SBD/Issue 15/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

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  • Does He Or Does He Not? Vick/Nike Situation Puzzling Industry

    Nike Says It Does Not Have
    Endorsement Deal With Vick
    In the wake of a surprising announcement by Eagles QB Michael Vick’s representatives that he had signed an endorsement deal with Nike, and a rebuttal by the company that although it agreed to provide him with product, but did not have a contract him, many in the sports industry were left scratching their heads. Some in the industry questioned motives or criticized Blue Equity Sports Television Managing Dir Mike Principe, who unveiled the news a the Relay Sports Sponsorship Symposium in N.Y. in front of an audience of high-level sports marketing execs. Asked if Vick would ever get another commercial endorsement deal, Principe said: “He actually just became a Nike client. So he has a new deal with Nike which we are all very pleased about.” Others are wondering exactly what kind of relationship Nike has with Vick and who at the company agreed to provide him with product, without outlining the agreement in a contract. Meanwhile, industry sources said that Vick had a similar offer from another shoe company but turned it down because he has worn Nike since his days at Virginia Tech. Attempts to confirm the offer with other shoe companies were unsuccessful. Nike ended its endorsement of Vick in August '07 after he was indicted on federal dogfighting charges. Nike issued a statement Thursday saying, "Nike does not have a contractual relationship with Michael Vick. We have agreed to supply product to Michael Vick as we do a number of athletes who are not under contract with Nike." The company declined to answer a list of questions from SportsBusiness Journal.

    CONFUSED BY NIKE STATEMENT: The Nike statement left many in the industry puzzled, including agents who said Nike typically writes up contracts for product-only or merchandise-only deals with athletes. Agents requested anonymity, saying they did not want to offend Nike because they negotiate deals with the company. "They do contracts for their product-only Nike guys," said one agent. "If it's a merchandise-only deal, they absolutely do contracts." A contract that provides product only, valued at $25,000, for example, would often include incentive clauses for cash payments if the NFL player hit certain targets, such as playing in the Pro Bowl, this agent said. Another agent said Nike sends out tax Form 1099s to players with merchandise-only deals, as these deals often give the athlete and his family the ability to order Nike product for many different sports up to a set dollar amount. Yet another agent said that Nike does do deals without contracts for NFL players in which it provides only on-the-field product, but those contracts are reserved for very low-profile NFL players, such as the team's long-snapper or a player on the practice squad who later moves onto the regular roster. Such deals are often agreed to by the player himself and a Nike field rep. Vick's agent, Joel Segal of BEST, told SportsBusiness Journal on Wednesday that he negotiated the deal for Vick but would not provide any details. Segal did not return phone calls Thursday, nor did Principe.

    DOING THE BEST THEY CAN? Many in the industry praised the BEST agency for its efforts in getting Vick re-instated into the NFL, but questioned the release of the information about the new relationship with Nike. "The biggest mistake was made by the agent," said Sonny Vaccaro, a retired basketball sports marketing executive who has worked at Reebok, adidas and Nike. "By making a statement at that particular conference at that particular time made him what he wanted to be -- the star of the show." Many in the industry noted that this year has been the worst year ever for shoe deals for athletes and that many NFL and NBA players are going with product-only deals. Some speculated that the deal with Vick was for him to wear Nike without compensation, with the idea that he would get an endorsement contract later depending on his performance on and off the field.

  • Nike's Denial Of Vick Deal Shows He Still Needs To Rebuild Image

    Vick Had Endorsed Nike Up Until Indictment
    On Federal Dog Fighting Charges In '07
    Burns Sports & Entertainment CEO & COO Bob Williams said that Nike's denial of having a contract with Eagles QB Michael Vick "indicates how far Vick still has to go to rebuild his reputation," according to Katie Thomas of the N.Y. TIMES. Williams: "More time needs to pass. You want to be sure as an advertiser that Michael Vick is going to live by the new habits that he's created since leaving prison." Baker Street Partners VP & Exec Creative Dir Bob Dorfman said, "I don't see a lot of options for him, endorsement-wise. At this point, you could barely call him a B-level player. It just isn't worth it." But Williams said Nike "wants to maintain the relationship in case this is a great comeback story and he rehabilitates himself" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/2). ESPN's J.A. Adande said, "Nike kind of has a reputation of standing by their guys no matter what, even if they do adopt a renegade image. … I can see them continuing to use him as a product recipient, maybe not as a spokesman. You're not going to see the 'Michael Vick Experience' commercials anymore, but you will still see him outfitted in Nike gear" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 10/1).

    TO SIGN VICK OR NOT TO SIGN VICK: ESPN's Jim Rome said just because an endorsement deal between Nike and Vick has not been signed yet "doesn't mean it won't happen." Rome: "In fact, I'd be surprised if it doesn't happen. Nike is not a church or a governmental agency. Nike is a business -- big business -- and Vick, apparently, is still good for business" ("Jim Rome Is Burning," ESPN, 10/1). Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw: "They don't mind him wearing their product, they don't mind their product being on national TV." However, there "will not be Nike commercials." But ESPN's Jackie MacMullan said, "Michael Vick hasn't done anything yet on the football field to regain Nike's good graces" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 10/1). Carlos Diaz, a reporter for syndicated entertainment show "Extra," said, "The reason you sponsor and endorse someone is because you want someone to buy their products because they wear the shoe. Who's going to buy a product that Michael Vick wears? He's not the kind of person you want to emulate" ("Showbiz Tonight," CNN, 10/1).

    PLANTING THE SEED? ESPN's Michael Wilbon said of Vick's representatives stating they had a deal with Nike, "They want to make it seem like the runway is open now" ("PTI," ESPN, 10/1). CSN Mid-Atlantic’s Al Koken: “I think Nike’s testing the waters.” Washington Post reporter Jason Reid: I know Joel Segal and he’s not an idiot. The only person that would come out and say we have a deal if he didn’t have a deal with them would be an idiot. I think what happened is you get on these message boards and all of a sudden, people say we’re not going to buy Nike anymore. There’s no way that they said this and Joel Segal was just wrong about this" (“Washington Post Live,” CSN Mid-Atlantic, 10/1).

    LATE NIGHT LAUGHS: NBC's Conan O'Brien said, "Contrary to rumors, Nike says they are not, I repeat not, resuming their relationship with controversial quarterback Michael Vick. Also, rethinking their relationship with Michael Vick: Kibbles ‘n Bits" ("The Tonight Show," NBC, 10/1). ABC's Jimmy Kimmel said, "Nike said legally they wouldn't even be allowed to negotiate something like that until they figure out if it would conflict with the terms of his deal with Satan. ... His agent says he has a contract, Nike says he doesn't. It's the Odom-Kardashian wedding of endorsement deals." More Kimmel: "One thing we definitely know for sure is he will not be renewing his deal with Milk-Bone" ("Jimmy Kimmel Live," ABC, 10/1).

  • Hudson's Bay Co. Goes For Simpler Look For '10 Games Apparel

    HBC's Official Canadian Olympic Apparel
    Pared Down, Simple, With Slight Vintage Feel
    Hudson's Bay Co. (HBC) Thursday unveiled the official Canadian Olympic team clothing line for the '10 Vancouver Games, and the designs are “pared down and simple, with a slight vintage feel,” according to Derick Chetty of the TORONTO STAR. The look is a “far cry from the wildly graphic prints of Canadian and Chinese patterns the company used -- to much criticism -- for the Beijing Olympics.” HBC Fashion Dir Suzanne Timmins said that part of the “clean, spare look was inspired by the great Canadian graphic artists of the ‘60s and ‘70s” (TORONTO STAR, 10/2). The GLOBE & MAIL’s Rod Mickleburgh writes, “Gone were all signs of the off-beat, camouflage-style Olympic design that proved a merchandising flop for HBC around last year’s Summer Games.” HBC has “gone back to basics with an attractive, straight-forward clothing line that throws in a lot of black, in addition to Canada’s traditional Olympics colours of red and white.” HBC President & CEO Jeff Sherman: “We designed this so that people will feel good about wearing it leading up to the Olympics and long after. That did not happen in Beijing.” Mickleburgh  notes early indications are that the new products “will be a hit.” Hockey Canada Exec Dir Steve Yzerman: “It’s very stylish and very comfortable and easy to wear. You talk about pressure being on the Olympic team, there’s a lot of pressure on [HBC] to deliver the goods, as well, and they’ve done it.” Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) CEO Chris Rudge added, “This line of apparel screams ‘Canada’” (, 10/2).

    FASHION FORWARD? The GLOBE & MAIL’s Amy Verner writes HBC’s new line is “certainly a safer and more obvious direction than the cross-cultural mess that made the Beijing clothing such an embarrassment.” These are items that have been “designed to sell; even if some Canadians are left cold by the nostalgic knitwear, foreigners will likely regard the pieces as quaint and worth buying as stylish souvenirs.” Where the apparel “comes up short is originality.” Online feedback Thursday “suggested a mildly positive reaction to the collection, especially compared to the Summer 2008 clothes, which were largely unwearable” (GLOBE & MAIL, 10/2). Timmins said that she “thinks the must-have item will be the pom pom toque,” priced at C$20. Timmins: “I would love to see that everywhere” (CALGARY SUN, 10/2). Timmins said that “everything to be worn by Canadian athletes will be made in Canada; only 25[%] of the merchandise sold to consumers will be Canadian-made.” In Vancouver, Bruce Constantineau notes the total value of licensed Olympic merchandise worldwide is “expected to top the [C$500M] mark by the time the Games end, resulting in about [C$54M] in revenue for VANOC” (VANCOUVER SUN, 10/2). The GLOBE & MAIL’s Marina Strauss notes HBC has priced the clothing about 20-25% “lower than items produced for the 2006 Winter Games in Torino.” Charlton Strategic Research Inc. President Gordon Hendren said that 11% of Canadians “reported buying Canadian Olympics merchandise” during the Beijing Games, down from 17% for Torino. Hendren said of HBC, “They clearly missed the mark in the past two Games. This is a big one. What’s at stake here is much bigger than it was in the past” (GLOBE & MAIL, 10/2).

    Canada's Liberal Party Says Olympic Logo (l)
    Too Similar To Conservative Party's Logo (r)
    PLAYING POLITICS: CANWEST NEW SERVICE’s David Akin notes Canada’s Liberal Party charged that the official logo that will adorn ’10 Olympic clothing “bears a too-striking resemblance to the logo of the Conservative Party of Canada.” However, Canadian Minister of State for Sport Gary Lunn said that any resemblance “was coincidental.” Lunn: “I can assure you that no one in the government of Canada was involved in any way, shape or form in the design of any of the Olympic clothing. In fact the first time I saw it was (Wednesday).” COC Media Relations Manager Isabelle Hodge added, “There’s absolutely no connection whatsoever, with the logo we unveiled and any political logo” (CANWEST NEWS SERVICE, 10/2). Yzerman, when told the logo on an HBC T-shirt he was sporting looked like the Conservative Party logo, said, “I don’t know anything about politics. I don’t even know what the Conservative Party logo looks like. It’s more a blend between the Vancouver Canucks and the Calgary Flames logo, to me” (VANCOUVER PROVINCE, 10/2).

    AMERICAN INFLUENCE: The VANCOUVER SUN’s Constantineau notes the home base for Canada’s Olympic team during the ’10 Games will sit within a building that “features nine massive exterior banners of U.S. athletes.” IOC TOP sponsors Visa, which is responsible for 15 of the 32 banners, “chose to feature nine U.S. athletes and six Canadian Olympians.” HBC features Canadian athletes on all of its 17 banners. COC Dir of Communications Steve Keogh said that the COC “doesn’t have a problem with competing athletes adorning the building’s exterior” (VANCOUVER SUN, 10/2). Visa Canada Acting Head of Corporate Communications Amy Cole said that the banners are “part of the company’s ‘Go World’ campaign.” Cole: “They profile members of Team Visa, which is a global program” (Vancouver PROVINCE, 10/2).

  • Samsung Not Returning As Title Sponsor Of LPGA Event

    Samsung Drops Title Sponsorship
    Of LPGA Event At Torrey Pines
    Samsung will not return in '10 as title sponsor of the LPGA Samsung World Championship, a limited field event owned and operated by IMG since '80. The tournament, held September 17-20 at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego, had been sponsored by Samsung since '95.Sources said IMG will begin actively seeking new potential title sponsors. IMG does not have a contract with the LPGA to run the event in '10. The LPGA, which has contractual or verbal agreements with 18 tournaments for next year's schedule, is expecting in the neighborhood of 25 events in '10, down from the 31 that were originally planned for this season and 34 in '08. Three tournaments on the '09 schedule have formally announced they will not return next season: the SBS Open in Hawaii, the Corning Classic in New York, and the Michelob Ultra Classic in Virginia.

  • Jersey Score: Favre Stays Atop NFL List; Kobe Tops In Europe

    Vikings QB Brett Favre's No. 4 jersey was the top seller at from April 1-September 30. Jets QB Mark Sanchez rose to the No. 4 spot after ranking No. 7 on the list for the April 1-August 28 period. Notably, six of the seven starting QBs for teams that are currently 3-0 -- Favre, Sanchez, Drew Brees, Ravens Joe Flacco, Eli Manning and Peyton Manning -- rank in the top 25 (NFL).

    RK   RK  
    1 Vikings QB Brett Favre 14 Ravens QB Joe Flacco
    2 Steelers S Troy Polamalu 15 Steelers WR Hines Ward
    3 Bears QB Jay Cutler 16 Packers QB Aaron Rodgers
    4 Jets QB Mark Sanchez 17 Saints QB Drew Brees
    5 Eagles QB Michael Vick 18 Falcons QB Matt Ryan
    6 Cowboys QB Tony Romo 19 Chargers RB LaDainian Tomlinson
    7 Giants QB Eli Manning 20 Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald
    8 Patriots QB Tom Brady 21 Giants RB Brandon Jacobs
    9 Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger 22 49ers LB Patrick Willis
    10 Vikings RB Adrian Peterson 23 Cowboys RB Marion Barber
    11 Colts QB Peyton Manning 24 Eagles RB Brian Westbrook
    12 Bills WR Terrell Owens 25 49ers RB Frank Gore
    13 Cowboys TE Jason Witten    

    HOOP IT UP: Lakers G Kobe Bryant's No. 24 jersey was the top selling NBA jersey in Europe during the '08-09 season. Eight of the top 15 players on the list are from Europe. Meanwhile, Sparks F Candace Parker's No. 3 jersey was the top-selling WNBA jersey at the NBA Store and during the '09 regular season (NBA). ESPN's Michael Wilbon said of Bryant having the highest-selling jersey in Europe and Asia for the second year in a row, "I think LeBron's got the United States. But Europe and Asia, Kobe owning it" ("PTI," ESPN, 10/1). The following lists the top 10 NBA jerseys in Europe and the top 10 WNBA jerseys

    1 Lakers G Kobe Bryant 1 Sparks F Candace Parker
    2 Celtics F Kevin Garnett 2 Sparks F Lisa Leslie
    3 Lakers C Pau Gasol 3 Silver Stars G Becky Hammon
    4 Cavaliers F LeBron James 4 Mercury F Diana Taurasi
    5 Heat G Dwyane Wade 5 Liberty F Shameka Christon
    6 Spurs G Tony Parker 6 Liberty G Essence Carson
    7 Magic C Dwight Howard 7 Storm G Sue Bird
    8 Raptors F Andrea Bargnani 8 Liberty C Janel McCarville
    9 Raptors G Jose Calderon 9 Dream F Angel McCoughtry
    10 Celtics F Paul Pierce 10 Shock G Deanna Nolan

  • Marketplace Roundup

    Subway Says Deal With
    NBC Sports A First
    Subway CMO Tony Pace said that the QSR's new marketing partnership with NBC Sports is "not the first with NBC, but it is the most comprehensive." Pace, whose company previously has worked with entertainment programs like "The Biggest Loser," said, "This is the first time we have done a deal with this scope within the sports arena." He said that the partnership "developed from conversations" with NBC execs, including Sports & Olympics Chair Dick Ebersol. Pace: "We talked about the fact that there are lots of things we have a shared interest in, and that this was a way of doing something bigger for both of us" (MARKETING DAILY, 10/2).

    THE POWER OF CHEESE: Packers WR Greg Jennings has signed on as a spokesperson for A&W Restaurants in Wisconsin, and "soon will be featured in television commercials and billboards promoting the chain's new Snack Bite Pack," among other promotions. The restaurant made a $10,000 donation to Jennings' foundation (GREEN BAY PRESS-GAZETTE, 10/2).

    ROUNDUP: MLB plans to feature Twins C Joe Mauer in its national TV ad effort, airing a spot that is "expected to include video of Mauer as a youngster playing in St. Paul" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 10/2)....NFL Players Inc. recently released the NFL Players Caricature line, its first exclusively licensed collection featuring illustrations of NFL players on various products, including T-shirts, mugs and water bottles. There are 17 NFLers featured in the collection (NFL Players).

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