SBD/Issue 185/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

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  • BP, Cubs & White Sox Plan To Downplay Crosstown Cup Sponsorship


    The Cubs and White Sox are introducing their new BP Crosstown Cup competition "with much less pomp and circumstance than they might have originally planned, even though it is the only sponsored cup of its kind" in MLB, according to Lewis Lazare of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES. The Cubs and White Sox will face off Friday in the first of six games this season, and "with BP's problems in the Gulf having been front-page news for weeks," the timing for the new rivalry "couldn't be worse." Cubs and White Sox officials said that "it was their understanding that BP's planned promotion of the newly minted cup -- a three-foot trophy of brass with a sterling silver overlay that took local jeweler Howard Kaplan three months to create -- has been scaled way back in the wake of the oil rig explosion." Cubs PR & Marketing Specialist Kevin Saghy said, "We're trying to stand behind our sponsor, but at the same time be respectful of what's happening off the ballfield." Lazare notes despite the bad press, BP has "not moved at the last minute to remove its name from the cup or try to void the sponsorship agreement." Sports marketing execs contend that the Cup sponsorship "might look a lot better to BP -- and the Cubs and Sox -- in a year or two." The Marketing Arm Senior VP Jim Biegalski said, "If BP manages to get everything under control in the Gulf, it could come back a year from now and use the BP Cup as a great platform to help get out the message that they have successfully handled the problem" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 6/9).

  • Livestrong Signs Deal To Title Sponsor Austin Marathon

    Uhlman (l) And Conley (r) Present Austin Mayor
    Lee Leffingwell With Livestrong Race Bib

    Lance Armstrong's Livestrong yesterday announced a "three-year title sponsorship of the Austin Marathon & Half Marathon," according to Pamela LeBlanc of the AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN. Livestrong officials declined to disclose financial terms of the sponsorship, but Livestrong President & CEO Doug Ulman said that the Austin-based nonprofit's "contribution will include in-kind donations from corporate partners including Nike." The cost for a marathon title sponsorship "depends on the race's size and prestige," but ranges from about $150,000 for the Seattle Marathon (about 11,000 runners) to $2-3M for the ING N.Y. Marathon. The Austin race, now known as the Livestrong Marathon & Half Marathon, "ranks as the 23rd-largest marathon" in the U.S., and organizers "will cap entry at a combined 20,000 runners" between the two races for next year's event, on Feb. 20. Ulman said that the sponsorship will "help build awareness in the fight against cancer" (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 6/9). The Austin marathon in its 20-year history "has had three other title sponsors" -- Motorola, Freescale Semiconductor and AT&T. Race Dir John Conley said that the '09 and '10 races "did not have sponsors because of the strained economy" (, 6/8).

  • Nike Losing Market Share In Women As Skechers, Reebok See Gains

    Reebok's EasyTone Shoes Helping Company
    Gain Women's Market Share At Nike's Expense

    Nike's sales of women's footwear last month "declined by mid-single digits even as the category grew in the teens," and it is "no mystery where they went: Skechers and Reebok," according to Jeremy Mullman of AD AGE. SportsOneSource indicated that Nike's share of the U.S. women's footwear market "slipped to 29% last month, down from 36.5% in the year-earlier period." Skechers meanwhile "tripled its share during the same period, climbing to 16.5% from 5.5%, and Reebok nearly did the same, jumping to 8% from 3.3%." Both Skechers and Reebok "have invested heavily in the hugely popular segment of toning shoes," and a running version of Reebok's toning shoes and a "related apparel line are hitting the market soon." The shoes will not have "toning-category competition from Nike, which continues to sneer at the space." Mullman notes Nike "refuses to sell toning shoes, which it says don't fit with its performance-obsessed brand." A Nike spokesperson in a statement said that the company "has a range of new women's products set for fall and winter release," and Nike President & CEO Mark Parker last month "promised 'more compelling presentations at retail' aimed at women, calling the category 'a massive opportunity' for the company." But SportsOneSource analyst Matt Powell said that part of Nike's "problem" is a "surge among competitors who talk to women in a very different manner than Nike does." Nike's "testosterone-soaked 'Just Do It' tone has always been an uneasy fit with women." Mullman notes Reebok "in recent years refocused on its core women consumers, and those efforts are clearly paying off -- at Nike's expense." Reebok VP/Brand Strategy & Women's Business Katrin Ley: "There is a huge market opportunity out there that is not attracted by win-at-all-costs communication" (AD AGE, 6/7 issue).

  • European Retailers Offer Promotions Tied To World Cup Results

    Some European retailers "have offered to repay customers for purchased television sets, cars, road navigation systems and vacation trips" depending on which national team wins the FIFA World Cup, according to Julia Werdigier of the N.Y. TIMES. British bank Nationwide is "offering higher interest rates on a bond if England wins the tournament." The company said that the four-year “Football Bond” pays a "fixed rate of 4.15 percent a year, but 4.65 percent if England wins the World Cup." French retailer Carrefour has offered to "refund the cost of some flat-screen televisions if the national team wins," while Toshiba has hired Sky Sports' Chris Kamara to "advertise the same offer for televisions and laptops in Britain." GPS maker TomTom is "promising to refund money to customers on specific purchases in nine countries, including Germany, Mexico and Spain, if their respective team wins." Meanwhile, Slovenia's tourist board joined with some British tour operators to offer 25%, 50% or 100% "refunds to anyone booking a trip depending on how far the Slovenian team advances in the tournament." In Germany, Mercedes-Benz "promises customers agreeing to a car lease a discount if Germany wins the World Cup." British retailer Currys has offered to pay £10 (US$14) "for every goal England scores to any customer who spent" at least £599, or US$867, on a TV. Werdigier notes most of the promotions "end before the tournament starts" on Friday and many companies "hedged their risk" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/9).  

  • World Cup Marketing Notes: adidas Unveils Final Video Spot

    Watch adidas' "The Quest" Spot

    adidas yesterday launched "The Quest," the culmination of its "Every Team Needs" video series promoting the FIFA World Cup that features Brazil MF Kaka, England MF Steven Gerrard, Argentina F Lionel Messi, former France MF Zinedine Zidane and others. "The Quest" invites fans to visit adidas' Facebook page to engage in "Match-ups," which compare abilities and stats of marquee players of key matches in order to provoke debate amongst fans (adidas). Meanwhile, in L.A., Kevin Baxter reports adidas "in response to the critics" of its Jabulani World Cup ball has "launched a damage-control campaign, dispatching many of the players on its payroll ... to counter the criticism." Germany MF Michael Ballack said the ball is "fantastic," and England MF Frank Lampard predicted "a lot more spectacular goals ... and a lot more spectacular misses." Kaka "went even further, grabbing a ball and giving it a kiss last week at Brazil's Johannesburg hotel." Kaka: "Everything that's new, new technology, makes a different impression. But who knows if that won't change during the World Cup?" (L.A. TIMES, 6/9).

    MALE DELIVERY: In Manchester, Mark Sweney notes although almost half of World Cup viewers "will be women, with a record number of female viewers expected around the world," most advertisers buying TV slots during the tournament in the U.K. "will still be focusing on men." ITV is asking advertisers "to pay a pretty penny to tap into the massive World Cup audiences," as a single 30-second spot in England's games against the U.S. and Algeria that air exclusively in the U.K. on the net are priced just under US$440,000. ITV's sales operation also is "pushing advertisers to buy into packages of games, or face higher prices for individual matches." Sweney writes despite the "promise of large audiences, such costs are prohibitive for many brands that might otherwise look to go beyond the typical male-focused World Cup ad campaign and target female viewers" (GUARDIAN, 6/9).

    Watch Kit Kat's "Cross Your Fingers" Spot

    BREAK ME OFF A PIECE: BRAND REPUBLIC's Arif Durrani reports Kit Kat is "successfully hijacking" the World Cup in the U.K. "despite not paying hundreds of thousands of pounds on sponsorship deals like rival Mars." Among viewers who had seen both the Mars ad and a Kit Kat spot, Kit Kat "was the clear favourite, with its 'Cross your fingers' concept described as 'clever' and 'more relevant'" (, 6/9). Meanwhile, MEDIAWEEK's Sara Kimberley reported Kit Kat will sponsor all of BSkyB's World Cup coverage "as part of the UK's largest dedicated mobile campaign to date." The "six-figure deal, brokered by Mindshare, will see Kit Kat sponsor Sky's World Cup coverage across iPhone, iPod Touch, Smartphones and all other WAP-enabled mobile devices" (, 6/7).

    NOT VERY SUBTLE: YAHOO SPORTS' Ryan Bailey reported CCTV to raise awareness of its World Cup coverage in China "gathered 22 scantily-clad ladies together at a Changchun shopping center and made them kick a ball around in the mud until neither team was discernable from the other." Bailey wrote China is not known for "salacious advertising campaigns, but that could all be about to change" (, 6/7).

  • Kentucky Horse Racing Commission Approves Jockey Ad Regulations

    KHRC Approves Jockey
    Ad Regulations

    The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission "has unanimously approved new regulations on jockey advertising, requiring that any agreements between riders, owners, and sponsors, file those documents with the regulatory body," according to Ron Mitchell of BLOODHORSE. The KHRC yesterday "approved the new regulations with a stipulation that they be implemented as emergency regulations," and KHRC Exec Dir Lisa Underwood said that they "would go into effect June 15." Under previous regulations, the commission rules stipulated "various conditions that must be met by the respective parties before the advertisements, in the form of logos worn by the jockeys on their pants, could be used." In addition to requiring that the agreements be filed with the KHRC, the new regulations also "provide for written approval before someone else could act as agent on behalf of an owner in connection with the ads, and provide that any advertising agreements must be approved two days prior to the race card where the ads are to appear." Jockeys' Guild National Manager Terry Meyocks said that "several aspects of the regulations, including releasing the terms of the agreements to the commission, will have a negative impact" (, 6/8). DAILY RACING FORM's Matt Hegarty reported the regulations "will still need to pass legislative review," though they will "go into effect immediately." Jockeys' Guild attorney Mindy Coleman said that the organization "will explore whether to file objections to the new amendment as it goes through the legislature" (, 6/8). In Louisville, Gregory Hall notes representatives of jockeys, owners, trainers and Churchill Downs "all have objected to the disclosure provision, saying many sponsors may not want that to be disclosed to a state agency and, possibly, the public" (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 6/9).

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