SBD/Issue 100/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

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  • A-Rod Admission: Marketing Experts Divided On Long-Term Impact

    A-Rod's Admission Likely
    To Have Effect On Marketability
    Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez' admission Monday to using performance-enhancing drugs "after lying for years probably won't win him any sponsors on Madison Avenue," according to marketing experts cited by Michael McCarthy of USA TODAY. Some experts "think Rodriguez could eventually turn into Pete Rose: a fallen star whose marketing portfolio consists mostly of signing autographs and memorabilia." 16W Marketing co-Founder & President Steve Rosner: "His endorsement career is over. The only way he has any kind of shot is if he starts approaching the home run record." But McCarthy notes others predict Rodriguez "will make a marketing comeback similar" to Lakers G Kobe Bryant after he was charged with felony sexual assault in '03. Denver-based ad agency Worldwide Partners President & CEO Al Moffatt: "His sponsors will let the smoke blow over. Then in a year, he'll be like Kobe." McCarthy notes Rodriguez "doesn't endorse many products" (USA TODAY, 2/11). N.Y.-based 5W Public Relations CEO Ronn Torossian: "I don't see an endorser jumping up and down to sign A-Rod in the near future." But N.Y.-area marketing consultant Phil Reese noted Rodriguez has an advantage as he is "in the peak of his career." Reese: "With him, he's got time" (Bergen RECORD, 2/11). SportsCorp President Marc Ganis said Rodriguez "is going to have a cloud over him, particularly as he approaches the home record, where before this revelation, he was considered the anti-Bonds." Ganis: "He will always have this postscript. Sponsors don't like postscripts" (AP, 2/10).

    FALLING PRICES: In N.Y., Matt Lysiak notes those holding Rodriguez memorabilia including "signed baseballs, bats, gloves and baseball cards are watching their expensive collectibles plunge in value." N.Y. memorabilia store Gotta Have It! Owner Peter Siegel: "It's amazing. A few days ago I was paying $200 for a signed (A-Rod) baseball and selling them on a regular basis for $325, but today I wouldn't give anything for it." Ari Whitkes, Owner of a N.Y. Grandstand Sports location, said, "If A-Rod has a great start (to the season), maybe his stuff will begin to recoup some of its value, but a lot of damage has been done" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/11).

    GNC RESPONSE: Rodriguez Monday in his ESPN interview said players in the past "could walk in GNC and get four or five different products that today would probably trigger a positive test." A GNC spokesperson yesterday said that the retailer "does not sell anabolic steroids." The spokesperson: "GNC only sells legal dietary supplements. It is important to distinguish performance-enhancing substances from illegal anabolic steroids" (NEWSDAY, 2/11).

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  • Six Vitaminwater Flavors Contain Substances Banned By NCAA

    Revive To Be Displayed
    During Championships
    Vitaminwater is a "major marketing partner for the NCAA," but six of the brand's varieties may cause athletes to "test positive for banned substances," according to Natalie Zmuda of AD AGE. Revive is the "only Vitaminwater flavor that is directly affiliated with the NCAA, and it does not [contain] banned or impermissible substances." In October, Coca-Cola signed a multi-year agreement to display Vitaminwater's Revive flavor on the sidelines "during all college championship games." But a month later, Vitaminwater was "cited in a little-noted section on the NCAA website as producing six flavors containing banned or impermissible substances that could result in positive drug tests." Aside from Revive, another eight Vitaminwater flavors are "available on a by-request basis to players." The NCAA Web site states that the six flavors that include impermissible substances "do not have a direct association with the NCAA, and in situations where they are displayed alongside NCAA-themed promotions a visible disclaimer will be provided" (ADAGE.com, 2/10). Brown Univ.'s DAILY HERALD's Mitra Anoushiravani reported some Brown Univ. coaches have "told their teams not to drink the banned flavors of Vitaminwater." But Brown Univ. Assistant AD/Compliance Sarah Fraser said it was "more the responsibility of the individual student-athlete to know what they're putting into their body" (BROWN DAILY HERALD, 2/6).

    NCAA STATEMENT: The NCAA today released a statement refuting claims made in an AdAge.com piece about Vitaminwater containing banned substances. The statement said that the item “incorrectly states that student-athletes should not drink six of Vitaminwater’s varieties or they might test positive for banned substances. In fact, normal daily consumption of any of the 13 Vitaminwater varieties will not place a student-athlete at risk for testing positive for banned substances” (NCAA).

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  • Nike To Cut Up To 1,400 Jobs Due To Economy, Reorganization Plan

    Nike execs yesterday said that they "will cut as many as 1,400 of the company's 35,000 jobs worldwide," according to Laura Oppenheimer of the Portland OREGONIAN. An announcement "will come this spring, by the end of the company's financial year in late May." The layoffs would be Nike's first since '98 and '99, when the company cut about 2,500 positions. But this is "not the first belt-tightening measure of this recession," as late last year, Nike execs "instituted a hiring freeze, reined in travel spending and said they would slow their plans for opening new stores" in '09. Nike officials said that the upcoming layoffs "were driven partly by the economy," but they also are "tied to a long-term reorganization." Nike Oregon Region Communications Dir Bob Applegate said that staff reductions "will be based on a review of operations" in the company's six consumer-driven groups: soccer, basketball, training, women's training, running and sportswear. Layoffs "will span locations and job types, Nike and affiliated brands" (Portland OREGONIAN, 2/11). Penn Financial Group President Matt McCall said, “What happens in this type of economic downturn, you use this downturn as an excuse to realign operations.” McCall said Nike stock “has been completely battered … but if it keeps coming down a little bit lower it’s going to be a great value play because they have such great worldwide sales” (“Money for Breakfast,” Fox Business, 2/11).

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  • Marketplace Roundup

    Phelps' DBI Rating For Aspiration And Trust
    Dropped 15 Points Since Release Of Bong Photo
    CNBC.com's Darren Rovell reported while Gold Medal-winning swimmer Michael Phelps is "still considered a hot commodity" in the Davie Brown Index -- Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods are the only athletes with higher DBI scores -- "his aspiration and trust scores dropped almost 15 points" since the public release of a photo of him smoking from a bong. DBI spokesperson Chris Anderson: "That's a huge drop" (CNBC.com, 2/10).  ESPN Radio’s Jason Smith said Phelps “hurt his image, he hurt his earning power, he’s got to sit back awhile and wait before he goes back” (“Jim Rome Is Burning,” ESPN, 2/10).

    BEST FOOT FORWARD: Protege, a footwear and apparel line created by Knicks F Al Harrington, will make its debut exclusively in Kmart stores and on www.kmart.com this month. The men's footwear line features five sneaker styles priced at $34.99, while the boys line includes three styles priced at $27.99. The apparel line features performance shorts and T-shirts. Also, as part of its partnership with Protege, Kmart is donating one million pairs of shoes to Samaritan's Feet, an organization that provides shoes for children around the world. (THE DAILY).

    SECOND LOOK: AD AGE's Jeremy Mullman reported the "real reason" many viewers missed MillerCoors' one-second ad during NBC's broadcast of Super Bowl XLIII was because NBC "issued a directive to its owned-and-operated station affiliates not to run the local spots." A-B InBev VP/Marketing Keith Levy said that his company "did not ask NBC to pull Miller's ads." Levy: "We made no call to NBC. But, as the official (malt-beverage) sponsor, we do expect a certain level of protection" (AD AGE, 2/9 issue).

    ROUNDUP: In Birmingham, Mike Perrin reported the Southwestern Athletic Conference has "signed a five-year deal with Nike to be the exclusive footwear provider for all its athletic teams." The "basics of the agreement were agreed upon in the fall of 2008." Under the deal, officials for "select sports will also wear Nike shoes" (AL.com, 2/10)....The NFL Panthers on their Web site have listed new player jerseys that are marked down up to 50% off, and of the 36 different styles of jerseys on sale, 25 feature Panthers DE Julius Peppers' No. 90. Peppers has indicated that he wants to leave the team (JDNEWS.com, 2/9).

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