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Bridgestone To Continue Title Sponsoring
Winter Classic In New Five-Year Deal
The NHL and NHLPA have renewed their partnership with Bridgestone in a five-year deal that ensures the company will remain the league's official tire and the title sponsor of the NHL Winter Classic. Bridgestone receives trademarks and media throughout the NHL season and a multitude of rights during the '11 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, including on-air broadcast rights, branded promotion on NBC, in-arena video spots, dasherboards and integration into the event logo and mark. NHL Senior VP/Corporate Sales & Marketing Keith Wachtel said, "They now have one of our jewel events. The Winter Classic was something they built equity in and saw growth in. Collectively, it made sense for us to enter a long-term agreement." The contract contemplates changes to the NHL's media contract, which ends with Versus and NBC after the '10-11 season. It includes contingencies should the NHL's broadcast partners change or the Winter Classic be moved from a daytime to a primetime broadcast. The new Bridgestone deal includes commitments to NHL clubs, as well. Most of those partnerships will be in Canada, where Bridgestone has partnered with tire retailers for dasherboard signage, Wachtel said. The Richards Group represented Bridgestone in negotiations with the NHL. The NHL has not officially named an '11 host city for the Winter Classic, but reports have placed it at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field on Jan. 1. The Capitals and Penguins reportedly would play in the outdoor game.
BRAND AWARENESS GROWING: John Baratta, President of Bridgestone Americas Consumer Replacement Tire Sales division, said "We've had about two-and-a-half years of experience with the NHL and our intent from the beginning was to get our brand awareness to grow and consumers intent to buy grow. It has in fact happened." Baratta said that in recent studies Bridgestone has asked buyers if they are NHL fans and discovered that those that are NHL fans have a higher intent to buy. Baratta: "We initially looked at the NHL for the Canadian market and we've seen tremendous business increases there in Canada, but we've also seen increases in the United States, particularly in core markets like Boston and Chicago. We want to keep the momentum going, so it made sense to renew not only the contract but the Winter Classic program."
Whirlpool’s KitchenAid appliance brand has signed a four-year deal making it the PGA of America’s first “official home appliance,” as well as presenting sponsor of the Senior PGA Championship through '14. The 71st Senior PGA Championship will be played this week at Colorado Golf Club in Parker, Colo. KitchenAid will have minimal activation there, but will ramp up efforts for future tournaments, starting with the '11 Senior PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, while also including the Senior PGA Championships in '12 and '14 to be hosted at The Golf Club at Harbor Shores in Benton Harbor, Mich., where KitchenAid is headquartered and helping to develop a not-for-profit golf community. Under the deal, KitchenAid gets ad units on NBC Sports and Golf Channel, while also receiving hospitality, retail pass-through rights, on-site signage and pro-am participation. Aside from a few smaller golf tournaments it was associated with a few years ago, KitchenAid has not been active in sports marketing. KitchenAid Senior Manager of Brand Experience Deb O’Connor: “We’re an iconic American brand and this event, and the PGA, are the same way. And it’s a home town play, since we’ll have the event there twice. It’s just a new way to connect with our consumers and retail trade, and we’ll use our new association in advertising." PGA of America CEO Joe Steranka: “We like to think of ourselves as the organization that represents the entire sport, so an association with an appliance brand should be powerful when you think as golf as a lifestyle.” As for the golf business now compared to a year ago? Steranka: “We never subscribed to the statement there was this huge slump. In the past two years, two of the toughest retail years, our rounds played were down 2%. Overall revenue in the golf course business was down 6%. We signed our biggest automotive deal (Mercedes) and replaced RBS with RBC. So with KitchenAid in the fold, we’re feeling pretty resilient."
Garnett Reportedly Will Opt Out Of Lifetime
Deal With Adidas For China-Based Anta
Celtics F Kevin Garnett has signed an endorsement deal with Chinese sportswear brand Anta and "will leave adidas at the end of the current NBA season," according to sources cited by COUNTERKICKS.com. The new partnership is "set to be officially announced later this summer in China." Garnett signed a "lifetime endorsement contract" with adidas in '03, but that contract "allows for an opt-out" after this season. adidas would not comment on the matter. Anta is "one of the emerging Chinese sportswear companies along with Li-Ning and PEAK who all have plans to make a run at the U.S. market in this coming decade" (COUNTERKICKS.com, 5/24).
LOCATION IS RELATIVE: AD AGE's Jeremy Mullman writes Madison Avenue "isn't going to factor" in the decision of what team Cavaliers F LeBron James signs with when he becomes a free agent on July 1, "contrary to a much-asserted bit of conventional wisdom." Marketing Arm Account Dir Darin David said that "playing in a bigger market does nothing to inflate" James' value to sponsors. David: "Maybe 30 years ago that sort of thing mattered. But it really doesn't matter now." He argues that the "national TV structure and relative parity of leagues like the National Basketball Association and the National Football League essentially makes geography irrelevant." Mullman: "Case in point: The two busiest endorsers in team sports are Mr. James and Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning" (AD AGE, 5/24 issue).
NBA-Logoed Pizzas Will Be Available
Next Season For All 30 Teams
The NBA recently signed licensing deals with companies that offer "outside-the-box food items" such as "edible team logos," according to Bruce Horovitz of USA TODAY. Lucks Edible Images will make NBA logos on pizzas "available next season for all 30 teams," with the images "made of sugar, starch and food coloring." The logos, which will "add about $5 to the pizza price," will not be "sold directly to consumers but to some 1,200 independent pizza parlors nationwide." The images are "placed atop the pizza after it has been fully baked and sliced," and then it "melts into the cheese." Meanwhile, NBA Pro Toast Toasters will be available next month for $34.99 and are "specially made to 'burn' golden brown team logos onto bread as it toasts." Horovitz notes NBA logos also are "showing up on everything from headphones to gardening gloves to outdoor grills." With sports licensing "hit by the recession, major pro leagues and licensees are rolling out creative deals to attract new fans, particularly more women and teens." The Licensing Letter Publisher Ira Mayer estimated that retail sales of licensed sports merchandise "fell 17% last year in the U.S. and Canada." Boosting revenue "means expanding the fan base and creating buzz." NBA Senior VP/Global Merchandising Sal LaRocca said, "As key licensing categories have matured, it's an ongoing goal of the NBA to expand the brand into places that may attract new customers" (USATODAY.com, 5/26). The NBA said that its global business "has continued to grow and overall sales of NBA merchandise have been up over the past two years." The NBA Store in N.Y. and NBAStore.com "are on pace to have their best years ever," with sales up more than 20% versus last year (THE DAILY).
ING Reportedly Upset Over Bad Publicity
Race Has Generated In Recent Years
ING is bowing out as the title sponsor of S.F.'s annual Bay to Breakers running race "after five years of booze, bareback runners and increasingly bad press," according to Matier & Ross of the S.F. CHRONICLE. Sam Singer, a spokesperson for the AEG-operated race, confirmed ING "chose not to renew" for the race's 100th anniversary next year. The insurance company reportedly is "fed up with all the bad publicity that the race has generated in recent years, especially the complaints of residents around the Panhandle and Alamo Square about revelers and runners urinating, defecating and generally behaving rudely." While it is unclear "exactly how much ING paid to be the race's chief sponsor, it's believed the figure was at least a couple of hundred thousand dollars." A race insider said that "there won't be a 100th anniversary run to celebrate" next year "unless somebody else steps up to the starting line" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 5/26).
In N.Y., John Martin reports "for a second year, the international tennis advertising business seems unimpressed with the French Open -- outside the grounds of Roland Garros." The "gigantic images of players and their shirts, shorts, rackets and headbands, ubiquitous from 2003 to 2008, are nowhere to be seen on city streets" in Paris. At the Porte d'Auteuil subway station, "gateway to Roland Garros, the walls are bereft of tennis ads." But inside the grounds of Roland Garros, the "assault on spectator eyes continues." Logos and "commercial acronyms of perhaps a dozen international companies are emblazoned on the sideboards and backdrops of the major stadium courts." Inside Court One on Sunday, there were "no fewer than 54 names, several repeated as many as six or seven times" (NYTIMES.com, 5/26).
Office Depot Teaming With Lexmark
To Give Military Families Free Printers
NEWS THAT'S FIT TO PRINT: Office Depot, sponsor of Tony Stewart's No. 14 Sprint Cup Chevy, is teaming with Lexmark to provide military families with free printers thanks to a Memorial Day promotion. Each time a Lexmark printer is sold at Office Depot from May 30 to June 5, a printer will be given to Operation Homefront, the non-profit dedicated to the needs of military families. Office Depot and Lexmark are expected to donate about 4,000 printers. Stewart is helping promote the cause with a special rear panel display on his car during the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday (Michael Smith, SportsBusiness Journal).
WISHFUL THINKING: In Toronto, Norris McDonald reports the Blue Jays and Honda Canada will sponsor IndyCar Series driver Paul Tracy's No. 15 Dallara-Honda-Firestone car in the July 18 Honda Indy Toronto. Tracy will race "in support of Make-A-Wish Canada." Honda Canada VP/Advertising & Sponsorships Arch Wilcox said that "money donated to the Make-A-Wish foundation during the Honda Indy promotion will be matched by his company" (TORONTO STAR, 5/26).
RUN IT BACK: Pemco Insurance is partnering with MLS Sounders FC for the second consecutive season to showcase Seattle fans' passion for the club through events, activities and a season-long contest (Pemco).