SBD/Issue 87/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

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  • Farmers Insurance To Title Sponsor San Diego PGA Tour Event

    The PGA Tour yesterday announced the Farmers Insurance Group has signed a one-year deal to title sponsor next week’s PGA Tour event in San Diego. Industry sources said the Tour was seeking $3-3.5M for the last-minute deal, which includes limited branding on the course and ad units during the telecast on CBS and Golf Channel. The deal was negotiated over the weekend and finalized yesterday morning. It includes a long-term option, and industry sources said the Tour plans on seeking the same $8.5M a year deal it originally put on the market last fall after Buick dropped the San Diego event in bankruptcy reorganization. Zurich Financial Services, which title sponsors the PGA Tour event in New Orleans, is the parent company of Farmers Insurance Group. Both organizations are represented by The McGriff Group, a sports marketing agency based in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida (Jon Show, SportsBusiness Journal).'s Gene Yasuda noted keeping Farmers "in the fold beyond 2010 would be a major boon for the Tour, which has several title sponsorships coming up for renewal after this season" (, 1/18).

    SPEED GOLF: In San Diego, Tod Leonard notes with the sponsorship deal coming "so close to the start of the tournament," event organizers the Century Club will have to "work quickly to get the Farmers Insurance logo on as many tournament items as possible." That includes "everything from tee markers to caddie bibs." Farmers CEO Bob Woudstra yesterday noted that he was "approached by PGA Tour officials and didn't begin extensive talks about the tournament until this past weekend" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 1/19). The event will be known as the Farmers Insurance Open, but Tournament Dir Tom Wilson said that signage was "complete and officials were ready to move forward without a title sponsor," calling the event the San Diego Open. Wilson contends that there still is "plenty of time to make sure the event will run as if Farmers had been the sponsor all along" (NORTH COUNTY TIMES, 1/19).

    HOW ABOUT ANOTHER ROUND? In Honolulu, Paul Arnett reports Sony's sponsorship of the PGA Tour event in Oahu expires after this year, and it "seems likely a long-term arrangement can be secured, if the price is right" for both Sony and the PGA Tour. Those negotiations should "go a little easier after last week's successful event concluded with a dramatic ... finish at the 18th." This year's field was "as strong as any since the Mercedes and Sony corporations signed five-year deals in 1998 to host the opening PGA tournaments for 1999 and beyond" (HONOLULU STAR-BULLETIN, 1/19).

  • Olympic Sponsors Placing Greater Focus On Social Media Efforts

    Samsung Enhancing Its Typical On-Site Marketing
    Initiatives, TV Spots With Social Media Campaign
    Olympic sponsors this year are "putting more attention on digital initiatives that tap into social media" as part of activation plans around next month's Vancouver Games, according to Brian Morrissey of ADWEEK. Companies are "plowing money that in previous Olympiads would have been spent in TV into digital channels that barely existed during prior games, using athlete blogs, tweets and mobile to drum up buzz before and during" the Games. Compared to the '08 Beijing Games, social media initiatives now are "more integrated with campaigns and less often add-on components." IOC TOP sponsor Samsung is "enhancing its typical on-site marketing initiatives and TV spots with a social media campaign," under which Olympic attendees "will record their experiences via blog posts, videos and Twitter updates." Meanwhile, other TOP sponsors "hope to generate buzz by marrying athlete sponsorships with social media." Panasonic is using the Games as a "launch pad to market" its new 3D TVs, and is planning for a blog that will chronicle the efforts of five Olympians. In addition, Visa's "Go World" campaign includes a new microsite "where the brand features athlete videos, photos and widgets that tie into nets like Facebook." McDonald's is distributing athlete-focused TV ads "on YouTube and other social venues." However, Morrissey notes social media represents "only a tiny fraction of the amount marketers will spend during the Olympics," and TV ads "still predominate in most top advertisers' plans" (ADWEEK, 1/18 issue).

  • Sharapova's Early Aussie Exit Calls Nike Deal Into Question

    Sharapova Loses Five Days After
    Signing Record Deal With Nike
    Tennis player Maria Sharapova Monday lost her first-round match at the Australian Open just five days after signing a record eight-year, $70M contract extension with Nike, and it appears she did not get the deal solely "based on the way she's playing," according to Greg Couch of FANHOUSE. It is her role "to be Anna Kournikova, only with results." While women's tennis "needs Maria Sharapova," it "walks a tightrope right along with her, between whether it is selling sport or sex appeal." It is "fine to sell both, with the message being that women can be strong, fit, athletic and attractive all in one." But it is "important that the only women's sport accepted into the mainstream doesn't drop the 'sport' side of the equation." Sharapova is "supposed to be more than just looks, yet she has gotten past the third round of a major just twice in the past two years." Meanwhile, Couch wrote Sharapova Monday wore an "embarrassing-looking green dress/thing," and if she is "going to dress up in a girl scout uniform from the 1970s with lingerie over the top, or mosquito netting, or whatever that was, and then go out and be afraid to hit a second serve, well, that's just embarrassing." She "makes statements not only with her grit, but also her outfits," and it is "particularly embarrassing when she dresses up in such a goofy outfit, and then stinks up the place" (, 1/18). In Melbourne, Dan Silkstone notes Nike received "little early return on its investment" after Sharapova's first-round exit (Melbourne AGE, 1/19).

    FEELING BLUE: The AP's Tanalee Smith wrote Sharapova's "blue dress with a patterned green mesh overlay was the first of the new Maria Sharapova Collection, a line of Nike tennis dresses and two-piece sets available this year" that Sharapova helped design. Maria Kirilenko, who defeated Sharapova Monday, said of the dress, "It was blue, I think, like Powerade. It was a good dress. She always has nice dresses." Smith noted four other Sony Ericsson WTA Tour players -- Kai-Chen Chang, Julie Goerges, Anastasia Pivovarova and Madison Keys -- "will compete in Sharapova's designs this year" (AP, 1/18). YAHOO SPORTS' Chris Chase noted reviews of the dress "were on par with Sharapova's disappointing performance on the court" (, 1/18).

  • Northern Rock Renews Newcastle United Shirt Sponsorship Deal

    Northern Rock Renews Shirt
    Sponsorship With Newcastle
    English soccer club Newcastle United has "signed a new four-year" shirt sponsorship deal with Newcastle-based bank Northern Rock plc, "which could earn the club" $16.3M (all figures U.S.), according to the PA. It had been thought Northern Rock "would not be renewing" its five-year, $40.8M deal set to expire after this season, as it is now "government-owned." But the new bank, "formed after the recent restructuring of Northern Rock business, will continue to be the club's main sponsor until the end of the 2013-14 season." Northern Rock CEO Gary Hoffman: "We remain mindful of our responsibilities under government ownership and only consider those advertising and promotion channels that deliver a high return on investment and good strategic fit. We believe that the sponsorship deal with Newcastle United provides both of these" (PA, 1/18). The BBC noted the bank was "taken into public ownership in 2008," but Hoffman "defended the decision to renew the sponsorship deal." Hoffman: "Brand awareness and promotion are important elements in the continuing development of the company." The "maximum value of the contract would only be realised if Newcastle" plays in the EPL "for the whole of the four-year period." The club currently plays in the Championship, England's second division (, 1/18). Meanwhile, Northern Rock Small Shareholders' Group Founder Robin Ashby described the move as "bonkers." Ashby: "This is not a sensible use of taxpayers' money. It is not a sensible commercial decision. I really do not understand it. They have got a lot of explaining to do and I think they are going to be doing that explaining in Parliament. British taxpayers clearly should not be sponsoring football clubs as a publicly-owned, nationalised bank" (London TELEGRAPH, 1/19).

    EASTERN PROMISE: The BIRMINGHAM MAIL's Colin Tattum reports EPL club Birmingham City yesterday "became the first English side to appoint a Chinese firm as kit and leisurewear supplier" after signing a five-year, $12.8M deal with Xtep, China's "leading fashion sportswear brand." The club will receive $11.5M from Xtep and $1.3M "worth of sportswear bearing the Xtep logo during the five-year period to May 2015." Xtep also will pay up to $650,000 "should [the] Blues win league or cups, domestically or in Europe." As part of the deal, a "minimum of eight Blues matches will be televised on China's CCTV5 sports channel and players will participate in promotional activities for Xtep in China during the close season." Also, "eight 'mega advertising billboards' bearing Xtep's logo and products will be made available" at St. Andrew's Stadium. Birmingham City Vice Chair Peter Pannu said players will "undertake product endorsements and that in itself can be an incentive for them to work hard and produce for the club on the pitch." Pannu said the Xtep deal is "just the tip of the iceberg as far as what [Owner] Carson Yeung is doing for us in China" (BIRMINGHAM MAIL, 1/19). Tattum noted Birmingham "had been negotiating with Italian manufacturers errea to replace current suppliers Umbro, whose contract finishes at the end of the season," and had "promised to ask supporters to help choose the design of the jerseys for the 2010-11 season" (, 1/18).

  • Nike Debuting New Line Of Golf Clubs Without Tiger's Promo Power

    Nike This Month Launching
    New Line Of Woods
    Nike will "launch new golf clubs this month without the promotional muscle" of Tiger Woods, according to Miguel Bustillo of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Nike said that its Victory Red STR8-FIT Tour fairway woods -- which will go on sale January 28 for $299 -- were "designed with input from all 13 U.S. golf stars who promote Nike's golf products." But the "promotional materials make no mention" of Woods. Instead, the promos "trumpet that the clubs were tested in tournament play" by '09 U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover. Bustillo notes Nike has "faced deteriorating golf sales because of the recession." Annual revenue at Nike Golf "fell 11% last year to $648[M] after peaking at $725[M] the year before." Nike Golf's "slump mirrors a wider plunge in the market for golf apparel and gear." Orlando-based research firm Golf Datatech LLC indicated that sales of clubs and other hard equipment "fell 11.9% in the first 11 months of 2009 at golf-course shops and specialty stores." Bustillo notes while Woods will be "out of the limelight for at least part of this year" due to his indefinite leave from the PGA Tour, some industry experts believe that Nike has a "larger set of options" from an endorsement standpoint than in recent years. Both Glover and Stewart Cink won their first major titles last year, and Michelle Wie "won her first professional women's tournament last year." Golf Datatech co-Founder Tom Stine: "What Tiger gave Nike is credibility. When you have the top guy out there winning with your stuff, it tells the public that you have top-line equipment. But they have plenty of other golfers doing that now" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/19).

  • Work Zone Ahead: Lowe's, NASCAR HOF Nearing Sponsorship Deal

    Lowe's and the NASCAR HOF are in the final stages of negotiations for a sponsorship deal that will put the home improvement store's marks on the Kid's Zone, Transporter and Pit Road areas. Visitors to the HOF tonight on the Sprint Cup media tour will notice a transporter wrapped in Lowe's familiar blue colors, even though the HOF has not yet made an official announcement about the deal. It is not certain whether Lowe's will also use its Kobalt Tools brand in the HOF, as it does on the No. 48 Jimmie Johnson car.

  • Marketplace Roundup

    Images Of This Season's NBA All-Star Jerseys
    Accidentally Leaked Online Monday Afternoon
    YAHOO SPORTS' J.E. Skeets noted images of this season's NBA All-Star jerseys were "posted/accidentally leaked online Monday afternoon," and they look "similar to the 'futuristic' '09 threads." The game will be held next month at Cowboys Stadium, and the jerseys have a "large, but subtle star image on the front, and a star-ish Windows '97 desktop background tile-like pattern on the back." The biggest difference from last season is that while the "East and West are sticking to their blue and red respective themes, for the first time (possibly ever), neither team will wear white as its base color" (, 1/18).

    WORRIED WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK?'s Andrea Tse reported EA Sports last week "discreetly sponsored a survey about Tiger Woods" in an effort to "gather the public's views" of the gaming company and its new "Tiger Woods PGA Tour Online" game. The questionnaire on Web survey site Greenfield Online "begins with general questions about sports games, then surprises survey takers" with other questions. One question asks if the controversy surrounding Woods has "made your impressions of EA Sports more or less favorable, or has it had no impact?" (, 1/15).

    GONE IN 60 MINUTES: In Boston, Kevin Paul Dupont wrote the NFL's "Play 60" initiative aimed at battling childhood obesity is "very simple, which is part of its beauty and hopefully its effectiveness." The league's aim is to "get every kid engaged in physical activity for 60 minutes per day," and "that's it." It vows to "help you find something to do and help you do it." The NFL is "onto something really good here, and we will see plenty of the 'Play 60' TV spots over these weeks leading up to the Super Bowl." The league has "engaged a number of players" to join in the effort (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/17).

    FRESH TASTE, FRESH PLACE: Ruby Tuesday restaurant has signed on as the primary sponsor of Penske Racing's No. 22 Nationwide Series Dodge driven by Brad Keselowski for six races this season (Penske Racing). Penske Racing also has signed a deal with Magellan, and team Owner Roger Penske said, "Ruby Tuesday is a new category for us. A great brand … with almost 900 stores here in the U.S. going international which is very interesting to us. With Magellan, I guess I'll never get lost now." Penske: "Those are two key categories that we entered into and that's because we've been knocking on doors" (, 1/19).

    ROUNDUP: Tennis player Andy Roddick earlier this month "filmed several commercials" in Boca Raton, Florida, reportedly for sponsors Lacoste and SAP (, 1/18)....All NBA players who wear Nike shoes wore a "commemorative gray and black pair" yesterday in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 1/19).

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