olympics As Springboard
    To Gain Larger Market Share In China
    Nike this summer will "take on Adidas AG and its other athletic-gear rivals" in a bid to use the Beijing Olympic Games as a "springboard to gain a larger share of the world's fastest-growing major market," according to Andria Cheng of MARKETWATCH. Nike's strategy is to "strike a chord with the Chinese public," so the company is "trumpeting a series of shoe models in sport categories ranging from weightlifting ... to wushu, a martial art that will be an exhibition sport at this year's Games." Nike is "entering shoes in 32 athletic categories, nearly tripling the number it had just four years ago" at the Athens Games. Nike Creative Dir for Olympic Footwear Sean McDowell said that Nike is getting into sports like weightlifting, wushu, taekwondo, boxing and fencing "primarily because they're high-profile events for the Chinese." Cheng noted it is "unlikely that Nike would ever mass produce shoes in all 32 sports categories," but the company believes that an athlete "winning a competition clad in its gear can help create a coveted consumer association with its brand." Meanwhile, adidas is countering Nike's efforts with a campaign titled "Together in 2008, Impossible is Nothing." The campaign marks adidas' "biggest marketing blitz, with a message crafted by its marketing team in China." adidas Chair & CEO Herbert Hainer said that the Beijing Olympics would help adidas "become the market leader in China this year."

    NEW BATTLEGROUND: While Nike commands a 40% share of the U.S. footwear market vs. adidas' 15%, the companies are "locked in a much tighter race in China." The marketplace competition in the country has included "grassroots marketing ploys, sponsoring local sports teams and players and appearing in new sales locations at a breakneck pace." Euromonitor data for '06 indicated that Nike was the "largest foreign shoe brand in China, with a 9.8% share of the total footwear market, followed by Adidas at 8.2%." Nike sponsors 22 of the 28 Chinese sports federations, while adidas has the "rights to outfit referees and event staff" at the Olympics. adidas also will "outfit Chinese athletes with uniforms when they're awarded medals," as a result of its sponsorship of the Chinese National Olympic Committee (, 5/9).

    ALSO IN THE RACE: BUSINESSWEEK's Frederik Balfour reports China-based athletic shoe and apparel company Li Ning also has "quite a lineup of sponsorships for the Beijing Olympics," including the U.S. table tennis team, the Sudan track & field team and Sweden's Olympic team for the Opening and Closing ceremonies. While Li Ning "once ruled China's sneaker business," the company now "lags behind giants Nike and Adidas even at home." Li Ning VP/Brand Marketing & Int'l Business Abel Wu acknowledged the company does not have "as strong a brand" as Nike and adidas. But Wu said, "Our thinking is that as a local brand, we need to have an international image." In addition to Li Ning's int'l sponsorships, the company is running an ad campaign titled "One Team, One Belief," which features European, African, South American and Chinese athletes "standing in a stadium with their hands across their hearts." Li Ning also is sponsoring the "NBA Jam Van Tour," which travels through Chinese cities and includes a basketball court that "can be assembled at every stop." Local kids are "invited to participate in competitions," such as the "Li Ning Slam Dunk Contest" (BUSINESSWEEK, 5/12 issue).

  • NFL Player Brand Univ. Aims To Give Rookies Business Acumen

    NFL To Work With Rookies
    To Develop Their Own Brand
    The NFL in conjunction with rookie minicamps in May and June will conduct NFL Player Brand University, a new "mandatory" program for all rookies that "aims to share marketing and business acumen," according to Barry Janoff of BRANDWEEK. The NFL will work with rookies to "develop their own 'brand action plans' and help define their marketing images." The agenda will include NFL marketing, PR and community relations execs, as well as reps from Velvet Suite Marketing Consulting Group, Atlanta. Agents for respective players also can attend, and the program is optional for veteran players. Nineteen of the league's 32 teams have opted in thus far, with the first session scheduled for this week with the Bears. NFL Manager of Player Development Vaughn Bryant: "Players hear a lot about what not to do, but this will show them what they can do." NFL VP/Player & Employee Development Mike Haynes: "Not everyone is [Colts QB] Peyton Manning, not every player comes into the league with big endorsement deals. This will have great value for the NFL, players and (marketing partners)" (BRANDWEEK, 5/12 issue).

  • Marketplace Roundup

    Beckham Shooting TV Spot
    For New Sharpie Campaign
    MLS Galaxy MF David Beckham recently shot print and TV ads for a new Sharpie ad campaign. The TV spot, set to debut in early July in select markets worldwide, shows Beckham using a Sharpie to autograph unusual items for fans (THE DAILY).

    GAMING GRAND PRIX:' Tom Ivan reported Codemasters has "secured the exclusive videogame rights" to F1. The worldwide deal provides Codemasters with "rights to feature all Grand Prix circuits, [F1] teams, cars, and driver likenesses." Codemasters plans to take the series "multiplatform with a debut release in 2009 for home consoles, handheld formats and PC." Sony previously held F1 rights, and they appeared only on PlayStation platforms. The F1 games will be developed using Codemasters' EGO Engine (, 5/9).

    BALL EFFECT: USA TODAY's Jerry Potter reports Titleist, which "dominates the PGA Tour in players" using its golf balls, has 11 wins this year on the tour, while Nike has six, including Trevor Immelman's win at The Masters. Callaway has two wins on the PGA Tour, but Lorena Ochoa and Annika Sorenstam have "combined to give Callaway eight wins in 11 tournaments" within the LPGA (USA TODAY, 5/13).

    NOTES: Sarah Fisher Racing (SFR) has formed a partnership with Bingham Entertainment & Sports Talent to promote the IndyCar Series team (SFR)....MRB Productions, which "creates spots, teasers and commercials for TV sports programming, will be generating promotions for this summer's ESPY awards" (, 5/11).

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