SBD/Issue 72/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

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  • CBS' SB XLIV Ad Sales Said To Be Healthier Than NBC's Olympic Sales

    NBC will not disclose how much ad inventory it has left for the Winter Olympics in February, but “ad buyers estimate it still has” 20-30% to go, according to Holly Sanders Ware of the N.Y. POST. The Winter Games are expected to boost U.S. ad spending, “but not as much as in years past.” According to research by Magna, the Vancouver Games will boost U.S. ad revenue by $487.5M in '10, down 25% from $650M during the '06 Winter Olympics. Ad buyers “blame the battered economy and the bad hand NBC was dealt when several major sponsors” of the USOC did not renew deals, taking away dedicated buyers. Optimedia Exec VP & Dir of National Electronic Media Larry Novenstern: "NBC had to start from scratch this year. I think they have done a good job, considering." NBC, which paid $820M in '03 for the rights to the Games, “concedes sales are behind projections and said it expects to lose as much” as $200M. CBS is “faring better” with ad sales for Super Bowl XLIV, but “not as well as the network would like everyone to believe.” The net said it has sold about 90% of its inventory, with 30-second spots selling for close to $3M. CBS “insists it hasn't cut prices, but ad buyers tell a different story.” One ad buyer said, "They are putting a rosy picture on it. You could be paying more than last year, but you buy a package of units, not just the Super Bowl" (N.Y. POST, 12/28).

  • MLS Sues Black & Decker Over "Ambush Marketing" Campaign

    MLS, SUM Claim DeWalt Tried
    To Confuse Fans
     MLS has “filed suit against Black & Decker Corp. saying an ‘ambush marketing’ campaign by its DeWalt power tools division aimed at Hispanic soccer fans violated the league’s trademarks and falsely advertised an official connection by the tool maker to the league,” according to Gary Haber of the BALTIMORE BUSINESS JOURNAL. The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in N.Y. by MLS and Soccer United Marketing (SUM), the league's licensing subsidiary, says DeWalt “tried to confuse soccer fans into thinking it was a league sponsor.” The suit “alleges DeWalt did this by setting up booths, without authorization, to advertise its products at MLS-sponsored matches featuring the Mexican national team in San Diego, Los Angeles and Houston in 2008 and 2009.” It also claims that DeWalt “used MLS logos in promotional flyers and gave away tickets to Mexican national team exhibition matches to purchasers of its tools, all in violation of MLS’ exclusive power tools sponsorship with Makita, a DeWalt competitor.” N.Y.-based law firm Levine, Sullivan, Koch & Schulz LLP is representing MLS and SUM in the case (, 12/24).

  • Li Ning To Open First Showroom In U.S. Under Subsidiary

    Li Ning Set To Open First U.S. Store
    In Oregon In January
    The fast-growing Chinese athletic shoe and clothing maker Li Ning “will open its first” U.S. store in Nike's backyard on Jan. 4, according to the AP. Beijing-based Li Ning.'s products are available at more than 6,000 outlets in China, but its subsidiary Li Ning Sports USA “hasn't tried to sell shoes to Americans.” It will open a showroom at its two-year-old design center in Portland's Pearl District, and the showroom's grand opening will include an appearance by Clippers G Baron Davis, “perhaps the most recognizable athlete” to endorse Li Ning for U.S. customers. Cavaliers C Shaquille O'Neal endorses Li Ning in China. With the showroom’s opening, the U.S. subsidiary “hopes to launch an Internet e-commerce site aimed at American customers” by late January. The company’s U.S. Creativity Center Chief Rep. Jay Li said that Li Ning chose Portland for its U.S. design center over Boston, the “other American city with significant shoe-design talent, partly because Portland's location and time zone allows for quicker travel and easier communications with Beijing.” Li: “The primary objective of us being here is not to sell our products (in America). The primary objective of us being here is to upgrade our talent. We're not quite ready to compete with the big boys. … We are really here to learn. We're not here to challenge. We're not there yet. I don't think (Nike executives) need to worry too much about us at this point.” Paul Swangard, Managing Dir of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the Univ. of Oregon, said of Li Ning, “They see themselves as one of the next great global brands. It's an inherently competitive business because it's a sports business. To not have come to Portland would almost suggest you're not ready to play with the big boys" (AP, 12/24).

    Sales ('08)
    Li Ning (footwear/apparel);
    Z-Do (low-cost merchandise); Kason (badminton)^^

    NOTES: * = worldwide. ** = storefronts in China. Not included are a handful of other stores in South Asia. ^ = Company also had sales of $596M in first half of '09. ^^ = Li Ning also has a controlling interest in Double Happiness (table tennis), and has agreements with France's Aigle and Italy's Lotto brands for the Chinese market.

  • Retailers See Heavy Interest For New Air Jordan Sneakers

    Air Jordan Space Jam Sneaker Releases
    To Raucous Crowds At Stores Across U.S.
    A "teeming throng of more than 1,000 people massed outside" the Arden Fair mall in Sacramento before midnight Tuesday, "all for the chance to spend $175 on the new, retro-style Air Jordan Space Jam sneakers," according to Peter Hecht of the SACRAMENTO BEE. The phenomenon "spilled over elsewhere in the country as retail centers scheduled midnight or early morning openings for the sales launch" of the sneakers. Hecht noted when the crowd at Arden Fair "surged past mall managers trying to hand out numbers for purchasing the shoes," the mall "shut down the midnight sales promotion and told everyone to go home." No "injuries or damages were reported" at the mall. But at a mall in Ann Arbor, Michigan, police were "called to help maintain order among early morning shoppers seeking the shoes." In S.F., customers "lined up all night outside several retailers." Hecht noted many customers "returned before" Arden Fair's 8:00am PT opening Wednesday, and by 8:30, "all the Jordans at five stores -- Foot Locker, Foot Action, Sittra, Champs Sports and Shoe Palace -- were sold out" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 12/24). In San Antonio, Jessica Elizarraras reported local residents "lined up hours" before retailers opened to buy the Air Jordan sneakers. The Rivercenter mall Footaction location "opened early, but only allowed one customer in the store at a time." The mall's Foot Locker outlet opened at 7:00am CT and "allowed only a handful of shoppers in the store at a time" (SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS, 12/24).

    IN MEMORY: In Portland, Steve Beaven reported Frank Rudy, who was "best known as an inventor who created the Air Sole technology that helped make Nike a booming business," died earlier this month at the age of 84 at his home in California. Rudy is "credited with inventing the Nike Air shoe cushioning system in the late 1970s." But the system "didn't catch on with consumers until 1987, when Nike used television ads featuring the Beatles' 'Revolution' to promote" its Air Max sneakers, which "made the gas-filled urethane pouch visible" (Portland OREGONIAN, 12/25).

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