SBD/Issue 96/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

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  • Phelps Says Public Scrutiny Could Cause Him To Skip 2012 Games

    Phelps Speaks Publicly For
    First Time Since Sunday
    U.S. Gold Medal-winning swimmer Michael Phelps yesterday indicated that the "intense public scrutiny" surrounding a photo of him allegedly smoking marijuana has him "contemplating whether he will swim" in the '12 London Games, according to a front-page piece by Kevin Van Valkenburg of the Baltimore SUN. Phelps, speaking publicly for the first time since the photo was published in a British tabloid Sunday, said, "This is a decision of mine that I'm not going to make today and I'm not going to make tomorrow. It's going to require a lot of time and energy and a lot of thinking for myself -- but also talking to [coach Bob Bowman] and talking to my family and just deciding what I want to do." Phelps added, "There are still goals that I have in the pool, 100[%]. But I'm not going to let anything stand in my way. If I decide to walk away, I'll decide to walk away on my own terms. If it's now, if it's four years, who knows. But it is something I need to think about and decide what I want to do." Phelps admitted he "clearly made a mistake," and said he and his family have "been talking a lot" since the photo was published. Phelps: "This was stupid, and I know this won't happen again. ... I think this is like the DUI [in '04], in that it's something I can talk more about and make sure that nobody makes the same mistakes I made. What I've gone through in the last week, no one wants to go through" (Baltimore SUN, 2/5).

    USOC WANTS MEETING WITH PHELPS: USOC CEO Jim Scherr yesterday said that he would "like to have a face-to-face meeting" with Phelps, while USOC Chief Communications Officer Darryl Seibel said that the federation was "sending Phelps a letter offering its assistance." Scherr said, "Based on this occurrence, we at the USOC, as we said in an earlier statement, are exceptionally disappointed in him, as he is in himself. We'll follow up and have a direct conversation with him and people close to him." Scherr added, "I think, obviously, his sponsors and people close to him will be and are concerned about whether this may be a recurrence or whether this is a pattern of behavior" (AP, 2/4). Meanwhile, FINA yesterday accepted Phelps' apology, and ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said, “I hate when people in positions of authority are afraid of young athletes ... and they just sort of cower and they just kiss up to them in such a way and offer them praise as if it's going to somehow reflect on them, and they come off looking like morons” ("PTI," ESPN, 2/4).

    Subway Refusing To Comment, Issue
    Statement Regarding Phelps Incident
    FLIP TURN? USA TODAY's Christine Brennan writes the "succession of unabashed sponsor love for Phelps officially ended Wednesday" when Subway and Kellogg's, two partners who have yet to offer public support of Phelps, "did not support him when asked for a comment." Subway spokesperson Megan Driscoll in an e-mail said, "Subway is not commenting or releasing a statement right now on Michael Phelps." Kellogg's would not comment on the issue. Brennan notes the two companies are "not saying no and they're not saying yes, which probably means" they are "not happy, and ... thinking about their options." Brennan: "Thank goodness a smidgen of sanity remains in the corporate world." But as we "near the end of Phelps' miserable week, one question lingers above all others: While many were looking out for Phelps' financial well-being, who was looking out for him?" (USA TODAY, 2/5). BLOOMBERG NEWS' Scott Soshnick wondered if Phelps' representatives at Octagon are "looking out for Phelps, the person, or Phelps, the cash register" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 2/4).

    BOTH SIDES OF THE TABLE: In Toronto, Rosie DiManno writes under the header, "Phelps' Bong Toke Blown Out Of Proportion." The public's response thus far to Phelps' "itsy-bitsy transgression has been one big shrug -- except for some sports columnists wagging their fingers: The same moral stalwarts who routinely get pissed to the gills, sometimes right after filing their dispatches on Phelps from pool-side." It is "silly to place him among that firmament of felons" (TORONTO STAR, 2/5). ESPN’s Mike Greenberg said of Phelps possibly skipping the London Games, “I really hope this episode does not keep him from doing it again. That would be really a shame. I think what he did can be described as irresponsible and silly. … People have done far worse things” (“Mike & Mike in the Morning,” ESPN2, 2/5). In Boston, Charles Pierce writes to Phelps, "Your apology is unnecessary. You don't owe me one. ... I truly do not care that you undermined all the hard work that your sponsors and [NBC] put into creating an artificial You" (BOSTON GLOBE "OT," 2/5 issue). But's Mike Freeman wrote Phelps is "receiving the kind of pass you rarely see athletes get." His sponsors are "sticking by him and it seems many sports fans are defending Phelps as are members of the media." But Phelps "possesses a sense of arrogance and self-entitlement many of us didn't spot until now, a combination of Ko-Me Bryant and Manny Ramirez" (, 2/4). In Cleveland, Bud Shaw writes under the header, "Phelps' Backers Deserve A Gold Medal For Loyalty (Or Blind Faith)." Phelps should not be arrested, but the "reaction is such you'd think hitting a bong is just another water workout for an Olympian swimming in $100[M] worth of endorsements." Shaw: "I don't know what the tipping point is for sponsor loyalty to athletes who do dumb things" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 2/5).

    Will Image Of Smoking From Bong Be
    Synonymous With Michael Phelps Forever?
    COULD HAVE LINGERING IMPACT: The AP's Tim Dahlberg wrote, "Images are everything, and the image of Phelps with a bong pressed up against his face will live in people's minds long after they've forgotten the image of him with eight gold medals around his neck." Phelps will be the "Olympian who likes to party, not the swimmer who won the most medals ever" (AP, 2/4). In Detroit, Jamie Samuelsen wrote, "I doubt this stains Phelps long-term." However, there are "two things though that could hurt him." The London Games is the next time the world will be focused on his swimming, and "sometimes these things get bigger as public pressure grows." Samuelsen: "All we're asking for from Phelps [is] a little common sense and responsibility" (, 2/4).

    TIME TO SHOW HUMILITY: In New Orleans, John DeShazier wrote Phelps "exhibited a level of misjudgment -- or stupidity, or hubris -- that suggests he deserves a penalty that's a little more severe than making a couple of public service announcements and speaking to a few hundred grade school kids." As a celebrity, "you know every move is being watched," and you "should do what you do publicly with much forethought." But if Phelps "didn't learn that after the Athens Games, after all of the unwanted spotlight he earned because he drank and drove while he couldn't legally drink and obviously shouldn't have been driving, then you wonder how long it's going to take for the lesson to sink in" (, 2/4). ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said, "He's a great swimmer and he’s very practiced at the art of apologizing and promising it will never happen again. So now he's gone through a DUI, now he’s gone through a bong hit, and if he cheats on his taxes he will apologize again and tell you sincerely that this is never going to happen again. The truth of the matter is you have to question his character and certainly his judgment” (“PTI,” ESPN, 2/4). In Jacksonville, Gene Frenette writes Phelps is "just another big shot hoping a short mea culpa would make it all blow over" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 2/5).

    INCIDENT COULD INCREASE POPULARITY: In K.C., Sam Mellinger wrote the incident actually may make Phelps "more popular." Phelps "hasn't been caught doing anything that too many of us haven't also done." He is a 23-year-old with "flaws who makes stupid decisions like other 23-year-olds." Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban's popularity "only grows when we see pictures of him out," and Steelers K Jeff Reed similarly "becomes something of a cult hero" when compromising pictures of him are released. Actress Vanessa Hudgens' popularity "spiked after nude photos of her made the rounds," and reality TV star Kim Kardashian's "celebrity launched shortly after her sex tape leaked." Mellinger: "Instead of being turned off, there's a huge segment of sports fans who like seeing their athletes as human" (, 2/4).

  • Future Unclear For Entitlement Of PGA Tour Buick Invitational

    Tiger Woods (r) Will Not Play In Buick 
    Invitational For First Time Since 1998
    The "crisis plaguing the automobile industry" has put the PGA Tour Buick Invitational's namesake into question, and "no one knows for sure what will happen" when the car company's entitlement expires next year, according to Marc Figueroa of the NORTH COUNTY TIMES. Buick has title sponsored the event, which teed off this morning at Torrey Pines, since '92, and Tournament Dir Tom Wilson said Buick has "shared with us that they intend to honor their agreement." Wilson added, "We've even had discussions about extending the relationship. But time will tell how things will shake out in the future." Wilson noted that tournament officials have had discussions with "other potential sponsors, but will not pursue them until they learn what Buick's plans are for the future." Wilson indicated that the event's "corporate hospitality sales" are down about 20% from last year (NORTH COUNTY TIMES, 2/4).

    PROCEED WITH CAUTION: In San Diego, Tim Sullivan reports Buick has "eliminated alcohol from its hospitality areas" at this week's event, and the 25 automobile dealers who competed in yesterday's Pro-Am "did so largely on their own dime." GM this month will receive $13.4B in federal bailout money, and company execs are "acutely wary of appearing wasteful."  Buick Golf Marketing Manager Larry Peck: "We want to err on the side of caution. We still need to advertise our products. In fact, you could argue right now, probably more than ever. But we're taking a very prudent approach." Wilson said, "Buick has given us every indication that they're going to continue with their sponsorship for 2010, and we have no reason to believe that they won't do that. They still have to market their product, still have to sell their product, still have to get it out in front of people." But Wilson added, "Economics is economics. If they can't afford to do it, that may change golf." PGA Tour Exec VP/Communications & Int'l Relations Ty Votaw: "Given what we're going through in the economy, it's a little early in this process to make predictions about what might happen at the end of 2010." Votaw noted that the PGA Tour has "yet to negotiate a tournament sponsorship deal for less money than was paid previously" (SAN DIEGO UNION TRIBUNE, 2/5).

    AN ABSENT ROAR: Golf Channel's Steve Sands reported golfer Tiger Woods, who has won the Buick Invitational six times, is the "poster child" for this year's event despite not entering it due to his recovery from knee surgery. Woods is featured on event posters and other promo items, and it has "become somewhat of a controversy in San Diego." However, it is "customary for the defending champion of a PGA Tour event to be promoted by tournament officials." Woods had played in the Buick Invitational every year since '98, and San Diego Union-Tribune golf writer Tod Leonard said the "market didn't really adjust to the fact that Tiger wasn't going to be here." Leonard: "People still wanted him to be here, hoped he was going to be here and now he's not, so there's a little bit of a hole really in this tournament" ("Golf Central," Golf Channel, 2/3).

  • Hudson's Bay Hoping To Use Olympics To Reconnect With Customers

    Hudson's Bay Hopes Canadian Olympic Team
    Connection Will Boost Business
    Toronto-based Hudson's Bay Co., the official outfitter of the Canadian Olympic team, "is betting heavily on the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games as a way to reconnect with customers, even as it takes steps internally to consolidate its flagging operations," according to Marina Strauss of the GLOBE & MAIL. The company, which yesterday cut 1,000 jobs, next week "will unveil a new corporate logo tied to its heritage as the country's oldest company and an Olympics strategy that will tie its name closely to the Games." Hudson's Bay parent company Hudson's Bay Trading Co. CEO Jeff Sherman: "The Olympics is an opportunity to communicate a rebranding of the strategy of the Hudson's Bay Co. It's an opportunity to recommunicate and reconnect to the marketplace. We are looking backwards to our heritage and combining both our heritage and our future." Vendors said that in the past they were "reluctant to sell to the Bay because of the department store chain's fading image." Strauss reports Hudson's Bay "taking advantage of the Olympics would be a turnaround from the company's experience after last year's Summer Games, when its stores were left with unsold Olympics clothing that they had to sell off at heavy markdowns." Sherman has said that those designs "didn't resonate with customers." The company for the Vancouver Games is "working on creating more sought-after designs that will be commercially viable for a longer period" (GLOBE & MAIL, 2/5).

  • Right Down The Fairway: Mirassou Winery Inks Deal With LPGA

    Mirassou Winery and the LPGA this morning announced a three-year deal making Mirassou the official wine of the LPGA and the presenting sponsor of the Phoenix LPGA Int'l, which will be played March 26-29 at Papago Golf Course in Phoenix. Mirassou was represented by MEC Access, part of GroupM ESP (THE DAILY). In Phoenix, John Davis reported before the announcement that sources close to the tournament, including an LPGA player and member of the event's BOD, said that they were "in the dark about tournament details." The event had been played for the previous five years as the Safeway Int'l at Superstition Mountain Golf & Country Club. Tournament Golf Foundation President Tom Maletis, whose Portland-based nonprofit runs the event, last year said that he "hoped to return to Superstition because of its success at the site, but negotiations had been difficult due to its financial position" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 2/5).

  • Sprint To Be NBC's Presenting Sponsor Of Alpine Championships

    Universal Sports and NBC signed a deal with Sprint that makes the mobile phone company a presenting sponsor of network and cable coverage of the Alpine World Ski Championships airing through February 15. Sprint will receive presenting sponsor designation, on-air branded spots, on-air mentions and opening and closing billboards. It also receives pre-roll video in all World Championships coverage online at Sprint is a sponsor of the U.S. Ski team. The deal was sold by the NBC Olympic and Universal Sports sales teams. The biennial Alpine World Ski Championships began Tuesday and run until February 15 in Val d'Isere, France. NBC will air same-weekend coverage this weekend and on Sunday, February 15. NBC partner and Universal Sports TV will broadcast over 100 hours of same-day coverage of the entire event.

  • That's G: Gatorade Has Highest Brand Exposure During Super Bowl

    Gatorade Received $30.1M In Exposure
    From 27 On-Air Minutes During Super Bowl
    Gatorade led all brands in televised exposure during NBC's broadcast of Super Bowl XLIII, according to an analysis by K.C.-based measurement firm Image Impact. Gatorade, which used the event to showcase its "G" campaign, received $30.1M in exposure from nearly 27 minutes of on-air exposure during the broadcast. The company obtained $19.3M in exposure from serving as the presenting sponsor of the Gatorade Halftime Report, and the company received over $2M in exposure through its product placement atop the NBC desk during the net's pregame show. Meanwhile, the A-B InBev family of brands, including Budweiser, Bud Light and Bud Light Lime, yielded nearly $14M in exposure during the broadcast. Reebok received the most detections, as shots of the Reebok logo on players' jerseys accounted for over 17 minutes of on-screen time, while Bridgestone, the sponsor of the Super Bowl XLIII Halftime Show, earned $9.8M in exposure. Image Impact analyzed and monetized all in-broadcast brand exposure in the 11 hours of Super Bowl coverage on NBC, which yielded nearly $133M in brand exposure. It was estimated that the net sold each of the in-game 30-second ad spots for as much as $3M; pregame inventory sold for less. The following lists the top 10 brands that received the highest level of brand exposure (Image Impact).

    Duration (MM:SS)
    State Farm

    METHODOLOGY: Using the various rates as a baseline for its two proprietary metrics, Image Impact was able to determine the total monetary value of the broadcasts. The QI ScoreSM (Quality Impact Score) assigns a measure of quality based on the duration, size, isolation status and types of detection appearing in a broadcast; it is a measure of potential impact. The MV (Monetary Value) is a dollar amount representing the estimated monetary value of a sponsors' detections within the context of a given broadcast presentation and is calculated using an established value of the 30-second spot rate for the broadcast as a benchmark before discounting by the percentage of the Quality Impact Score.

  • Marketplace Roundup

    Crabtree's Agents Trying To
    Negotiate Endorsement Deals
    Agent Mike Ornstein, who along with agent Peter Miller is handling NFL Draft prospect WR Michael Crabtree's marketing, said that he and Miller "are currently negotiating with shoe companies, trading card companies and autograph dealers" on behalf of Crabtree. Ornstein noted adidas/Reebok, Nike and Under Armour are all "interested in signing" Crabtree. Ornstein: "For Under Armour, it's more intriguing because he's really the first college star to come out having worn Under Armour shoes in school."'s Darren Rovell noted Maximum Sports Management President Eugene Parker will negotiate Crabtree's contract (, 2/4).

    A DEAL YOU CANNOT REFUSE: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said of the league potentially allowing advertisements on jerseys, "I suppose that on a league-wide deal if somebody came in and offered a ridiculous amount of money that I couldn't even imagine, I'd have to take it to the owners and see what their preference is." But Bettman added, "I think, for the foreseeable future, the uniforms will stay, from a commercial standpoint, the way they are" (CBC Radio, 2/4).

    YOU CAN'T SEE ME: Golfer Boo Weekley has unveiled an apparel line called Firethorn by Boo Weekley, and he said of the endeavor, “I’m not the designer. I just like camouflage. They can figure out the colors that go with it. But its mossy oak print that we are doing." He noted Firethorn is the "actual company that has the shirt manufacturing stuff, but its just camouflage. Camouflage to me is really part of my whole get up. It’s just who I am. I feel natural in it” (“19th Hole,” Golf Channel, 2/4).

    NOTES: Wheaties yesterday at the NBA Store in N.Y. unveiled a limited-edition commemorative box featuring Basketball HOFer Willis Reed. Wheaties traditionally honors a renowned African-American athlete during Black History Month (Wheaties)....Joe Gibbs Racing officials yesterday announced GameStop will return as a sponsor of the team's No. 20 NASCAR Nationwide Series Toyota, driven by Joey Logano for 20 races this season (, 2/4).

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