SBD/Issue 31/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

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  • GM Nearing Deal To Sponsor WGC Event At Doral, PGA Tournaments

    WGC Event At Doral Had Been Title
    Sponsored By CA For Past Five Years

    General Motors and the PGA Tour are “in the final stages of negotiations to put the Cadillac brand on the World Golf Championship event at venerable Doral Resort and possibly other tournaments,” according to sources cited by Michael Smith of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. GM, which declared bankruptcy in June ‘09, was “absent from the golf sponsorship scene this year as it restructured and repaid $6.7 billion in TARP funds to the U.S. Treasury.” But an agreement with the PGA Tour that “could span multiple tournaments would send a strong signal that the automaker is ready to spend again.” GM would not comment specifically on a return to golf, but did say that it “will spend money as needed to market its products.” Smith writes, “For one of GM’s first big purchases after bankruptcy to come in golf wouldn’t be a surprise.” It remains to be seen “just how deeply GM will embed the Cadillac brand in the PGA Tour.” WGC title sponsorships typically go for $10-12M a year, and GM “could spend more if it sponsors other tournaments.” GM’s financial troubles “led it to end the PGA Tour official deal last year, as well as two title sponsorships on the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines and the Buick Open in Grand Blanc, Mich.” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 10/25 issue).

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  • Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Reportedly Considering Switch To Ford

    Earnhardt Ganassi Has Been Running
    Chevrolet Engines In Sprint Cup Series

    Ford reportedly "initiated discussions" with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing in July about switching to its cars, and a decision "could come as early as next week," according to sources cited by Lee Spencer of FOXSPORTS.com. However, EGR co-Owner Chip Ganassi "brushed off the possibility as 'just a rumor'" at Charlotte Motor Speedway earlier this month. Gannasi's teams currently run Chevrolet in NASCAR, Honda in IndyCar and BMW in Grand-Am. Ganassi is "coming off the most successful year of his motorsports career," as "not only did his team win the tour championships in both IndyCar and the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, Ganassi drivers were victorious in the top three races in America -- the Indianapolis 500, the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400." The "depth of technology and data that Ganassi has to offer through competing in three different series has to be equally attractive to Ford." The team "stands to benefit through the support the company would receive from Ford both on a financial and technological basis." Spencer noted when it comes to the "pecking order" at Chevrolet, EGR "lags far behind Hendrick Motorsports, Richard Childress Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing, who shares an allegiance with Hendrick." EGR "would be second only to" Roush Fenway Racing at Ford. The area that "would hit Ganassi the hardest would be the loss of the company's partnership with Earnhardt Childress Racing Technology engines -- currently one of the top programs in the garage." ECRT "currently provides engines for Richard Childress Racing, EGR and Tommy Baldwin Racing," and Furniture Row Racing "will join the program next year" (FOXSPORTS.com, 10/23).

    SEVERING TIES: Red Bull Racing GM & VP Jay Frye on Friday said that the team “will field only two teams next season with Kasey Kahne in the No. 82 car and Brian Vickers in the No. 83.” Frye said that “speculation that the No. 82 car would be changed to the No. 4 for Kahne next season is premature, noting that there is an issue with Morgan-McClure, which retains the rights to the number.” Kahne said that he has “agreed to maintain his commitments to sponsor Budweiser for the remainder of the season, including all meet and greets.” He added that “this was not the way he wanted to end his relationship with Budweiser or RPM, but reiterated it was best for all parties.” Kahne: “I feel like I’ve done what I need to do there” (ESPN.com, 10/22).

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  • NBA Sponsors Gearing Up For Start Of Anticipated '10-11 Season

    Some of the NBA’s biggest sponsors are coalescing in support of this week’s season opening. Kia NBA Tip-Off '10 sees the carmaker advertising across TV, digital and social media platforms, and leveraging its 13 NBA team deals, all in support of its 2011 Optima midsize luxury sedan. Hewlett-Packard is activating at Office Depot stores in 15 cities with its "Make the Smart Play" sweepstakes, which offers a trip for four to the NBA All-Star Game, along with regular-season tickets and luxury suites as prizes. State Farm and Pepperidge Farm also have sweepstakes promos. Bacardi is staging an on-premise NBA activation across the country on Thursday nights. Telecom sponsor T-Mobile’s activation will start later this year as the sponsor for NBA All-Star Game balloting. "Obviously, there was a lot of noise during our offseason about the NBA -- maybe the most ever," said NBA Senior VP/Global Marketing Partnerships Emilio Collins. "Combine that with a very attractive All-Star Game market in L.A. and you’ve got a group of enthusiastic corporate partners." The ‘10-11 NBA season starts tomorrow on TNT, when the Heat and its new free-agent trio of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh visit the Celtics. ESPN’s NBA schedule begins with doubleheaders on Wednesday and Friday, highlighted by the Heat’s home opener against the Magic.

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  • Under Armour Aims To Surpass Nike As Biggest Basketball Brand

    Bucks G Brandon Jennings Will Endorse The
    Launch Of Under Armour's Debut Micro G Line

    Under Armour on Saturday launched its debut basketball shoe line, Micro G, in its efforts to "take on Nike," according to Matt Townsend of BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK. Under Armour Chair & CEO Kevin Plank said, "Our goal for getting into basketball is to be number one. I’m 38. I’ve got a long time.” With its foray into basketball shoes, Under Armour "confronts not just Nike’s 95 percent market share and the billions it spends on marketing." SportsOneSource analyst Matt Powell indicated that "sales of basketball shoes in the U.S. have slid for the past three years as fewer people play the sport." Waddel & Reed Financial analyst Nathan Brown cautioned that "another failure in athletic shoes could hurt Under Armour’s long-term prospects." Brown: "If the basketball shoe doesn’t do well there will be questions because now you’ll have strike two and critics will say this company can’t ever be a footwear company." Plank contends that Under Armour has "learned from its previous missteps." He called the decision to promote the company's training shoe in an '08 Super Bowl ad three months before it hit stores "pretty cocky." Plank said that the release of the Micro G, endorsed by Bucks G Brandon Jennings, "will be a less splashy affair." Townsend noted there are "no big ad buys," and a "small number of pairs will land at national retailers" and urban stores. As Plank prepared for the shoe's launch, he "exhorted his employees to start thinking of Under Armour as a footwear brand not just an apparel maker." He told them to "cut the word 'apparel' from voicemail messages and trashed a mat in the company’s headquarters featuring the word." Plank added: "I called our marketing team and said go through this building and find anything that says we are only an apparel brand and throw it away" (BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK, 10/22). Under Armour Senior VP/Footwear Gene McCarthy said that the company "will be taking things slowly in building a relationship with customers," noting that it is "next fall when Under Armour will move more confidently" (Portland OREGONIAN, 10/23).

    ADDING POWER TO THE LINEUP: In this week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, Terry Lefton reports Under Armour is "close to completing a deal that would gain it the rights to manufacture performance footwear with MLB logos and the ability to use its stable of baseball players in advertising wearing MLB uniforms." Sources indicated that "no apparel rights will be included in the deal, and that the first Under Armour MLB shoes are expected at retail by early next year." The company's MLB endorsers include Rays P Rafael Soriano, Nationals 3B Ryan Zimmerman and Baseball HOFer Cal Ripken Jr. (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 10/25 issue).

    Launch Of The LeBron 8 Marks Start Of
    Important NBA Season For Nike

    READY FOR TIP-OFF: In Portland, Allan Brettman reported Nike tomorrow night will "roll out its new LEBRON 8 shoe" as Heat F LeBron James "takes the court in his first regular season game" for his new franchise. The launch marks the "beginning of an important season for Nike, which dominates the basketball shoe market to a degree not often seen in clothing and apparel circles." Smaller companies are "on the horizon, hoping to carve market share away from Nike," and the Oregon-based company is "being forced to look increasingly overseas for new customers, mindful that the U.S. appetite for basketball shoes, apparel and equipment may not grow much more." SportsOneSource's Powell noted Nike in the past "has used James in commercials that established the Nike brand and did not necessarily sell a shoe or specific product." He said, "It will be interesting to see whether (Nike) pulls back on the branding things they've done with him. It will depend a lot on what happens on the court" (Portland OREGONIAN, 10/23). Meanwhile, Brettman reported adidas is banking on its new "Fast Don't Lie" campaign, "linked to the launch of the NBA season this week, to attract customers like never before -- and perhaps grow the company's low single-digit share of the U.S. basketball shoes market." adidas VP/Global Basketball Lawrence Norman said that the effort, featuring Magic C Dwight Howard and Bulls G Derrick Rose, "will be the single biggest ad campaign in the company's history" (Portland OREGONIAN, 10/23).

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  • Marketplace Roundup

    Rangers American League Champions
    T-Shirt Was The Hot Item Friday Night

    In Dallas, Deborah Fleck noted the MLB Rangers won the AL pennant Friday, and fans “found empty shelves and long lines as they headed out Saturday morning to buy gear to celebrate the team’s first trip to the World Series.” The Grand Slam Gift Shop at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington “sold out of what everyone wanted -- those red T-shirts emblazoned with the words ‘American League Champions.’” Staff at Academy Sports & Outdoors in Irving “had promised to stay open until they sold out of championship gear,” which they did soon after the Rangers clinched the pennant on Friday night. Dallas-area Dick’s Sporting Goods stores opened at 7:00am CT Saturday and by “early afternoon, the Dick’s store in Dallas had nothing left.” The team's official merchandise store in downtown Dallas also “had no championship gear when it opened” on Saturday morning (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 10/24).

    GIANT RUSH: The Giants won the NL pennant Saturday, and staff members at AT&T Park’s Giants Dugout said that fans “flocked" to the store Sunday morning, "standing in line for a half-hour in the rain before the shop opened” at 9:30am PT. Workers said that the store “scheduled extra staff … in order to deal with the expected crush.” Featured merchandise “included new black-and-orange T-shirts." Store workers said that “more items, many of which are already for sale online, will be added throughout the week, including fitted hats and sweatshirts” (S.F. EXAMINER, 10/25). 

    GOING GLOBAL: adidas on Friday announced that it has extended its deal as a sponsor and sportswear supplier of EPL club Chelsea for eight more years. MARKETING WEEK's Joanne Oatts noted adidas has sponsored the club since '06. The two “have previously partnered with American youth football clubs to help develop US soccer, and launched ‘Blue Pitches,’ a campaign aimed at encouraging young kids to participate in sport.” Chelsea and adidas now “have plans to roll the project out globally, after initially launching in Hong Kong and London” (MARKETINGWEEK.co.uk, 10/22).

    SETTING A STANDARD: Rio 2016 this month revealed its Olympic Games Commercial Plan that “promises to raise more than $600 million in sponsorships and licensing.” The organizing committee forecasts $270M in domestic investment, $288M in foreign funds and $45M in licensing. The host city “will use advertising agencies to help with the plan.” Organizers “will present details at a sponsorship event in Rio slated for Nov. 25” (AROUNDTHERINGS.com. 10/23). 

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