SBD/Issue 198/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

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  • Michael Phelps Violates Swim Cap Logo Ban, But Not Facing DQ

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    Michael Phelps “inadvertently” found himself in hot water Tuesday night at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha. Moments after winning the 200 meter freestyle, Phelps pulled off a plain black swim cap to reveal a second swim cap emblazoned with a Visa logo. The “wardrobe malfunction” put Phelps at risk for disqualification from the event because it broke a USOC and USA Swimming rule that forbids swimmers from wearing caps featuring corporate logos. Prior to the trials, swimmers were told that breaking the rule would result in immediate disqualification. But Phelps, already viewed as the face and story of the Beijing Games, was not disqualified. USA Swimming National Team head coach Mark Schubert and USOC Chief of Sports Performance Steve Roush spoke to Phelps after the race. Roush said, “It was inadvertently done, was what we were told, and we believe that was the fact.” When asked what was said and if there were any consequences for breaking the rule, Roush said: “That’s between the swimmer and the organization -- not the media. Michael Phelps has other races to concentrate on.” Phelps’ agent, Octagon’s Peter Carlisle, said: “Michael was rummaging through his bag and that was the cap he came up with. … There was absolutely no plan or intention to do that.” Phelps wore the Visa cap on the only night that Visa Senior VP/Global Partnership Marketing Michael Lynch attended the swim trials; Carlisle said that was just coincidental. Phelps has been endorsed by Visa since '02. Like all Visa Olympic athletes, his contract is believed to be worth $10,000 a year before bonuses, according to industry sources. He wore swim caps featuring Visa and Argent Mortgage logos at the '04 Olympic Trials.

    NOT EXPECTED TO HAPPEN AGAIN: Roush said he does not expect another swimmer to violate the logo rules before the trials end Sunday. “The logo information was provided to all the swimmers ahead of time and posted in athlete registration. I’m hopeful there are no further issues. We’ll deal with them and those specific situations as they arise.” Carlisle said, “I stand by my position (that corporate logos on caps) shouldn’t be an issue, but from my standpoint, (breaking the rule is) not the way you deal with it. I would absolutely not want any athlete thinking about that before a race.” Evan Morgenstein, who represents Amanda Beard, Dara Torres and others, said, “I told my clients not to wear logos on their caps, but when you look in your bag, make sure you have your eyes closed.” Swimmers often wear two caps in part to hold their goggles in place and because Speedo has developed a new, more hydrodynamic cap that’s become fashionable to wear on top of an old cap.

  • Office Depot To Be Co-Primary Sponsor Of Stewart's Haas Ride In '09

    Tony Stewart has an agreement in principle that will make Office Depot a co-primary sponsor on his new NASCAR Sprint Cup ride at Haas CNC Racing beginning in '09, industry sources said. Stewart is expected to announce in the coming weeks that he is buying into the Haas operation and the team will be rebranded to take on Stewart's name. As reported last week, Old Spice remains the leading candidate to be the other co-primary sponsor with Office Depot, which is in its final season as Carl Edwards' sponsor of the No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford.

  • 24 Hour Fitness Launches New Olympic-Themed Ad Campaign

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    USOC sponsor 24 Hour Fitness Wednesday launched an Olympic-themed ad campaign titled "We are all Athletes," featuring Kerri Walsh (volleyball), Jeremy Wariner (track), Brian Olson (judo) and Alicia Sacramone (gymnastics). A 30-second spot featuring Walsh shows an intramural volleyball team getting dominated by the Olympic gold medalist. After the rout, she asks if the team is up for a best seven-out-of-12. After the match, the team invites her to a barbecue. "Actually," she says, "I'll be in China." A player says, "You could have just said no." The other spots are similar in tone and theme. The ads will appear on broadcast, print and online outlets, as well as in 24 Hour Fitness clubs. The 30-second spots will appear in 24 markets, including Dallas, Phoenix and San Diego. The spots were created by freelancers Jason Headley and Suosdey Penn.

  • New Nike Tennis Commercial Reveals Roger Federer's "Coach"

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    A new Nike tennis spot that broke Wednesday in the U.K. reveals ATP Tour member Roger Federer's "secret coach," according to Rich Brown of the London TELEGRAPH. The ad shows Federer "being ambushed" by his coach -- played by actor Rhys Darby, who stars in HBO's "Flight of the Conchords" -- as he "returns home late at night following a day on the court." The coach "blasts numerous tennis balls" at Federer, but Federer "uses his trusted racket to fend off the barrage with his full range of strokes" (, 7/2). In Manchester, Mark Sweney reports the ad was created in-house at Nike's Portland HQs and will air on Sky Sports. The release of the ad "has been timed to coincide with the closing stages of Federer's bid for a record-breaking sixth consecutive Wimbledon title" (Manchester GUARDIAN, 7/3).

    GREAT SCOTT! CNBC's Darren Rovell reported Nike plans to release its new Hyperdunk shoe in a teal version to resemble the “Air McFly” shoes actor Michael J. Fox sported in the ’89 film “Back To The Future II.” Fewer than 1,000 pairs of the shoes will be produced. Nike is not using “Back to the Future” or the word “McFly” in relation to the shoe, as sources said that Nike is “trying to figure out just how much NBC Universal, which owns rights to the film,” wants to be associated with the project (, 7/2).

  • Who Wants Dessert? Mets Name Kozy Shack Team's Official Pudding

    Kozy Shack Inks Deal To
    Become Official Pudding Of Mets
    The Mets and New York-based pudding manufacturer Kozy Shack last week agreed to a deal making Kozy Shack "the official pudding" of the team, according to John Metcalfe of the N.Y. TIMES. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The Mets said that the official pudding distinction is "almost certain to carry over from" Shea Stadium to Citi Field when the Mets begin play there in '09, and Kozy Shack and the Mets both said that they "were looking at a three-year deal starting next year." The pudding has been available at Shea Stadium for "about a year," and the Kozy Shack name currently "graces the stadium's turnstiles and billows up on the field's huge video screen." Tubs of the puddings are sold "at all of the stadium's high-traffic concession areas ... alongside the hot dogs and giant pretzels, and are being included in children’s meals at the ballpark." The company is "trying to position its products as a healthy alternative to the foods that most people look forward to at a ballgame" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/3).

  • Despite Past Scandals, Sponsors Interested In Tour De France

    The Tour de France begins Saturday and despite the fact that it may "well be permanently sullied by the doping scandals of the past few years," media buyers said that "advertiser interest in the [race] remains strong," according to Kevin Downey of MEDIA LIFE MAGAZINE. Ad expenditures have "trended up every year since" at least '03. TNS Media Intelligence reported that in '07 advertisers spent $5.5M on Tour programming on Versus, up 8% from '06. Versus VP/Marketing Solutions Steve Margosian noted that the number of sponsors for this year is up from '07, with advertisers like Saab and Anheuser-Busch returning and others like Nestle "signing on for the first time." Margosian: "We are on par or have more sponsors than last year. We're certainly not running behind. The key thing for us is that we actually have three or four new sponsors coming in. We feel very good about it." Sports Business Group President David Carter: "There's reason for advertisers and sponsors to be cautiously optimistic because the number of distractions the sport is facing appears to be diminishing" (, 7/1).

    DOPING SCANDALS HURTING TOUR: Northwestern Univ. communications professor Irving Rein discussed the Tour de France in a Q&A with MEDIA LIFE MAGAZINE's Lisa Snedeker. Rein said the event has "declined as an attraction" among casual fans in recent years due to the various doping scandals. Rein: "Over the last few years, there's been evidence that television and local interest has not been as strong as in previous years. There's also the star factor that is a variable. Certainly the drama of [cyclist] Lance Armstrong's long streak of wins built interest not only in Europe but in North America." Snedeker asked whether doping allegations surrounding Floyd Landis, the '06 champ who subsequently was stripped of the title after testing positive for banned substances, "will hurt the sport." Rein: "In this competitive marketplace, with so many blue-chip major sports dominating the market and many new sports such as action sports and [MMA] gaining momentum, it would not be hard to see the Tour de France slip into the orbit of rodeos and roller derby." When asked what kind of finances go into a Tour sponsorship, Rein said, "A sponsor could easily spend $20[M] a year supporting a world-class Tour operation. ... These types of sponsorships have grown immensely over the last decade as sponsors find it more difficult to use conventional advertising and other crowded channels to reach their buyers" (, 7/1). 

    Contador Will Be Unable To Defend Tour De
    France Title Due To Team's Past Discretions
    TOUR OVERSHADOWED: USA TODAY's Sal Ruibal writes, "Cycling fans have become accustomed to the unusual since the Armstrong era ended. Doping scandals and political battles between Tour organizers and the international cycling federation have received more coverage than the race itself" (USA TODAY, 7/3). In Philadelphia, Bob Ford wrote Tour organizers "once again promise a 'clean' Tour, a promise that has been broken so often, it no longer has much meaning." For the third consecutive year, the first-place finisher from the previous Tour will not be in the field -- Armstrong retired after his '05 victory, Landis was not invited back after '06 and '07 champion Alberto Contador "now rides for a team banned from the Tour because of past doping violations." Of the nine men who "climbed the podium in the previous three Tours, only two are expected at the starting line." For any other sport, "this kind of upheaval would be mayhem," but it is "just another year" for cycling (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 6/30).

    VERSUS:, the official Tour de France Web site in the U.S., will offer live streaming of the race from 6:30-8:30am ET for Stage 1 on Saturday, and from 7:00-8:30am ET for Stage 2 on Sunday. TV coverage of the Tour on Versus will start at 8:30am ET both days. On average, the net will air 14 hours of race action per day over the course of the 23-day event. Daily coverage includes a pre-race show followed by live morning race coverage, race action replays four times a day and an expanded primetime show (Versus).

  • Marketplace Roundup

    Zheng First Chinese Tennis Player
    To Reach Grand Slam Semifinal
    The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Sky Canaves writes five weeks before the Beijing Games, China "already has a new sports hero” in Sony Ericsson WTA Tour player Zheng Jie, the first Chinese player to reach a Grand Slam semifinal. In a country where tennis "still lags in popularity behind basketball and soccer, Ms. Zheng could draw new fans to the sport, much as the success of [Rockets C] Yao Ming sharply boosted the country’s interest in basketball” (, 7/3). Zheng plans to donate "a large portion” of her $350,000 earnings at Wimbledon to victims of the earthquakes in China in May (MIAMI HERALD, 7/3).

    THIS IS THE END: In Portland, Brent Hunsberger writes Portland-based startup Environmentally Neutral Design (END) “aims to do what none has dared: market performance running shoes as sustainable footwear.” END is “pitching shoes whose greatest sustainable attributes are what’s missing: eye-catching bells and whistles that don’t much help runners move faster down the trail or track.” END’s trail runners and hikers will go on sale in Recreational Equipment Inc. stores and on its Web site on August 1 (Portland OREGONIAN, 7/3).

    NOTES: T-Mobile is switching to a series of ads with the tagline “Say Goodbye To Goodbye.” The ads “include pop-culture references, with cameo appearances" by former NFLer Brett Favre and Porky Pig (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/3)….Former Gold-medal winning swimmer Mark Spitz and Olympic Gold-Medal winning gymnast Nadia Comaneci on July 15 will officially begin a campaign endorsing Botox. A spokesperson for Botox manufacturer Allergan said that the two are part of “a new campaign aimed at educating consumers about the safe and effective use of Botox.” Other Botox endorsers include WTA Tour player Lindsay Davenport and Tennis HOFer Tracy Austin (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 7/1)….Bucks first-round draft pick F Joe Alexander, whose nickname is “Vanilla Sky” and whose parents have worked for Nestle, was asked by SI's Dan Patrick if he would do endorsements for Nestle. Alexander: “Only if they make me a taste tester. And make a Vanilla Sky bar” (SI, 7/7 issue).

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