SBD/Issue 202/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

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  • Nike Says Dunk Over LeBron Not Reason For Confiscating Tapes

    Nike and Cavaliers F LeBron James yesterday denied a report claiming that officials from Nike’s LeBron James Skills Academy "confiscated tapes from two videographers" because James had been dunked on by Xavier Univ. G Jordan Crawford during a pickup game, according to Brian Windhorst of the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER. Nike said that “taking the tapes had nothing to do with the dunk and more to do with the violation of the media procedures of the event.” The James Skills Academy is made up of top high school and college players and is "open to the media.”  There are often pickup games after those sessions in which James and some Cavaliers teammates play where the media is “permitted to watch but not permitted to do interviews or film.” Nike Media Relations Manager KeJuan Wilkins said, “Unfortunately, for the first time in four years, two journalists did not respect our ‘no videotaping’ policy at an after-hours pick-up game.” Nike officials said that both journalists who took footage of the action “understood the mistake and handed over their tapes without making a fuss” (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 7/9).

    TALE OF THE TAPE: Freelance photographer Ryan Miller, one of the cameramen shooting the pick-up game, said that Nike Basketball Senior Dir Lynn Merritt “took his tape.” Miller: “He just said, ‘We have to take your tape.’ They took it from other guys, too.” Miller said James “called Lynn over and told him something” just minutes before Merritt demanded his tape (, 7/7). Miller, who was shooting for ESPNU, said, “He told me the session was off-limits for shooting. He said that I couldn’t shoot, and he actually said, ‘It’s not right to shoot these guys when they’re not in shape or they’re getting in shape for the season.’” In N.Y., Pete Thamel noted Nike officials “sent a warning to campers and the news media -- what happens at LeBron’s Camp stays at LeBron’s Camp” (, 7/8). Miller added, "The worst part is I'm not even sure I had the shot of the dunk. They might have taken it for no reason" (, 7/8).

    James, Nike Deny Tape
    Confiscated Over Dunk
    WITNESS PROTECTION: Miami Herald columnist Dan Le Batard said Nike is “behaving like a North Korean dictator.” ESPN’s J.A. Adande: “You should not be in the business of taking people’s newsgathering materials, whether they’re journalists, whether they’re bloggers, whatever they are. We should be encouraging freedom to report” (“PTI,” ESPN, 7/8). ESPN's Scott Van Pelt: "LeBron's now reached a point where he's a brand, it's his name on the camp, and can say, 'We're not letting that video get out.' … You didn't want it to get out but it gets out like this, and it's way worse in my opinion" ("The Scott Van Pelt Show," ESPN2, 7/8). YAHOO SPORTS’s Chris Chase wrote, “This is a classic ‘he said/she said’ battle and I doubt we’ll ever get conclusive proof one side was right and one side was wrong. If you don’t like LeBron, you’ll use this as another reason to rag on him come NBA season. If you’re a LeBron fan, then Nike’s logical excuse is what you’ll believe" (, 7/8).

    MARKETING OPPORTUNITY? THE SPORTING BLOG's Dan Shanoff writes never "underestimate Nike's ... marketing skills." Shanoff: "Expect to see the footage from that tape show up in a TV ad next season -- promoting LeBron" (, 7/9).’s Jackie MacMullan: “I have a feeling this tape is going to show up somewhere because the minute all the bad publicity starts filling in, LeBron is savvy enough and smart enough to say, ‘You know what fellas, release it anyway’” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 7/8).

  • MLS Real Salt Lake Renews Jersey Deal With XanGo Through '13

    MLS Real Salt Lake (RSL) has renewed its jersey partnership with mangosteen beverage company XanGo through the '13 season. Sources put the value of the deal at $1M annually. The previous sponsorship, signed in '06, was worth approximately $750,000 a year. The renewal will see Utah-based XanGo maintain its position on the front of RSL's jersey. It also receives signage, entitlement rights to the XanGo Cup international exhibition every summer and promotional rights at Rio Tinto Stadium. XanGo was the first company to sign a jersey-front sponsorship with an MLS team when it completed its deal with RSL in November '06 (Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal). RSL President Bill Manning: "Financially, it's very important for us to have a jersey-front sponsor and to have that kind of dedication for another four seasons. Secondly, from a branding standpoint, it's very important we have the same company on our jersey front for another four years" (DESERET NEWS, 7/9).

    RSL Jersey Deal With XanGo Valued At $1M Annually

  • MLB Finalizes Promotional Giveaways For All-Star Game Events

    Festivities Include Taco-Bell Entitled All-Star
    Sunday, Monday's State Farm Home Run Derby
    With the starting rosters of its All-Star teams set, MLB has also finalized its lineup of promotional giveaways for next week's festivities in St. Louis. For the Taco Bell-entitled All-Star Sunday, which includes the XM-entitled All-Star Futures Game, and All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game, the QSR is reprising the giveaway to all fans of a ticket holder and lanyard, fashioned after one of its restaurant hot-sauce packets. For Monday's State Farm Home Run Derby, it will be the insurer's turn to sponsor a branded ticket holder and lanyard. During Tuesday's All-Star Game, State Farm will underwrite a premium that is a Super Bowl standard: seat cushions, which in this case will carry State Farm and MLB All-Star Game logos. "They're still a fan favorite," insisted MLB Senior VP/Corporate Sales & Marketing John Brody. Since Disney is offering a free opening-day ticket for its movie "G-Force" on July 24 to everyone in Busch Stadium if a grand slam is hit, fans entering the ballpark will receive a card telling them how to collect those tickets. The same reward is being offered by Disney to the first million fans registering online for the promotion. Unfortunately, there has been only one grand slam in 75 years of MLB All-Star Games. Fans at the game will also receive a 24-page custom publishing piece from MLB, commemorating People magazine's All-Stars Among Us contest, which spotlights outstanding community service, the winner of which is being unveiled that night. The piece will include ads for Stand Up To Cancer; Going Beyond, the MLB All-Star Game charity and community-service initiative; and United We Serve, the federal community service program.

  • ESPN Feature Table At WSOP Attracts Publicity, Profitability

    Players At ESPN Feature Table Earn Average
    Of $10,000 For Displaying Company Logos
    The ESPN feature table at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) in Las Vegas is "not only one of the most recognized pieces of felt in the poker world, but it is also one of the most profitable," according to Steve Silver of the LAS VEGAS SUN. Most poker players "relish a chance to sit at the feature table due to some unique sponsorship deals," as a "simple patch or sticker placed in the right spot can lead to thousands of dollars when in front of ESPN's cameras." A player at the feature table "earns an average of $10,000 for displaying a company's logo on their clothing, which is most often online gaming Web sites such as Pokerstars, Full Tilt or Ultimate Bet." spokesperson Matt Clark: "It is all about brand exposure. We are the largest online poker room in the world and the exposure on ESPN can only help us grow." The WSOP "does govern the use of logos, however, by enforcing a rule that states players cannot drastically alter their appearance once play begins each day." Players can "put on or take off jackets, but they cannot, for instance, change into a sponsor's gear while heading to the feature table." With such "massive dollar amounts swirling around a single table, 'poker agents' have started to try to cash in on these lucrative sponsorship deals mid-action." These agents "try to spot amateur or unsponsored players with large chip stacks during the final days of an event and sign them in hopes of that player garnering the attention of ESPN's cameras." But most agents "try to negotiate deals prior to the start of a tournament." Las Vegas-based Poker Royalty President James Sullivan, whose company reps "more than 20 top poker professionals," said, "Our job is to negotiate the best deals for our clients while they focus on the cards. The general public might not realize poker players have agents, but these are professionals. This is their livelihood" (LAS VEGAS SUN, 7/9).

  • Marketplace Roundup

    Was Federer's Post-Wimbledon
    Jacket A Bit Too Flashy?'s Jon Wertheim wrote Roger Federer's tennis "might be incomparable but his accessorizing leaves a lot to be desired." Wertheim: "I'll join the many of you who wrote in critiquing Federer's ridiculous attire. ... The piece de resistance ... was that '15' jacket Federer donned immediately after winning Sunday's final, an article of clothing that simultaneously managed to be presumptuous, self-aggrandizing and sensationally tacky." Wertheim wondered, "Who exactly is tasked with Federer's image these days? Why does this person have a job? And why is Federer allowing Nike's agenda to undercut an image that, much like his old attire, needed no further ornamentation? ... Whose bright idea was it to transform that thoroughly likable guy into King Bling? Did the Nike marketing data really indicate that kids would warm to all those elitist touches?" (, 7/8).

    OPTIMAL ADDITION: Gillette has added NASCAR driver Joey Logano to its group of Gillette Young Gun Drivers, joining Clint Bowyer, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Kasey Kahne and Ryan Newman. Logano recently participated in the filming of a new ad featuring all seven Gillette Young Guns in support of the Gillette Optimal Shave indicator strip. The 30-second spot, via BBDO, N.Y., will begin airing during TNT's coverage of Saturday's Sprint Cup Series 400 from Chicagoland Speedway (THE DAILY).

    DEERE TO THEIR HEARTS: In Chicago, Teddy Greenstein notes Deere & Co.'s sponsorship of the PGA Tour John Deere Classic expires after the '10 event, and if the company "pulls out -- it's expected to decide by March -- several cities along the Illinois-Iowa border could be the big losers." The tournament, which tees off today, "generates about [$20-25M] a year for the local economy, and last year it raised" $4.79M for 500 local charities. Deere & Co. officials would not comment on the annual sponsorship cost, but sources estimated that the deal costs $6-8M annually, which covers 60% of the $4.3M purse, as well as "advertising buys on CBS and Golf Channel, corporate hospitality and a chartered jet that transports players, spouses and caddies to the following week's British Open" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 7/9).

    OLYMPIC PLANE: Air Canada yesterday unveiled a '10 Vancouver Olympics-themed Boeing 777 aircraft that features a 53-meter long graphic design with the same blue and green images seen on Olympic posters, tickets and the VANOC Web site. The illustrations include snowboard parallel giant slalom, hockey and cross-country skiing on one side, and alpine skiing, ice sledge hockey and ski jumping on the other. The plane will enter service on July 16 and fly to Asian and European destinations (Air Canada).

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