SBD/Issue 150/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

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  • Shoeless Matt: Draft Prospects Yet To Sign Any Footwear Deals

    Crabtree Among Draft Prospects
    Yet To Sign Footwear Deal
    Two days before the '09 NFL Player Draft there have been as many sneaker deals signed for the upcoming crop of collegiate talent as there have rookies selected: zero. Across the sports marketing landscape, it is as dead as anyone can remember when it comes to endorsement deals from athletic apparel/sneaker brands for the latest class of NFL freshman. In some prior years, 10 or more deals have been signed by draft week. "There hasn't been a single player signed [to a footwear deal] and I only know of one deal being offered," said agent Mike Ornstein, who is representing Michael Crabtree, one of the Draft's top WR prospects. "No one can believe it, but we don't have a deal done and neither does anyone else." The main culprit, as might be expected, is the economy. "It's dead quiet right now for footwear deals for rookies now compared to this time before the draft any other year," said DeBartolo Sports & Entertainment's Reed Bergman, whose firm reps RB prospect Chris Wells. "And its 100% the economy. We're all hoping that changes after the draft, but it's very tight right now." Numerous industry sources said the decline in retail traffic and footwear sales forced Nike to slash its football marketing budget by $3-4M. With Nike still looking to re-sign some of its incumbent NFL endorsers, including Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald and Saints QB Drew Brees, there is scant attention being given to rookie deals. Most footwear companies have just experienced similar budget cuts. "I've got the checkbook, its just not open," said a senior marketer for one of country's biggest athletic footwear/apparel brands. Under Armour VP/Brand Steve Battista added, "There are three to five good stories in the Draft, but we've never been a company that waves tons of money at players. I don't see that changing this year."

    COMPANIES NOT SHOWING MUCH INTEREST: Many agents and footwear marketers were unwilling to talk on the record about the depressed rookie market. However, there was unanimity that footwear companies were showing less interest in draft prospects than at any time in memory. "Nike and Reebok have decided what Coke and Pepsi did several years ago," said an agent for a player who is a likely top-three pick. "They can't afford to bid each other into oblivion." In a draft where a skill player may not be the first overall pick, Illinois-based Burns Entertainment & Sports Marketing President Doug Shabelman said, "No one sees a Reggie Bush/gotta have guy in this draft, as far as an endorser." Shabelman: "There's a general freeze when it comes to athlete endorsements, but the absence of footwear deals, which is where you've often seen the first money being spent on NFL rookies, is another indicator that there's a bit of a stop sign on the sports economy."

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  • Dustin Pedroia To Appear In Dunkin' Donuts' Latest Ad Campaign

    Pedroia The Latest Boston-Area Sports
    Celeb To Star Dunkin' Donuts Campaign
    Dunkin' Donuts yesterday announced that Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia will star in its new ad campaign around the brand's "Turbo Boost" promotion. In a new ad titled, "Dustin and Goliath," Pedroia battles a pinstriped giant on a biblical baseball field. Other Boston-area sports figures who have worked with Dunkin’ Donuts in the past include Red Sox P Jonathan Papelbon, former MLBer Curt Schilling and Patriots QB Tom Brady and LB Tedy Bruschi. The ad was created by Hill Holliday, Boston, and debuted yesterday (Dunkin' Donuts). NESN featured a behind-the-scenes look at the filming of the ad during the first game of yesterday's Twins-Red Sox doubleheader (THE DAILY). The BOSTON HERALD reports Fenway Park "will host the Dunkin' Donuts Red Sox Turbo Shot Coffee Break tomorrow." Boston-area contest winners "will get to have breakfast featuring Dunkin' Donuts menu items at Fenway Park's State Street Pavilion with Pedroia and Red Sox manager Terry Francona." NESN's Tom Caron "will moderate a question-and-answer session with Pedroia and Francona." Afterwards, winners "will get a private tour of Fenway Park" (BOSTON HERALD, 4/23).

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  • Sponsors May Force McLaren To Leave F1 If Team Handed Suspension

    McLaren Mercedes Could Be Forced To
    Pull Out Of F1 If FIA Doles Out Stiff Suspension
    McLaren Mercedes "could be forced to pull out of Formula One if they are handed a suspension or a 'disproportionately large' penalty" during the FIA world council meeting next week in Paris, according to Tom Cary of the London TELEGRAPH. Agents "acting on behalf of key sponsors" have approached both the FIA and F1 Management Chair Bernie Ecclestone "to impress upon them the gravity of the situation" if McLaren is suspended. The team has been called to the hearing to "answer five charges that they lied to race stewards in Australia and Malaysia -- cheating Toyota out of third place -- and procured world champion Lewis Hamilton into supporting that deception." A source said, "I can say that if a disproportionately large penalty were given to McLaren on April 29 then the sponsor that I am associated with might leave." Cary notes McLaren Exec Chair Ron Dennis left the team last week in a "thinly-veiled attempt to placate the FIA," and the source said, "I think we all know the subtext here; the FIA wanted to oust Ron Dennis." The source: "I believe the governing body have allowed this situation to escalate and it is doing no one any good. ... Apart from anything else, it is dissuading other potential sponsors from entering Formula One." Cary reports a two-race suspension for McLaren could mean the team would be "ruled out of the Barcelona and Monaco grands prix." Spain is a "key market for Banco de Santander, one of McLaren-Mercedes' major sponsors, while Monaco is the most important race of the season from a sponsor's perspective." Should McLaren be found guilty, it would mark the second time in three years the team has been "found guilty of bringing the sport into disrepute." It also would activate "clauses in the contracts of the team's major sponsors," including Vodafone and Diageo, that would "allow them to walk away from McLaren" (TELEGRAPH.co.uk, 4/23).

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  • MLB Teams With Walt Disney For "G-Force" All-Star Promotion

    MLB has teamed with Walt Disney Pictures and Jerry Bruckheimer Films to promote the July 24 release of the 3D movie “G-Force” during the July 14 All-Star Game at Busch Stadium. If a grand slam is hit during the All-Star Game, the first million people registering on Disney.com beginning yesterday will win a free ticket to see the film on its first day of release. The movie is the first to promote its debut during the All-Star Game since Disney’s “Angels In The Outfield” in ’94. “G-Force” also will serve as the exclusive sponsor of in-ballpark All-Star balloting. In addition, 29 MLB teams will host “Walt Disney Pictures ‘G-Force’ Days,” which will include “G-Force” trading card giveaways and movie ticket/prize pack giveaways (MLB). MLB Senior VP/Corporate Sales & Marketing John Brody said that Disney will have “G-Force” branding on “ballot boxes, banners and announcements in the stadium, the ‘G-Force’ logo on the ballots, full-panel movie ads showing two 'G-Force' characters and half-panel ads with info on the sweepstakes.” Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures President of Marketing Jim Gallagher said the studio also is “working with ESPN to develop a program that will ramp up and culminate with their coverage of All Star weekend and the Home Run Derby” (MEDIAPOST.com, 4/22).

    LEARNING FROM THE PAST: AD AGE’s Rich Thomaselli noted the promotion “comes five years after MLB’s disastrous agreement with Sony Pictures to put the logo for ‘Spider-Man 2’ on all the bases at every ballpark the weekend before the movie opened in June 2004.” Within days of the "Spider-Man" announcement, “fans and purists denounced the plan to put the ads on the bases, and the promo was killed.” Brody said, “We have tremendous respect for the game and we do not want to take away from that. The Spider-Man project had a lot of great ideas; this project has great ideas but is different from that.” Brody said when discussions began with Walt Disney Pictures, the “idea of the movie and the All-Star Game just kind of found each other. It met the necessities for us -- it’s a family film, and we believe we are a family entertainment property -- and as we went along, the different layers just kept making sense” (ADAGE.com, 4/22).

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  • Brand Integration Continues On NBA Telecasts; Is It Too Much?

    Barkley Touts Fox' "X-Men Origins:  
    Wolverine" In Promo For "Inside The NBA"
    NBA fans seemingly "can't watch a game without a brand being thrust" at them, and the brand saturation could be "wearing down on viewers who might just want to tune in for a couple hours of relief," according to Andrew Hampp of AD AGE. TNT's brand integrations throughout the '08-09 season and during the NBA Playoffs "have prompted more than a few raised eyebrows from the blogosphere," but they have had "no discernible impact on TNT's ratings, which are up this season to an average 1.5 million viewers, nearly a third of which were men 18-34." Hampp noted BlackBerry during TNT's playoff coverage will "sponsor a series of vignettes featuring NBA analyst Reggie Miller encouraging fans to answer questions by using one of the devices." AutoTrader.com, Charles Schwab and Goodyear also all sponsor in-game segments. Meanwhile, 20th Century Fox is touting the upcoming "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" film in a promo for TNT's "Inside the NBA," during which analyst Charles Barkley "develops claws like those" on the title character. Turner Sports Exec VP/Ad Sales & Marketing Jon Diament said that deals "continue to be structured with a keen focus on engagement without too much disruption." Diament: "We want to team up with our clients to make sure the integration is very natural for the fan. ... When you see all these sponsorship elements, some of them are actually funny, so it makes for a fun experience of watching an NBA game" (ADAGE.com, 4/21).

    ADVERTISING HOLDING STEADY: MEDIA LIFE MAGAZINE's Kevin Downey reported NBA advertisers through February spent $125M on games, down slightly from $128M a year ago, a "decent showing considering the major cutbacks by domestic automakers." And for the postseason, analysts and media buyers "expect enough demand from other categories to offset the cuts by Detroit." Horizon Media VP & Dir of National Television David Campanelli: "I've been hearing they'll be flat -- similar dollars coming off a very strong year last year." Downey noted ad demand "had been good despite the economy largely because advertisers are feeling good about the game." Sports Business Group President David Carter: "You have the opportunity for big-market teams to make a strong run and major players like [Cavaliers F LeBron James against Lakers G Kobe Bryant] in the finals." Downey noted there also is a "prevailing sense that because of the economy people are staying home to watch games on TV, rather than paying for out-of-home entertainment" (MEDIALIFEMAGAZINE.com, 4/21).

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  • EA Sports Narrows Possible "Madden" Cover Athletes To Nine

    Polamalu One Of Nine Finalists For
    "Madden NFL 10" Cover
    EA Sports has announced the nine finalists to appear on the cover of the "Madden NFL 10" videogame, with the cover athlete to be announced tomorrow. The finalists are Steelers S Troy Polamalu, Colts QB Peyton Manning, Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald, Chiefs QB Matt Cassel, Cowboys LB DeMarcus Ware, Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, Giants RB Brandon Jacobs, Vikings RB Adrian Peterson and Ravens S Ed Reed (EA Sports). FANHOUSE.com's Bruce Ciskie wrote, "I would be shocked if Polamalu and his wild hair weren't the choice. Not only is he one of the best players in the NFL, but he'll also make a great representative for the game. He's very recognizable among the younger demographic EA targets with these games" (FANHOUSE.com, 4/21).

    READY TO RUMBLE: "Madden NFL 10" will kick off the season with the Madden NFL 10 Draft Experience exclusively at MaddenNFL.easports.com Saturday afternoon at 3:30pm ET. The Web site will feature a live, streaming draft analysis show produced from Madden NFL HQs in Orlando that will be co-hosted by CBS' Shannon Sharpe. The show will feature several interactive elements, including live call-ins from Bears RB Matt Forte and Eagles WR DeSean Jackson, and commentary from draft correspondents in N.Y. (EA Sports).

    GOING FOR IT ON FOURTH DOWN: With former USC QB Mark Sanchez, former Univ. of Texas DE Brian Orakpo and former Utah QB Brian Johnson all announced as being on the cover of various editions of EA Sports' "NCAA Football 10," FIRSTCUTS' Chris Littmann reported an image has "emerged with Michael Crabtree -- not Percy Harvin -- on the cover for the Xbox 360 edition" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 4/22). PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Aaron Wilson earlier on Wednesday reported Harvin, the former Univ. of Florida WR, would be the final cover athlete. But Wilson today wonders whether EA Sports is "wary of being associated with Harvin due to him allegedly testing positive for marijuana at the NFL Scouting Combine" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 4/23).

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  • Marketplace Roundup

    UA Will Title Sponsor All 25 Of Cal
    Ripken Jr.'s Youth Baseball Tournaments
    Under Armour (UA) and Ripken Baseball yesterday formally unveiled a five-year partnership that makes UA the official uniform provider for Ripken Baseball. Under the deal, the Single-A New York-Penn League Aberdeen IronBirds will become the "first professional baseball team outfitted" by UA. The deal also makes UA the title sponsor of all 25 Ripken youth baseball tournaments, attended by a combined 35,000 young players (BIZJOURNALS.com, 4/22). Baseball HOFer Cal Ripken said Ripken Baseball's youth teams "will be a 'feedback arm'" for UA's "research and development" (Baltimore SUN, 4/23).

    LAX APPEAL: A-B InBev and Major League Lacrosse (MLL) have agreed to a two-year extension of their deal in which Bud Light will continue as the exclusive alcohol beverage and non-alcohol malt beverage of the MLL, its six teams, the MLL All-Star Game and postseason. Bud Light also will remain the title sponsor of the All-Star Game's skills competition, as well as the Bud Light regular-season and postseason MVP awards (MLL).

    SMELLING LIKE A ROSE: The NBA yesterday began selling at NBAStore.com its official adidas T-shirt commemorating Bulls G Derrick Rose for the '08-09 Rookie of the Year Award. In conjunction with the announcement, T-Mobile, which sponsors the award, is donating $60,000 to various youth communities in Phoenix as part of the T-Mobile Rookie program. Phoenix hosted the NBA All-Star Game in February (THE DAILY).

    PANNING FOR GOLD: Cash4Gold has signed a deal with the Bucks that designates it as the team's "No.1 gold buyer." The deal includes Bradley Center signage and radio spots during Bucks broadcasts. Cash4Gold CEO Jeff Aronson said that the partnership was a multi-year deal, though team VP/Business Operations John Steinmiller said it only goes through "at least next year" (JSONLINE.com, 4/22).

    BIG DISCOUNT: In K.C., Randy Covitz reported NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team Billy Ballew Motorsports is "making a one-time offer, good only" for Saturday's O'Reilly 250 at Kansas Speedway, in which full sponsorship of the team's No. 15 truck, "which normally would cost $150,000, is available for just $25,000." The sponsorship "would also include an associate sponsorship" on the No. 51 truck, in which driver Kyle Busch has won two of the last three Truck Series races (K.C. STAR, 4/22).

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