SBD/Issue 165/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

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  • Virgin Money Lands London Marathon Title Sponsorship

    Virgin Money Signs Five-Year, US$33M
    Deal To Title Sponsor London Marathon
    Virgin has signed a five-year, US$33M deal for its Virgin Money financial services arm to become title sponsor of the London Marathon beginning in 2010. Virgin Money will replace Unilever’s Flora brand as the title sponsor (Virgin). In Manchester, Mark Sweney reports Flora will have served as the title sponsor for 14 years by 2010 after taking over the role from Mars in '96. One of the first developments under Virgin's deal "will be the launch of a new London marathon website" on April 26, the date of the '09 event. Features on the Web site will "allow users to enter online, find training partners, watch celebrities training and download music play lists" (Manchester GUARDIAN, 5/16). Virgin said that the company will include an official partnership in the first year with Virgin Unite’s partner CLIC Sargent, a children’s cancer charity (London TELEGRAPH, 5/16).

  • Discover Card Launching Spot To Coincide With WNBA Tip-Off

    Watch Discover Card's New WNBA Spot
    Discover Card on Saturday is launching a new TV spot in support of its WNBA sponsorship that coincides with the league's opening weekend. The 30-second spot, via Element 79, Chicago, is called "Slam Dunk" and features Fever F Tamika Catchings. In the ad, Catchings faces off against 12-year-old world champion tumbler Kiara Nowlin in a slam dunk competition. The spot will run throughout the season during WNBA games on ABC and ESPN2. The TV spot will be supported by in-arena and online executions (NBA).

    TEAM MARKETING NOTES: In Detroit, Chris Silva reports the WNBA Shock has turned to F Cheryl Ford "to be the face of the franchise" after the offseason departure of F Swin Cash to the Storm. The team is "asking more from [Ford], especially when it comes to off-the-court duties." Ford appeared in the league's new marketing campaign concerning "misconceptions about the WNBA," but when asked about making additional commercials, Ford said, "Hey, I made one. I got my two minutes of fame" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 5/16)....In Seattle, Greg Johns notes the Storm's marketing slogan this year is "The Perfect Storm," which deals with the "convergence of new ownership, a loyal fan following and the addition of big-time talent," including Cash and F Sheryl Swoopes (SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER, 5/16).

    Mercury's Kelly Mazzante And Kelly Miller
    Take Orders At Phoenix-Area McDonald's
    I'M LOVIN' IT: WNBA players on Thursday made appearances at McDonald's restaurants in nine league markets as part of the QSR's national sampling day to promote its new Southern Style Chicken Biscuit and Sandwich. The players worked in various roles, including taking orders inside restaurants and delivering orders through the drive-through window. McDonald's is sponsoring the league's opening week, during which it will have its logo on all WNBA jerseys (THE DAILY).

  • Olympic Sponsors Curb Spending, Jockey For Position In China

    Bank Of China Reaches Consumers As
    Official Vendor Of Olympics Tickets
    Many of the largest multi-national sponsors of the Beijing Games "substantially curbed spending on traditional TV, newspaper and magazine ads in China" during Q1, according to Nielsen research cited by Geoffrey Fowler of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Nielsen Media Research Asia-Pacific Managing Dir Richard Basil-Jones: "Despite the focus Olympic sponsors place on this significant event, they don't have limitless marketing budgets, and must carefully plan the best way to spread their ad spend." Publicis Groupe media buying agency ZenithOptimedia estimated that advertisers worldwide will "spend $3[B] extra on the Olympics this year, of which $900[M] will be spent in China." Chinese corporate Olympics sponsors with smaller budgets are "playing catch-up with the multinationals," and many of them "decided the Chinese New Year period would be a good time to kick their sponsorship campaigns into high gear." The Bank of China today will launch its TV, print and outdoor Olympics campaign with a "series of ads featuring China's national badminton team," via Havas SA's Euro RSCG China and Havas Sports China. Additionally, some sponsors are "showing signs of very targeted approaches in their advertising." GE has focused its ads in airports to "reach business travelers," and Bank of China is "making its target audience come to it, with the bank's branches serving as the official vendor for Games tickets."

    adidas Launches Olympic Campaign Early To
    Avoid Advertising Clutter Surrounding Games
    TIMING IS EVERYTHING: Fowler notes an option for competitors of Olympics sponsors is to "do little or no advertising during the Games, and instead come on strong right after the Games are over." WPP Group's Group M ESP Asia CEO Mike Rich: "We have a number of clients who are taking the view that relative to the clutter and cost of communicating during that time, it is better to go relatively dark." Fowler notes adidas did not want to launch during the int'l torch relay and "didn't want to compete with the general flurry of advertising that accompanies the Chinese New Year period" in February. The company "chose to begin its heavy advertising push in late November and December of last year, when it figured its competitors might be quiet." Aegis Group's Carat China Communications Planning Dir Seth Grossman, whose company works with adidas, said adidas in December "had about a 90% share of voice," which Fowler notes is the "share of spending on advertising among competitors" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/16).

    HUMAN RIGHTS EFFECT ON SPONSORS: Luntz, Maslansky Strategic Research President Michael Maslansky appeared on CNBC Thursday to discuss whether China's human rights record is hurting Olympic sponsors. Maslansky said the majority of fans are "not going to pay attention" to the issue during the event. Maslansky: "They’ll watch the Games, they’ll be excited by the Games, but they’re not going to pay attention to the politics." He said the larger issue for sponsors is that they "haven’t done a great job of creating a positive message. The protesters have really owned the debate about the Olympics. They’re making it about Darfur, they’re making it about Tibet." Maslansky: "If they what to make this a productive sponsorship for them ... I think they have to change the way that they talk about the Olympics and really get out in front of this in a way that they haven’t done so far” (CNBC, 5/15).

  • Motorsports Authentics Holding First NASCAR Memorabilia Show

    Motorsports Authentics will hold its first “NASCAR Collector Memorabilia Show” on Saturday at the Embassy Suites near Lowe’s Motor Speedway. More than 40 dealers, wholesalers and other licensees are expected to attend the show, which will include question-and-answer sessions with drivers, auctions and panel discussions. Among the licensees expected to attend are Fathead, Sam Bass Gallery, NASCAR HOF, Press Pass, Mounted Memories and Tissot. NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne, ESPN's Rusty Wallace and NASCAR President Mike Helton will be among the speakers. One of the panel discussions will be dubbed “Guard Rails and Tall Tales” and will feature driver Terry Labonte and former drivers Bobby Allison, Junior Johnson and Ernie Irvan.

  • Names & Faces: Jim Rice To Be Spokesperson For RCN Corp.

    Rice Signs Two-Year Deal To
    Become RCN Spokesperson
    In Boston, Jay Fitzgerald reports former MLBer Jim Rice has signed a two-year deal to be a spokesperson for telecommunications company RCN Corp. Terms were not disclosed. Rice will appear in ads and make various appearances, including youth clinics. RCN CEO Peter Aquino said that the move is "part of the firm's planned media blitz to heighten its profile in the Boston area." The company has 80,000 customers in the state of Massachusetts (BOSTON HERALD, 5/16).

    STICKING WITH ANNIKA: Despite LPGA member Annika Sorenstam Tuesday announcing her retirement effective at the end of the year, Cutter & Buck said that it "plans to grow the athletic-styled Annika brand on a global basis." Also, Callaway, whose contract with Sorenstam expires in 2010, said that it "plans to continue its relationship with Sorenstam and her golf academy." However, several other of Sorenstam's endorsement deals are "expected to be renegotiated while others simply end" (, 5/15).

    NOTES: Blue Jackets LW Rick Nash will appear on the cover of 2K Sports' "NHL 2K9" videogame, which will be released this fall (2KSports)....Sony Ericsson WTA player Venus Williams said she entered into a endorsement deal with Powerade Zero because it "targets an audience aligned with my lifestyle [that] made the partnership interesting from the outset." She added she was "intrigued that Powerade Zero is bringing a new dimension to the beverage world" (, 5/15)....IRL driver Sarah Fisher has signed deals with Indiana Univ.-Purdue Univ. Indianapolis and Hartman Oil "that should cover her May budget" (USA TODAY, 5/16).

  • Marketplace Roundup

    Vendt's Agent Says His Agency Will No Longer
    Work With TYR Sport Following Lawsuit
    Premier Management Group's (PMG) Evan Morgenstein, the agent of U.S. swimmer Erik Vendt, Thursday said that PMG would "no longer work with" TYR Sport after TYR filed a lawsuit against Speedo that cited Vendt. Morgenstein in an e-mail said the "unfair treatment" of Vendt prompted the decision. Morgenstein added that "existing contracts would be fulfilled." He also denied TYR's claim that Vendt "breached his contract by wearing" Speedo's LZR Racer suit. Morgenstein: "It is unconscionable to think that a company such as TYR has so badly misread their own contract" (L.A. TIMES, 5/16).

    ON CALL:'s Darren Rovell reported State Farm for its sponsorship of the MLB Home Run Derby will choose a fan to come onto the field at Yankee Stadium and call where Red Sox DH David Ortiz "will hit his first pitch." If Ortiz hits the shot where the fan guesses, the fan will win a '08 Chevy Tahoe hybrid and an '09 season-ticket package for his/her favorite MLB team (, 5/15).

    RING-ING ENDORSEMENT? Roush Fenway Racing’s No. 99 Ford driven by Carl Edwards that will carry a wedding proposal at Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series All-Star Race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway was discussed on ESPN's "PTI" Thursday. ESPN's Michael Wilbon said, "I don’t understand the culture of NASCAR where ... there’s nothing that is without sponsorship and signage. So why not a wedding proposal?” But ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said a wedding proposal on a car “seems awfully cheesy to me" ("PTI," ESPN, 5/15).

    UNSTOPPABLE: In Chicago, Paul Sullivan reports while the Cubs were able to get vendors selling MLB merchandise around Wrigley Field to stop selling the "racially insensitive" T-shirt featuring a "cartoon of a slanty-eyed bear Cub with oversized, Harry Caray-style glasses," the ban "hasn't stopped individuals with city licenses from selling them." But a Cubs spokesperson said that the company that manufactures the shirts "has agreed to stop making them" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 5/16).

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