SBD/October 27, 2010/Marketing and Sponsorship

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  • Joke's On You: LeBron Says New Nike Spot Not Intended To Be Funny

    Watch Nike's Latest Spot
    Featuring LeBron James

    Heat F LeBron James yesterday said that the message in his new Nike spot is "dead serious," even though several of its scenes "seemed intended to invoke humor," according to Brian Windhorst of The 90-second ad debuted on TNT during last night's season-opening Heat-Celtics game after Nike launched it online on Monday, and James said, "None of (the scenes) were jokes, I wasn’t in a joking mood." Windhorst noted James in the commercial "seems to challenge his detractors, including a direct shot" at Basketball HOFer Charles Barkley. James said, "It was just how I was feeling at the time, it is still how I feel at some points in my life. I just wanted to get it out. … It was me just hearing a lot of people saying some of the things I’ve done -- have I ruined what I’ve done over the years" (, 10/26). James indicated that he and Nike "collaborated on ideas" for the spot, via Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, "largely on what James had experienced" since announcing his plans to sign with the Heat in an ESPN special. Since many critics said that he had "ruined his legacy, he included a scene that had him speaking at his Hall of Fame induction to an audience of none." James yesterday said, "I'm not saying I'm a Hall of Famer, but I'm heading in the right direction" (PALM BEACH POST, 10/27). James: "The mindset that was behind everything was what went on this summer and my life to this point. I wanted to try to get the message out there and let everyone know how I was feeling at the time and how I'm still feeling to this day" ("Inside The NBA," TNT, 10/26).

    FIT FOR A KING? In Cleveland, Bud Shaw wrote the Nike spot is "smart and funny in pieces." But he added, "Taken as a whole, it's LeBron feeling sorry for himself because ... well, I'm not sure why. Because he took some real criticism for the first time in his life?" (, 10/26). ESPN's Jim Rome said, "The entire spot was, in essence, a defense for what he did. ... The spot was slick and it was entertaining, but the words would mean a lot more if they came from him and weren't written for him by Nike or an ad agency" ("Jim Rome Is Burning," ESPN, 10/26). ESPN's Scott Van Pelt said, "You can't be the global icon, you can't sit on top of the throne on top of the mountain where the wind blows the highest, and get sensitive when people take shots at you" ("The Scott Van Pelt Show," ESPN2, 10/26). ABC's George Stephanopoulos said Nike "always goes for the controversy." Stephanopoulos: "I can't help but think this is pretty good for Nike. I'm not so sure it's good for LeBron" ("GMA," ABC, 10/27).

    STRIKES THE RIGHT TONE: L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke said of the ad, "I thought it was tremendous because it showed him as a human being. We've seen him and we've vilified him and again, he deserved to be vilified. But this showed him ... as a 25-year-old kid. It was very, very good." Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw: "It makes fun of LeBron, it makes fun of all the stuff around LeBron." Denver Post columnist Woody Paige said Nike and Wieden + Kennedy at least have James "on the right track of trying to reach out to people and kind of apologizing and saying, 'What do you want me to do?'" Paige: "This is going to be good for his image" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 10/26). Comcast SportsNet's Barry Svrluga said, "This is a very clever ploy, but I think at some point they are going to have to move this aside and win a championship" ("Washington Post Live," Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic, 10/26). USA TODAY's Tom Weir writes, "This effort by Nike certainly works better than the one in which a stone-faced Tiger Woods listened to his father's voice from the grave." However, USA TODAY's Reid Cherner writes James is "in full Col. Jessep mode" from the movie "A Few Good Men," and he "would rather you just said thank you and went on your way" (USA TODAY, 10/27).

    NO HARD FEELINGS: Barkley was the guest on ESPN’s “PTI” yesterday, and he discussed James’ commercial, in which ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser noted James “takes a real shot at you in his new Nike commercial, citing your own role model ad before chomping on a pink doughnut and saying, 'Hi, Chuck,' and winking.” Kornheiser: “What was your reaction when you saw it?" Barkley: "I thought it was flat-out awesome. Clearly, you know that I'm a Nike guy, and for them to take the time to respond to me, I thought it was flat-out awesome." ESPN's Michael Wilbon asked, "Do you think Michael Jordan would have a similar sense of humor about this if he feels LeBron's ad took a shot at him?" Barkley: "If you did something to Michael in the first grade, third grade or sixth grade, he's going to hate you for life. No, he don't take it the way I will" ("PTI," ESPN, 10/26).

    Watch Jordan Brand's Spot
    Featuring Dwyane Wade

    FLASH FORWARD: Nike's Jordan Brand yesterday released a new ad starring Heat G Dwyane Wade, and's Ben Golliver wrote the commercial's goal is "far less ambitious" that the new James ad. Golliver: "Rather than put forth a defense of the events from this past summer, it simply looks forward to the excitement of the new-look Heat, tagging along as Wade flies through the sky and rides recklessly on a motorcycle like a James Bond style action hero." The spot closes with Wade saying, "Now this, my friend, is going to be fun." Golliver noted it is the "right note for Wade to strike, because he has nothing to apologize for and nobody to apologize to for what happened this offseason." Golliver: "Simple, effective and familiar, this spot won't have nearly the staying power of LeBron's, but that doesn't mean it isn't intelligent and well-intentioned too" (, 10/26).'s Jon Weinbach discussed the two ads and noted it is almost like Nike is "setting them up as two different kinds of tent pole movie franchise heroes." Weinbach: "LeBron is maybe more sympathetic, maybe less of an action hero, and Dwyane Wade is some kind of hybrid Batman/Superman action hero. It has nothing to do with the shoes. ... The Dwyane Wade ad seems like something else, for another product, easily forgettable. The LeBron one really stands out." Weinbach added the Wade spot is not "really attached to anything related to the Dwyane Wade brand as opposed to the LeBron spot, which really hits everything" ("Outside The Lines," ESPN, 10/26).

    Print | Tags: Marketing and Sponsorship, Nike
  • Sony Considers Future As World Cup Sponsor Amid FIFA Allegations

    Sony Has Not Decided Whether To Continue As World Cup Sponsor Beyond '14 Tourney

    Sony Europe Head of Sponsorship Toby Shaw said that the company “is still looking at its backing of the World Cup” as FIFA “probes allegations of corruption in its executive committee,” according to Tariq Panja of BLOOMBERG NEWS. Shaw said that the “investigation into the bidding for the 2018 and 2022 events ‘isn’t great’ for companies in discussions about supporting the tournament.” He also indicated that FIFA sponsors “would prefer to associate themselves with the World Cup rather than the organization itself.” Shaw: “We don’t say we’re a partner of FIFA. We say we’re a partner of the World Cup.” Sony is one of “only six official FIFA partners” and will “keep that status” for the ’14 World Cup in Brazil. But Shaw said that it “hasn’t been decided whether to continue beyond then.” Shaw: “We concentrate on whether it’s right for our business going forward. We are still evaluating the last World Cup.” Panja noted FIFA’s marketing team is “pitching this week for the 2018 and 2022 events” (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 10/26).

    SOCCER, EH? In Toronto, Rita Trichur reports the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce announced yesterday that it has “signed a new sponsorship with Visa” for the ’14 World Cup. The new deal in the retail banking category “comes on the heels of its FIFA World Cup broadcast sponsorship earlier this year.” Meanwhile, sources said that Bank of Montreal is “gearing up to make a significant soccer-related announcement” tomorrow. Sources “expect that BMO will extend its sponsorship of soccer” to the Vancouver Whitecaps, which will join MLS next season. Trichur writes CIBC “used to be known as Canada’s pre-eminent soccer bank, a designation that BMO has taken great pains to claim in recent years” (TORONTO STAR, 10/27).

    Print | Tags: Marketing and Sponsorship, Sony
  • Sun Mountain Expects Sales To Drop After Ryder Cup Disaster

    Sun Mountain Still Contends That Its Gear Did Not Leak For U.S. Ryder Cup Players

    Sun Mountain Sports Owner Rick Reimers expected "sales to take a hit" after U.S. Ryder Cup golfers complained about the company's rain gear, but he "hasn't seen any evidence" yet, according to Doug Ferguson of the AP. The company's rain gear reportedly did not keep the golfers dry, and some longtime Sun Mountain customers "don’t understand the complaints and continue to buy, while prospective customers have shied away because of the Ryder Cup." With most of the opening day of the Ryder Cup postponed because of rain, Sun Mountain's rain suits "turned into the big story." Reimers: "We were pretty depressed. It was hard to talk directly to anyone using the garment. We didn’t know any more than what was being reported in the press. And it turns out, that was the only thing to talk about." Ferguson noted the company "immediately tried to figure out what happened with its RainFlex gear." Reimers had an employee "put on a rain jacket and stand in the shower for two hours." Reimers: "We couldn't see that it leaked anywhere." The company also "ran tests at an independent lab that showed the suits were waterproof." Reimers said of the Ryder Cup, "We think nobody got wet with rain coming through the garment. ... When something gets soaked, it feels cold on the skin. People might interpret that as being wet." Ferguson noted Reimers has been "remarkably honest in the wake of such bad publicity." He said that he "heard from one prominent Ryder Cup player who told him he liked the rain suit and didn’t understand all the fuss." The company is "in the running to supply the U.S. Presidents Cup team with rain gear," as it did in '09, and Reimers said that the PGA Tour "already has asked for samples" (AP, 10/26).

    Print | Tags: Golf, Marketing and Sponsorship
  • Wheels & Deals: Earnhardt Ganassi Plans To Stay With Chevy’s David Newton reported Earnhardt Ganassi Racing officials “don’t deny that Ford has approached them about switching manufacturers” next year, but EGR officials said that “there are no plans to leave Chevrolet." That is due in part to the "long-standing relationship the Earnhardt part of this equation has with General Motors, not to mention the Earnhardt Childress Racing engines that arguably are the best in the business at the moment.” However, there likely is a part of EGR co-owner Chip Ganassi that would "like to start his own engine department again.” Ganassi admits that “shutting down that operation was one of the toughest things he’s had to do when the merger with Dale Earnhardt Inc. happened a few years ago” (, 10/26).

    REMEMBERING THE INTIMIDATOR: EGR and Bass Pro Shops “will pay tribute to racing legend” Dale Earnhardt’s induction into the NASCAR HOF during this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Amp Energy Juice 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. Jamie McMurray’s No. 1 Chevy will “feature the same black and gold paint scheme that was first used by Earnhardt in the 1998 All Star Race and was a salute to conservation and the American outdoorsman.” The scheme “commemorates the 10th anniversary of Earnhardt’s 76th and final Cup victory, which came in the fall race at Talladega.” Diecast cars, T-shirts, caps and memorabilia commemorating the car and Earnhardt are "available at Bass Pro Shops stores and on their website as well as other retailers" (, 10/26).

    MORE ON RPM'S UNCERTAINTY: ESPN's Terry Blount cited sources as saying Richard Petty is trying to put together a group of investors to buy Richard Petty Motorsports, but Blount noted "what people need to remember here is that Richard Petty owns less than 5% of this team." Blount: "He is really a figurehead here. They are using his name and for good reason, obviously. For him to be able to put together a deal on short notice to salvage this appears to be unlikely." RPM officials have said they plan to run the remainder of the '10 Sprint Cup Series, but the plans for '11 are unclear due to the team's uncertain financial status. ESPN's Alan Petree said of the effect RPM potentially shutting down could have on NASCAR, "There's really good talent over there and there are not a lot of places to go" ("NASCAR Now," ESPN2, 10/26).

    BRAND APPEAL: Sponsorship measurement firm Joyce Julius & Associates found that during last Sunday’s episode of CBS' “Undercover Boss” that featured NASCAR CMO & Senior VP Steve Phelps, 84 brands accumulated a combined 29 minutes, 57 seconds (29:57) of clear in-focus exposure time, three verbal references and an overall exposure value of $2.7M. Coca-Cola earned nearly $440,000 of in-broadcast exposure value from having its logo appear for more than three minutes throughout the show as Phelps operated a concession stand at Daytona Int'l Speedway wearing a NASCAR hat and Coca-Cola apron. Phelps also worked as a tire specialist for Michael Waltrip Racing’s No. 00 car, giving sponsor Aaron’s the most on-screen time of any brand throughout the show with a total of 3:26, leading to an exposure value of $371,900 (Joyce Julius & Associates).

    Print | Tags: Marketing and Sponsorship
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