SBD/Issue 129/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

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  • Joe Gibbs Racing Finalizing Broad-Based Partnership With IMG

    J.D. Gibbs Says Deal Will Not Preclude Race
    Team From Working With Other Agencies
    Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) is "finalizing a broad-based relationship with IMG that will give the NASCAR team access to the agency's full range of sponsorship sales, measurement and activation capabilities," according to Michael Smith of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. JGR President J.D. Gibbs said that the agreement "will not preclude the race team from working with other agencies and their clients." It is "uncertain if IMG will eventually embed a salesperson in the Charlotte-based Gibbs Racing headquarters, as it did with the NHRA and typically does with its college clients." There is "not an ownership stake for IMG," and IMG Sports & Entertainment President George Pyne said that ownership is "not in IMG's plans." JGR and IMG did not disclose details of the agreement, but "typically they involve a retainer fee and a percentage of sales." Gibbs: "This adds a lot of value to JGR." He added, "We haven't detailed everything we're going to do together, but we'll brainstorm it and I'm looking forward to seeing where this will go. IMG has done a lot of neat things with ROI for their clients and we're looking to do more for our partners" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 3/23 issue).

    NASCAR NOT TURNING A BLIND EYE: JGR Owner Joe Gibbs said NASCAR “has their ear to the ground” in regards to the economic impact on the sport. Gibbs: “They’re talking to the teams. ... Of course, everybody’s No. 1 thought is how can we do this for less? You don’t want to put a burden on sponsors, and certainly in this kind of a business climate, it’s extremely tough.” Gibbs added, “NASCAR works. NASCAR is a great marketing tool. It’s only going to get better. But at the same time, it makes it tough for anybody dealing with corporations … right now.” He noted NASCAR “is focused on how do we save money, how do we make this sport as competitive as we can make it?” (“NASCAR Now,” ESPN2, 3/23).

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  • UFC's Georges St. Pierre Inks Deal For Gatorade's New "G" Campaign

    Gatorade Moves Into Canadian
    Market With St. Pierre Deal
    Gatorade is prepping to move into the Canada market by signing a "group of Canadian athletes to represent the brand," and UFC fighter Georges St. Pierre will be a "major part" of Gatorade's latest "G" campaign, according to Damon Martin of MMAWEEKLY.com. St. Pierre "will serve as one of the leaders to help push Gatorade in the newly branded market." Other athletes that will be part of the effort include Hockey HOFer Gordie Howe, former Canadian national women's hockey team member Cassie Campbell, wheelchair racer Chantal Petitclerc and marathon runner Ray Zahab. Martin wrote St. Pierre's addition to the campaign "can only be seen as a huge step forward for the marketing and advertising future" of MMA. The agreement between Gatorade and St. Pierre "signals the first MMA fighter to be involved with the popular sports drink brand," as well as a sign MMA fighters are "moving forward to being more widely recognized alongside other top athletes." St. Pierre "filmed his first commercial for Gatorade over the last week" (MMAWEEKLY.com, 3/22). SI.com's Josh Gross wrote of the new deal, "You can take the news as one more sign of MMA's growth, especially in fight-crazy Canada. ... I take this to mean elite fighters can -- and are beginning to -- transcend the sport (including the UFC) to a place where they'll be recognizable to mainstream audiences." Gatorade currently plan to air St. Pierre's ads only in Canada, but if the ads, which include "some of the biggest icons in sport, get shown in the U.S., it'll certainly be a boost to the 27-year-old St. Pierre, the UFC and to MMA, in general" (SI.com, 3/23).

    FEEL THE FLOW: SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Tripp Mickle reports Gatorade has reached a two-year deal to become the first title sponsor of Alli Sports' Free Flow Tour, which now will be known as the Gatorade Free Flow Tour. Sources valued the sponsorship "in the low seven figures." Under the deal, Gatorade also receives "activation rights at 50 summer competitions and 10 winter competitions, and it becomes the brand behind three half-hour shows about the Free Flow Tour on Fuel TV and will back a series of video shorts from the tour that will be featured on Fuel.tv and allisports.com." The partnership "completes Gatorade's push into action sports, which began in December" with the signing of three action sports athletes (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 3/23 issue).

    POWER PLAY: AD AGE's Natalie Zmuda reports Powerade is "undertaking a bold and innovative print and outdoor effort" that positions Gatorade "as only half the brand Powerade is." Powerade plans to "blitz the market with messaging that Gatorade is an inferior method of hydration, and says it has the science to back it up." Powerade and ad agency Ammirati, N.Y., have "developed a clever comparative campaign" pitting the brand against Gatorade, and Powerade has also worked closely with media partner Starcom MediaVest Group, N.Y., to "break new ground." Powerade "will take over the cover of the April 6 issue of ESPN The Magazine, marking the first time the publication has mingled editorial properties with advertising on its cover." ESPN/ABC Sports Customer Marketing & Sales President Ed Erhardt indicated that the cover concept, along with "seven- to 10-second video vignettes and a first-of-its-kind GameCast integration on mobile phones and ESPN.com, make for a compelling campaign." ESPN personalities "interview Powerade athletes in the vignettes, riffing off the 'complete sports drink' concept by asking the athletes to complete sentences." Powerade is also "running a digital effort, including a revamped website and banner ads" (AD AGE, 3/23 issue).

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  • Univ. Of Missouri Says High School Logo Similar To Its Tiger Logo

    UM Feels High School Logo
    Too Similar To Its Tiger
    After only one year with its new logo, the Harrisburg (SD) School District is "faced with finding a new tiger mascot to display on its jerseys and school walls," as the Univ. of Missouri (UM) "contacted the district recently with concerns that the Harrisburg tiger logo was 'confusingly similar' to its own tiger," according to Clinton Larson of the Sioux Falls ARGUS LEADER. Harrisburg Superintendent Jim Holbeck said that the district has "stopped using the logo on its Web site and stationery and will phase it out gradually on athletic jerseys." Holbeck said that Collegiate Licensing Co. (CLC), the licensing agent for UM, "contacted the school a couple of months ago about the logo and has been working with the district since to address the issue." Holbeck added that CLC has been "very cooperative in working with the district to make sure eliminating the logo is not a financial burden." Larson noted jerseys with the logo "will be able to go through the normal cycle of replacement -- about four years -- and the largest tiger, which appears in the center of the district's new football field, will be allowed to live out its 20-year lifespan." South Dakota High School Activities Association Exec Dir Wayne Carney said that he "doesn't remember any other school in the state having to change its logo in this type of situation." Holbeck said that Harrisburg "discussed several options including making slight changes to the tiger before deciding to create a new logo" (Sioux Falls ARGUS LEADER, 3/21).

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  • Too Much Like Mike: Falk Longs For Change In Marketing NBA Stars

    Falk Says Companies "Trying
    To Find The Next Michael"
    Sports agent David Falk appeared on Sports Business Radio Sunday to promote his book, “The Bald Truth,” and to discuss his career as a sports agent. Falk repped former NBAer Michael Jordan, and he said Jordan’s deal with Nike “jumpstarted -- no pun intended -- his marketing success.” Falk said of Jordan, “In everything he did … he did it as Michael Jordan. He wasn’t trying to be James Bond. He wasn’t trying to be a rapper. He wasn’t trying to be a movie star. He was just trying to be himself.” Falk noted companies currently are “trying to find the next Michael.” Falk: “The public and the kids see that and it sort of is manufactured. It’s not real. It is fun, but it’s not real.” Falk said of his initial marketing plan for Jordan being repeated for today’s athletes, “Twenty-five years later, it’s sort of like guys come out of school and want to know, Gatorade or Vitaminwater? Pepsi or Coke? Burger King or McDonalds? No one has really changed the blueprint. I’m looking for someone to come along and change the blueprint because it needs to be changed. Twenty-five years have gone by. The world has changed dramatically in 25 years. I think it’s time to have a new fresh approach to marketing.” Meanwhile, Falk also touched on the NBA’s age requirement and said he is pushing to increase the rule to keep players in college longer than the current minimum of one year. Falk: “We are about to enter March Madness. It is the single greatest advertisement for the NBA in the last 30 years. … It’s free. It costs the NBA zero. By allowing the players to bypass that system, it means that the players coming into the league are not nearly as well-known to the average fan” (SPORTSBUSINESSRADIO.com, 3/22).

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  • Marketplace Roundup

    Hester's Deal With Red Bull
    Includes Aircraft Rides
    In Chicago, Fred Mitchell reports Bears WR Devin Hester, as part of his new partnership with Red Bull, "originally agreed to ride in an 'acrobatic' helicopter that can perform flips" for an event on Thursday. But tornadoes yesterday along the East Coast "prevent[ed] the Red Bull stunt helicopter from leaving its base in Florida." Instead, the decision was made to have Hester "ride in an Albatross aircraft, which is capable of landing on lakes, rivers, oceans or runways." A Bears official said that the team's "contract concern regarding Hester's off-the-field activity with Red Bull depends on exactly what he winds up doing." Hester said, "Whenever you can get exposure, it only helps you" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 3/24).

    HUNGRY? WHY WAIT: In Orlando, Kyle Hightower notes Magic assistant coach Patrick Ewing is "being featured in a new Snickers candy-bar commercial as 'Patrick Chewing.'" Ewing "dons a wig to make him look like the younger Ewing from his playing days and dunks on some guy eating a Snickers bar." Ewing "tears down the basket before turning to his victim and saying simply 'Oops.'" Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said Magic players are "really hard on him about that commercial." Van Gundy: "Believe me, he gets imitated on that several times daily" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 3/24).

    SWEET SPOT: Golfer Trevor Immelman said of golf sponsors being criticized for their marketing spends while accepting TARP funds, "From what I understand, [PGA] Tour sponsors are pretty much set through the end of next year and then it's obviously going to be an interesting time. Hopefully, things have bounced back enough to where we can continue with the tremendous growth that we've had over the last few years." Immelman said he has been "fortunate to be involved with some incredibly strong companies" as an endorser. Despite the economy, Immelman said, "I feel like I'm in a nice, strong situation." Immelman: "As far as golf is concerned, everybody is taking some sort of hit. It's just the way the world is right now, but you're just going to have to sit it out and be strong" ("Power Lunch," CNBC, 3/23).

    SKIN GAME: YAHOO SPORTS' Jay Busbee wrote golfer Anna Rawson's new deal with GoDaddy is "good for Rawson, good for GoDaddy, good for the fact that the LPGA is getting recognition." Busbee: "I don't have a problem with golfers trading on their looks -- because it's a savvy marketing move, honest, that's what I meant -- though I'm sure there are purists out there who tut-tut the increasing sexualization of the Tour" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 3/23).

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