U.S. Fans Abound For WWC Final LeBron Praised For Role In Apatow's "Trainwreck" MLS Eyeing St. Paul For Expansion Club Angels Bad PR Continues With Dipoto Exit NBA Free Agency Begins With Money Flying Expectations High For NASCAR On NBC NBC Lands New Advertisers For Race Coverage Going Off The Grid Steelers Exploring '23 Super Bowl Bid GT To Benefit Financially From Ireland Game
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Woods Conducts First Interviews
Since Car Crash In November
Tiger Woods yesterday conducted five-minute interviews with both ESPN's Tom Rinaldi and Golf Channel's Kelly Tilghman, his first TV interviews since the November car crash outside his house. Tilghman in her interview asked, "You went from becoming recognized as the greatest golfer in the world to becoming a punch line. How did that make you feel?" Woods said, "It was hurtful, but then again you know what, I did it. I’m the one who did those things and looking back on it now with a more clear head, I get it." Rinaldi asked him, "What's the difference between the man who left Augusta National a year ago and the one who is about to return?" Woods: "A lot has transpired in my life. A lot of ugly things have happened. . ... I've done some pretty bad things in my life. And uh, it all came to a head. But now, after treatment, going for inpatient treatment for 45 days and more outpatient treatment, I'm getting back to my old roots." When asked about the reception he expects from fans, Woods said, "I don't know. I don't know. I'm a little nervous about that to be honest with you." He added, "It would be nice to hear a couple claps here and there. But also hope they clap for birdies, too" (THE DAILY).
SO WHAT'S NEW? In San Jose, Tim Kawakami notes Woods yesterday "talked in general terms about his ongoing treatment and working on his marriage with Elin." He "didn't come close to crying or begging for sympathy," but he "admitted doing awful things and said his unspecified treatment will continue." Woods was "comfortable and conversational" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 3/22). ESPN.com's Bob Harig wrote the interviews, "while admittedly a start," are "but water torture, with information dripping out." Still, "despite its brevity, a good bit of ground was covered in the ESPN interview" (ESPN.com, 3/21). The AP's Jim Litke noted Woods "yet again divulged few details about the crash, his marriage, his stint in a rehabilitation clinic or his personal life" (AP, 3/21). In Boston, Michael Whitmer writes Woods yesterday, "guarded, generally somber in tone, but keeping his emotions in check," repeated "many of the points he made in his televised statement Feb. 19: He's sorry for his transgressions, his treatment is ongoing, and he'll ultimately make amends through his actions, not his words." Woods was "occasionally forthcoming" in the interviews (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/22).
Woods Won't Replace AT&T
With New Sponsor On Golf Bag
THERE IS AN "I" IN TIGER: The AP's Doug Ferguson reported Woods "won't replace AT&T with a new corporate sponsor on his golf bag when he returns" at The Masters, instead using his Nike "TW" brand. AT&T dropped Woods as a sponsor on December 31 in the "midst of the infidelity scandal." It will be the "first time since he turned pro that Woods has used an existing sponsor's logo on the bag." Woods' agent, IMG's Mark Steinberg, in a text message on Friday said, "We are not actively pursuing new business partnerships at this point in time." Ferguson noted the "TW" will be the "fourth logo on Woods' bag in his professional career." Titleist held the spot from '96 until Woods partnered with Buick in '99. That deal lasted until '08, "ending early when GM filed for bankruptcy," and AT&T took over for last season (AP, 3/19). Golf Channel's Brandel Chamblee said, "People just want to sincerely know that he is sorry before they invest in him again. Sponsors: money. Fans: interest and awe" ("Golf Central," Golf Channel, 3/21). But N.Y. Daily News columnist Mike Lupica said Woods "doesn't care about sponsorships. He doesn't care about anything. He cares now about reclaiming his place in golf" ("The Sports Reporters," ESPN, 3/21).
BACK ON THE PROWL: In N.Y., Richard Sandomir examines the impact Woods' return to action will have on retailers under the header, "If Woods Plays Well, Retailers Will Smile." Golf and tennis retail chain Golfsmith and the New York Golf Center said that "at worst, sales of Woods clothing have dipped a bit." Golfsmith Chair & CEO Martin Hanaka: "When it happened, we didn't have deep inventories. Then we went to 20 percent off, and his stuff moved pretty well." NYGC salesperson Gary Lynch said that Woods' clothing line was "hurt because women were less eager to buy his $100 shirts or $130 pants for their golf-playing husbands." With Woods "not playing, the store's front display table could not lay out his popular Thursday-to-Sunday schedule of shirts." Lynch: "We were still getting Nike inventory, but it wasn't related to anything." Hanaka and Lynch said that Woods' "troubles had no discernible effect on Nike equipment sales, in particular the Victory Red club line, which includes an $899.99 iron." Analysts said that they "did not think the scandal had hurt Nike's golf sales." Golf Datatech co-Founder Tom Stine: "We don't have any evidence that people are going to be turned off to the brand because of him" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/21).
Wie Shoots Commercial For McDonald's
As Part Of New Two-Year Deal
McDonald’s has signed Michelle Wie to a two-year endorsement deal, according to Terry Lefton in this week's SportsBusiness Journal. The 20-year-old LPGA player shot a commercial for the QSR last week in California “that will debut in April.” Wie will make “an appearance at the McDonald’s convention in Orlando" next month and “be the face” of a PR campaign backing the launch of McDonald’s smoothies in May. John Lewicki, McDonald’s Senior Dir of Alliance Marketing, said, “We were looking for an Asian-American personality to appeal to that segment, and Michelle has strong appeal there and great crossover appeal. She’d already been doing work for Ronald McDonald charities in Hawaii, so it just seemed like a great fit.” The ad is “one of at least two that will be made with Wie this year.” It will debut in the U.S. around April 20, will be seen in China, Korea and the Philippines, and is being made in five languages. While McDonald’s “often uses golfers for charitable and community efforts, this is its first stateside use of a pro golfer in TV advertising in more than a decade,” since it used Greg Norman. The McDonald’s deal is “the second major sponsorship obtained for Wie” by IMG since the agency took over management of Wie from William Morris about a year ago. In February, Kia signed Wie to a deal that included a logo on her golf bag, she has a pre-existing deal with Nike, and IMG has extended her Omega deal and signed a fifth sponsor in Asia, to be announced shortly (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 3/22 issue).
The Univ. of Central Florida (UCF) Friday announced that it has "reached an agreement with Nike to provide shoes and apparel for all sports," according to Iliana Limon of the ORLANDO SENTINEL. The agreement is "believed to be a five-year term with multiple options for extensions." Nike has a "nondisclosure agreement tied to all shoe and apparel contracts, so UCF declined to release details of the deal." UCF previously had an exclusive shoe and apparel contract with adidas, but the brand ended the partnership after UCF basketball player Marcus Jordan "got national attention for wearing Air Jordans" in a game earlier this season. UCF's contract with adidas ends June 30 and the Nike agreement "officially begins July 1." UCF Exec Associate AD David Chambers said that the school "should be able to get all of its products in time for the start of the fall season." Nike also will be working with UCF officials to "design new uniforms in each sport, including football." Limon noted UCF officials reportedly had "many offers and were rumored to be in talks with Nike, Russell and Under Armour" (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 3/20).
Odom Sees Increase In Marketing Deals
Following Wedding To Reality Star
Samsung Telecommunications America on Friday formally announced the launch of a new ad campaign for its Omnia II mobile smartphone featuring Lakers F Lamar Odom. Samsung's TV and digital spots began airing Thursday during the NCAA men's basketball tournament on local CBS affiliates and Web sites. Media agency Starcom MediaVest Group collaborated with CBS to plan and negotiate the campaign (Samsung). In L.A., Mike Bresnahan noted Odom has been in "three national TV commercials the last two months," including a Taco Bell ad that aired during the Super Bowl and the new Samsung spots. Odom's "new-found commercial appeal can be traced to his wife of six months, reality TV star Khloe Kardashian." Univ. of Oregon Warsaw Sports Marketing Center Managing Dir Paul Swangard said, "I don't think you can underestimate the impact that those nuptials have had on his marketing value. The typical challenge is you're only going to get coverage from the beat writers who cover the Lakers, but he has found a way to get some crossover marketability" (L.A. TIMES, 3/20).
Next Signs A US$15.0M Deal
With LOCOG For '12 Games
U.K.-based fashion company Next has signed on as the "official clothing and homeware supplier" for Team Great Britain during the '12 London Olympics and Paralympics, according to Dominic Walsh of the LONDON TIMES. The US$15.0M deal with LOCOG will see the retailer "design outfits for the opening and closing ceremonies and some furnishings and linen for the athletes' village." In addition to "kitting out the athletes and team managers, Next will supply formal uniforms for the 4,500 technical officials required for the Games and suits" for the LOCOG reception staff. The total number to be dressed will be "more than 5,000." The Next deal brings LOCOG's domestic Olympic sponsor total to 27. Marketing experts believe that Next's "lower midmarket positioning is a good fit with the Olympics while its association with such a high-profile event should boost its brand awareness." Fashion company Lee Cooper supplied uniforms to Team Great Britain for the '08 Beijing Games (LONDON TIMES, 3/20). The deal is the 14th third-tier sponsorship for the London Games, and LOCOG Commercial Dir Chris Townshend said, "Next is a great brand and I'm confident Next will create a great look for the athletes, officials and staff" (MARKETINGWEEK.co.uk, 3/22).
In Cleveland, Brian Windhorst reports Cavaliers F LeBron James "hinted on Sunday that he was close to agreeing to a long-term extension with Nike to continue to be one of their top pitchmen." James' original seven-year contract is "set to expire in a couple of months." James said, "I don't plan on going anywhere, maybe I already have a agreement." James, who "will likely have a new personal Nike logo soon because the current one features No. 23 and he's changing to No. 6, implied his new deal will lead to double figure versions of his shoe" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 3/22).
Nike's "Hello" Ad Greets Rugby Fans Traveling
To Paris For Saturday's France-England Match
BONJOUR! The GUARDIAN's Mark Sweney reported English rugby fans traveling to Paris for the France-England rugby match this past weekend were "greeted by a Nike advertising blitz featuring the word 'Hello' stitched over a fresh wound." The Nike France Rugby ad, via Wieden + Kennedy, Amsterdam, was featured on "billboards and posters plastered throughout Paris's Gare du Nord rail station -- the main arrival point for England supporters." Nike's campaign, which features the line "France welcomes her English friends," also was featured "heavily around the Stade de France and on bus shelters and at stations en route to the stadium." Ads also ran this weekend in L'Equipe newspaper (GUARDIAN.co.uk, 3/19).
WHAT ARE YOU WEARING TONIGHT? In Miami, Michelle Kaufman listed what Rafael Nadal will wear at this week's Sony Ericsson Open as one of "five story lines" to watch for the event. Nadal earlier this month "made headlines in Indian Wells because of his choice of attire -- long, brown diagonal-plaid shorts." The shorts "got mixed reviews," and Nadal "hinted that he will have a new outfit" for the Sony Ericsson Open, which begins Wednesday in Key Biscayne (MIAMI HERALD, 3/21).
DROP IT LIKE IT'S HOT: RELAXNEWS reported adidas has "released its latest filmed ad for the Originals range," which stars David Beckham, tennis player Ana Ivanovic, rapper Snoop Dogg and singer Ciara (RELAXNEWS, 3/20).