SBD/Issue 49/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

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  • Michael Phelps Signs Exclusive Fast-Food Contract With Subway

    Phelps Joins Fellow Athletes As Subway Endorser
    Subway and U.S. Gold Medal-winning swimmer Michael Phelps have signed a long-term marketing partnership. Phelps joins boxer Laila Ali, Saints RB Reggie Bush, Phillies 1B Ryan Howard, figure skater Kimmie Meissner, Spurs G Tony Parker and Fox' Michael Strahan as Subway endorsers (Subway). Subway "plans to unveil its first commercial featuring Phelps early next year" (Baltimore SUN, 11/21). AD AGE's Emily Bryson York wrote the deal, which locks Phelps into an "exclusive fast-food contract, is surprising because the swimmer openly campaigned for a relationship with McDonald's" during the Beijing Games. The new campaign "will highlight Subway as a destination for indulgent meals, such as a meatball sub, as well as healthy choices, such as grilled chicken on wheat" (, 11/20). Phelps notably during his appearance on "SNL" earlier this year was in a skit "with longtime Subway spokesman Jared Fogle spoofing Phelps' famed 12,000 calorie diet" (AP, 11/20).

    LOOKING LONG TERM: Following the Beijing Games, a host of QSRs put forward endorsement proposals for Phelps, including KFC, Pizza Hut, McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Subway and others. Phelps ultimately signed with Subway because its long-term proposal extended through London 2012, and its structure and worldwide operations made it more appealing to work with in the eyes of Phelps’ agent, Octagon’s Peter Carlisle. Carlisle: “He loves Big Macs, but he also loves Subway. He loves pizza. He loves it all. There were a number of brands that made sense because he enjoys their product. At the end of the day, you evaluate them for different criteria and one distinguish itself. We can do a program easily and predictably with Subway globally and that was the difference” (Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal).

    WHEN IS ENOUGH ENOUGH? In addition to Subway, Phelps has endorsement deals Speedo, Visa, Omega, PowerBar, Hilton, Kellogg's, PureSport, AT&T and Rosetta Stone. He also appeared in a recent commercial for Activision's "Guitar Hero III" videogame with Lakers G Kobe Bryant, Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez and skateboarder Tony Hawk (THE DAILY). wrote, "When is too many sponsorships bad for the brand that is Michael Phelps? Perhaps, Octagon, the agency that markets Phelps to the public, needs to take a step back and consider" (, 11/20).

    RINGING ENDORSEMENTS? In Toronto, Alison Korn writes Canadian Olympians who won medals in Beijing "haven't received the kind of endorsements their predecessors have, and many athletes who hope to get to Vancouver 2010 also are at risk of being left out in the cold." Toronto-based Landmark Sport Group President reps speedskater Cindy Klassen, hockey player Jayna Hefford and curler Ross Howard, all of whom have won Gold Medals in past Games, but "only Klassen, Canada's most decorated Olympian with six medals, is truly cashing in." Klassen currently is "featured in a Sony advertisement, and has a new McDonald's ad in the works" (TORONTO SUN, 11/21).

  • UFC Fighter Signs Marketing Deal After Being Cut For Refusal

    Fitch Says White Was Not
    Professional During Negotiations
    UFC fighter Jon Fitch has agreed to sign the company's "much-maligned video game licensing agreement," less than 24 hours after "being reportedly ousted from the UFC" in a dispute over the deal, according to Chad Dundas of Fitch spoke with UFC co-Owner Lorenzo Fertitta and "managed to clear the air" after disapproving of how he was treated by UFC President Dana White "during attempts to negotiate a deal involving rights to his name and likeness for the upcoming 'UFC Undisputed 2009' video game." Fitch, who has yet to speak with White since the incident, said, "It was never even about the agreement or the contract. It was the approach that we felt Dana was being a little bit hot-headed and was threatening us right off the bat. It didn't seem like a professional way of doing things" (, 11/20).

    FIRST CUT IS THE DEEPEST:'s Josh Gross reported UFC on Wednesday cut ties with Fitch and several American Kickboxing Academy teammates for originally not signing the rights agreement. After originally refusing to sign the deal, Fitch "said he was told 'either you're in if you sign this, or you're getting cut.'" Fitch on Wednesday said, "We thought that was kind of crazy. Why would you sign anything away for your lifetime?" Fitch: "This sport is definitely not about fighting anymore. It used to be about finding out who the best guy was, what the best style was. It's not about that anymore. It's about the top company making the most money." Zinkin Entertainment Manager Bob Cook said of Fitch, "He doesn't want to just sign blankly away, and be endorsing a product he might not believe in. He's got his beliefs, and some of the other guys, they want to be in charge of their own deals" (, 11/20). More from Fitch prior to signing the deal: "We tried to negotiate five- or 10-year deals with them, but it wasn't good enough. It was all or nothing. [White] wanted our lifetime. He wanted our souls forever." Fitch added that he "simply didn't understand the need to sign a lifetime contract, particularly since it would not pay his family in the event of his death." (, 11/19).

  • Enjoy The Shrimp: T-Mobile Debuts Latest Ad With Barkley, Wade

    Watch This Clip
    T-Mobile's ad campaign featuring Heat G Dwyane Wade and TNT's Charles Barkley "launched a new season Thursday night with the addition to the mix" of Rockets C Yao Ming, according to David Barron of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. The ad, produced via Publicis USA, Seattle, and titled "Yao's Comfort Food," shows Barkley and Wade "at a Chinese restaurant with what the waitress describes as Yao's favorite dish -- drunken shrimp." It premiered during halftime of TNT's coverage of Pistons-Celtics Thursday, and T-Mobile Dir of Advertising Jenna Beardsley-Smith said that the spot is the "first of three in T-Mobile's fourth season of NBA-themed advertisements" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 11/21). Later additions to the TV campaign during the '08-09 season will feature Magic C Dwight Howard and Basketball HOFers Magic Johnson and Julius Erving (NBA). After the ad debuted Thursday night, TNT's studio crew discussed it for several minutes, where Barkley noted it took a full day to film. TNT's Ernie Johnson: “We figured after that you needed some comfort food.” Two waitresses from Beautiful Restaurant in Atlanta came onto the set with plates of food for Johnson, Barkley and TNT's Kenny Smith. The three then ate while going over highlights of the first half. Smith, laughing at Barkley, said, “We gotta move this food, this guy cannot concentrate.” Barkley: “I’ll slap the hell out of you any second now” (“Inside the NBA,” TNT, 11/20).

  • Names & Faces: Polamalu To Remake Greene's Coke Super Bowl Ad

    Polamalu To Star In Remake Of
    Classic Coca-Cola Super Bowl Ad 
    In Pittsburgh, Ed Bouchette reports Steelers S Troy Polamalu "will be cast in the remake" of the classic Coca-Cola commercial starring Pro Football HOFer "Mean" Joe Greene that aired during the broadcast of Super Bowl XIV in '80. Polamalu "will revise the role that Greene played" in the ad, which will break during NBC's coverage of Super Bowl XLIII (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 11/21).

    LIFE AFTER GOLF:'s Steve Elling wrote of golfer Annika Sorenstam leaving competitive golf after this weekend's LPGA ADT Championship, "How high her grandiose marketing plan will soar is hard to predict, especially given the uncertain economy twinned with the timing of her self sendoff." However, if she can "somehow position herself as a sports entity outside the ropes, it'll be one of her more remarkable achievements." Golfer Cristie Kerr said, "If anyone can do it, I think she'd be able to do it. She's got a great team around her. She's won worldwide. If she's going to try to do it now it would have more chance to not succeed. I'm sure she knows all that. It will be interesting to see what happens" (, 11/19).

    NOTES: Red Sox 2B and '08 AL MVP Dustin Pedroia renewed his contract as spokesperson for Massachusetts-based Sullivan Tire & Auto Service. Terms of the deal were not disclosed (, 11/20)....In Boston, Jim McBride writes Coors Light's commercials featuring retired coaches is the "one thing to loathe" during NFL broadcasts. McBride: "Is there anyone who thinks these are funny? ... I hope the coaches are getting paid handsomely for having their legacies reduced to rubble" (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/21).

  • Marketplace Roundup's Frank Deford wrote today's football coaches "dress entirely different from their natty predecessors." Deford: "Until, as best as I can tell, sometime in the 1980s, football coaches dressed like gentlemen, who appeared to be merely stopping off at the stadium on their way to church." The NFL's deal with Reebok required coaches to wear the company's apparel on the sideline, but that "doesn't mean it's attractive just because it's being modeled." In fact, something of a "nadir was reached" in '06, when then-49ers coach Mike Nolan "had to actually petition the league in order to dress with dignity" (, 11/19).

    Nerjyzed To Debut New Game
    During Bayou Classic Festivities

    TONGUE TIED: During TNT’s “Inside the NBA” Thursday night, co-host Ernie Johnson unveiled a limited-edition Nike Hyperdunk shoe specifically designed for the show. Only 48 pairs of the shoe were made, each one featuring a caricature of the show’s co-hosts Johnson, Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley, on the tongue of the shoe. Barkley: “That’s nice but see, I’m a Nike guy, I’m used to it.” Smith: “We all are. I am as well” ("Inside the NBA,” TNT, 11/20).

    VICTORY RED: GOLFWEEK's James Achenbach reported Nike has "decided to painstakingly duplicate the irons and wedges of Tiger Woods and sell them at retail." The Victory Red TW Blades, which are "identical to the forged muscle-back blade irons used by Woods, began appearing in retail shops and stores during the first week of November." Nike Dir of Golf Club Product Creation Tom Stites said of the clubs, "We patterned the tools after what we grind for Tiger. We were very careful about this, and Tiger (before his surgery in June) tested them." Achenbach noted Woods is "scheduled to play the Victory Red irons when he makes his return to competitive golf in 2009" (, 11/17).

    IT'S GAME TIME: Baton Rouge-based Nerjyzed Game Studios "will debut the console edition of the Black College Football Experience video game" at the Superdome on November 28 during the 35th Annual Bayou Classic festivities. The event, which is being hosted by ESPN's Stan Verrett, "will kick off Nerjyzed's national advertising campaign for the game" (, 11/20).

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