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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EA Sports To Hold "Madden Gras"
Party In New Orleans On Aug. 10
EA Sports will hold a "Madden Gras" in New Orleans on August 10, the scheduled launch day for "Madden NFL 11," to celebrate the release of the venerable videogame title and the selection of Saints QB Drew Brees as the cover athlete for the game. The widely expected choice of Brees, officially announced this morning, arrived after a first-time fan vote. Specific elements for "Madden Gras" have not yet been finalized, but will be similar in scale to the "Madden-oliday" and "Maddenpalooza" events that have heralded releases of prior versions of the game. EA Sports VP/Marketing Tom Goedde: "Let your imagination run wild. It's going to be one heck of a party. That will be our big tentpole event, and something that will really involve the city of New Orleans." The now-set August 10 release date for the game also solidifies a shift back to a Tuesday release day for "Madden," after experimenting with a Friday date last year. The Friday move, designed in part to tie into a Steelers-Cardinals exhibition game and provide a more Hollywood-style opening game, ultimately made week-to-week sales tracking difficult as the entire industry is set up to monitor sales based on sales weeks starting on Tuesdays (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).
COVER BOY: Brees said that he sees being selected to be on the cover of the game as "completely positive for himself, the Saints and the city of New Orleans." Brees: "Just the fact that so many people are talking about it, obviously it gets a lot of attention. And my thought is this is just another way to represent New Orleans and the Saints." Brees said that he was "especially honored" because the cover athlete was decided by fan voting for the first time (NOLA.com, 4/22). He added, "Anytime you are given any kind of an honor voted on by the fans, that's who this game is for and the game is all about representing our fans. That certainly takes on a very special meaning with us because of the bond that we share with the city of New Orleans and the Who Dat Nation" (USATODAY.com, 4/22).
Brees Reads CBS' "Late Show"
Top Ten List Thursday Night
THE NEXT STAR OF LATE NIGHT? Brees Thursday night read CBS’ “Late Show” Top Ten list, which was entitled "Top Ten Features Of The New 'Madden NFL 11' Video Game." Holding a copy of the new game, CBS' David Letterman said the Madden franchise "has sold like 80 million copies." Letterman said he has "three teams that I support fully. I have the Indianapolis Colts because I'm from Indianapolis. I have the New York Giants because the brother of the quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts is the brother of the quarterback for the New York Giants. What's his name? Toby Manning? Was it Opie Manning?" Letterman: "And then Drew Brees, who played his college ball for the Boilermakers in West Lafayette, Indiana" ("Late Show," CBS, 4/23).
10) "You can play it on Xbox, Playstation, Wii and some microwave ovens." 9) "It comes with a coupon for free ACL or MCL surgery." 8) "Everyone's named 'Ochocinco.'" 7) "Electronic pants let you feel every groin pull." 6) "Between possessions, Peyton is shooting commercials." 5) "In the last two minutes of the half, Donkey Kong throws barrels at you." 4) "Whenever he drops a pass, Terrell Owens cries." (Video was aired of Owens crying at post-game press conference talking about Cowboys QB Tony Romo) 3) "They boosted the gigabytes or pixels or some crazy stuff like that." 2) "I guarantee playing this game will make you an NFL player within 3 months!" 1) "I'm on the cover -- what more could you possibly need to know?"
Watch This Nike/Dick's Sporting Goods
Spot Featuring Ben Roethlisberger
Nike said that it is "standing by" Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger despite his off-field behavioral issues, but N.Y. TIMES opinion columnist Timothy Egan wrote he has "come to expect more of Nike with regard to women." The company in an e-mail said, "Ben continues to be part of the Nike roster of athletes." Egan noted Nike's stance indicates that Roethlisberger, a "man most parents would not let near their daughter, let alone their community center, is a fit representative for one of the premier American corporations." So what "exactly does it take for Nike to dump a jock?" Egan: "Dog-fighting will do it. ... But cruelty to women is O.K. I don't know how else to read the company's inconsistent stand. Here is a guy who treats women like garbage, yet a company that boasts of having humane corporate values uses him as their front man." What is the "point of having someone like Roethlisberger wearing a company logo in public?" Do people "really decide to buy shoes because a brute who spends his nights drunkenly pawning at women, and worse, lent his name to them?" Nike "helps obscure female athletes train and find a community of equally motivated women," and that is "one message from Nike." The other is that it is "O.K. for a buffoon of a man to disrespect women, so long as he continues to throw a football well" (NYTIMES.com, 4/21). TRUESLANT.com's Sara Libby noted Nike "put out a commercial promoting its female athletes back in 2007, after the ugly comments made by Don Imus about the Rutgers women's basketball team." Nike then was "all too happy to note how kick-ass its female athletes, like Serena Williams, Picabo Street and Gabby Reece, can be." But when it is the company's "own sponsored male athletes who are insulting women through their behavior, Nike can't be bothered to back up its ladies" (TRUESLANT.com, 4/22).
REASONABLE DOUBT: CNBC.com's Darren Rovell wrote the allegations against Roethlisberger "will assure us that Nike will never use him in a commercial again." So the question "becomes why doesn't Nike get rid of him now?" The "short answer seems to be that Nike doesn't sever contracts with athletes who haven't committed a crime or haven't been found to use performance enhancing drugs." Without Roethlisberger "being charged or convicted of sexual assault, he fits the bill of still staying under the Nike athlete roster." Rovell: "Precedent shows that Nike will just let its contract with Roethlisberger expire without mentioning it" (CNBC.com, 4/22).
ANIMAL KINGDOM: The PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE reports Penguins co-Owner Mario Lemieux is replacing Roethlisberger on a display at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. Roethlisberger's image "has been used in a display on the pathway leading to the elephant barn." But a new sign "has been made using the image" of Lemieux, which "will replace the Roethlisberger piece of the exhibit." When asked if the display change "has anything to do with current events" surrounding Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium Manager of PR & Media Relations Tracy Gray said, "Well, we have had some calls" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 4/23).
PepsiCo Launching New Ad Campaign To
Promote "G Series" During Playoffs Friday Night
PepsiCo during ESPN's NBA Playoffs coverage Friday night is "launching a new ad campaign ... meant to boost its struggling Gatorade business," according to Valerie Bauerlein of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The campaign promoting the new lineup of "G Series" drinks for athletes "aims to demonstrate that Gatorade isn't just a sports drink that replaces nutrients sweated out during the game, but a system with three steps." Gatorade's basic message of hydration "hasn't changed much in 45 years," but PepsiCo "wants the G Series to expand the Gatorade message to broader sports performance." One ad, "Evolve," shows "grainy images of men throwing a ball into a peach basket and women in dresses playing tennis with wooden rackets." A "1960s-era montage shows a vintage Gatorade bottle and is followed by footage of great athletes and previous Gatorade spokesmen, like Michael Jordan." Another spot, "Before, During and After," features "black-and-white images of athletes warming up, playing, then winding down, interspersed with color images of the G Series products." Teens are Gatorade's "main target," but PepsiCo also "plans to reach out to adult athletes." Gatorade is launching a "separate new line next month called G Series Pro, aimed at marathon runners, personal trainers and other elite athletes," and products will be sold "in specialty stores such as GNC and Dick's Sporting Goods." PepsiCo said its G Series approach is the "biggest innovation news in its history." The company "wouldn't disclose the cost of the new campaign," but a PepsiCo spokesperson said it is the "biggest spend for a launch in our history" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 4/23).
Nike Extends USA Track & Field
Sponsorship Through Rio '16 Games
Less than a year after renewing its partnership with USA Track & Field, Nike has exercised an option in its contract to extend its sponsorship through the '16 Rio de Janeiro Games. The extension option was included in the four-year agreement Nike and USATF negotiated last June. USATF CEO Doug Logan in a statement said, "Nike has recognized the value in track and field since its founding, and they have been a great partner to USA Track & Field for nearly two decades. That they exercised this option so early into our contract is a big boost of confidence and a testament to the strength of our relationship." Nike has been a USATF partner since '91.
Earnhardt Jr. Will Revive Father's
No. 3 Wrangler Car For July Race
NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. is planning to "run the No. 3 Wrangler Chevrolet for JR Motorsports" at the NASCAR Nationwide Series Subway Jalapeño 250 powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona Int'l Speedway on July 2, according to sources cited by Lee Spencer of FOXSPORTS.com. Sources said that Earnhardt "will revive his father's famous No. 3 in a collaborative effort initiated by JR Motorsports with Richard Childress Racing and Dale Earnhardt Inc." A formal announcement is expected next week. Earnhardt currently has a "personal services contract with Wrangler, continuing a family legacy between the brands." Wrangler first sponsored the late Dale Earnhardt Sr. for the "final race of his 1980 Cup championship season" (FOXSPORTS.com, 4/22). Sources said that the car "will not be a black No. 3" (ESPN.com, 4/22). In Daytona Beach, Godwin Kelly writes if Earnhardt "does drive the No. 3 Wrangler Chevrolet at Daytona, credit JR Motorsports for boosting ticket sales at the racetrack once again" (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 4/23).
The panther head logo at Whitmer High School's football stadium in Toledo is "said to be Ohio's largest high school field logo," but Univ. of Pittsburgh officials contend that the image "belongs to" their school, according to Christopher Kirkpatrick of the TOLEDO BLADE. Pitt contacted the Toledo school district "earlier this month and ordered the high school to stop using it." Superintendent Patrick Hickey said that a Whitmer student "has since created a new panther logo and the district plans to trademark it." But he noted that to remove the "existing logo from the three-year-old football field, its basketball hard court, and from the back stadium wall would mean 'enormous dollars.'" Hickey said that the image is "'sewn' into the state-of-the-art turf" on the football field, and painting over or covering the logo "might void the warranty." He added that the school district "asked the university for mercy in an April 15 letter, which outlines a remedial course of action for withdrawing the logo from use," though Pitt has yet to respond. Hickey "agrees the logo looks virtually the same as one the university owns," but he said that he "doubts the university would want to financially harm a local school district." Ohio High School Athletic Association Associate Commissioner Bob Goldring said that protection of collegiate trademarks "has become more focused and aggressive in recent years, and local school systems could run afoul." Whitmer High School AD Tom Snook noted that "about five years ago, the school started using" the panther head as a secondary logo. Snook said that the logo's use has since "blossomed, and it was drawn into plans for the new football stadium and its fancy new turf" (TOLEDO BLADE, 4/23).
In Boston, Donna Goodison reported Red Sox P Jonathan Papelbon has "signed a multiyear endorsement deal with Under Armour" after his deal with Reebok ended earlier this year. Papelbon will "make appearances for Under Armour as his schedule allows." Under Armour Dir of Professional Sports Marketing Ryan Kuehl: "For us to ... sign a closer of the Red Sox -- with all those great fans out there -- we thought would be a great opportunity to get into the market." Goodison noted Papelbon is wearing a pair of customized cleats with "Cinco Ocho" "embroidered on the side" in reference to his jersey No. 58 (BOSTON HERALD, 4/20).
China-Based Chery Automobile Co. Has
Signed Lionel Messi As An Int'l Ambassador
NOTHING BUT THE BEST: The AP's Chi-Chi Zhang reports China-based Chery Automobile Co., the country's biggest domestic auto brand, "signaled its ambition Friday to become a global player by signing" FC Barcelona and Argentina F Lionel Messi as an int'l ambassador. Chery spokesperson Jin Yibo said that the company "aims to double exports this year to 100,000 vehicles and will use Messi to promote Chery's luxury Riich brand." Northeast Securities Co. analyst Liu Lixi said, "Having a recognized face to promote its brand will make a big impact on Chery's business in foreign markets" (AP, 4/23).
THREE STRIPES: In Texas, Randy Stevens reported Texas State Univ. athletics recently announced a three-year agreement with adidas to "provide exclusive footwear and apparel for all Bobcat teams beginning with the 2010-11 academic year." The new agreement "ensures that all Texas State's teams will be outfitted in adidas uniforms including practice and travel gear." Officially licensed Texas State/adidas branded products "will be available" to fans. This marks the "first time that the Texas State Athletics Department has been outfitted by one brand." Texas State AD Larry Teis: "We basically got the same sort of deal like departments at SMU and New Mexico, so they gave us a really good package" (SAN MARCOS DAILY RECORD, 4/21).
NOTES: Titans QB Vince Young earlier this week was in Boston shooting ads for Reebok's '10 Second Season apparel, "which includes shoes and a variety of clothing" (TENNESSEAN.com, 4/21). Ravens QB Joe Flacco this week also was at a Reebok shoot "for ads that will run in November" (Baltimore SUN, 4/22)....Sears has reached a multi-year partnership with Edwin Watts Golf Shops that will see the golf retailer establish 12 golf shops inside existing Sears stores across the U.S. The first location is scheduled to open in Murray, Utah, by May 31 (Sears).