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Bryant Inks Two-Year
Deal With Turkish Airlines
Lakers G Kobe Bryant has signed a deal with Turkish Airlines (THY), "committing to appear in THY advertisements for the next two years," according to English-language Turkish newspaper TODAY'S ZAMAN. THY in a statement said that "commercials with Bryant will be shown globally but that the focus of the campaign will be on the US market and on the Far East and the Middle East." Bryant as part of the deal will "participate in a number of public relations events for THY and special gatherings with his fans around the world," promoting the airline. The first spot will air "in more than 80 countries in the first quarter of 2011." Ads also will appear on "many other outlets including billboards, magazines, dailies and digital environment." In addition, Turkish Airlines is "improving and adding to its destinations in the Americas." The airline, which has been flying to N.Y. and Chicago "for a long time and added Toronto and Sao Paulo a couple of years ago, recently added" DC as a destination, with L.A. coming soon (TODAY'S ZAMAN, 12/13). CNBC.com's Darren Rovell reports the two-year deal involves Bryant "starring in a promotional film that will be aired on international television channels and in movie theatres in more than 80 countries next year." Bryant said that as "part of the deal he’ll make several trips to the country." The Lakers star last year signed a deal with Chinese web company Sina.com to start a blog on the site, and he said, "This [is] another deal for me that proves that we’re global. And it obviously makes sense with them starting flights from L.A." (CNBC.com, 12/13).
Mercedes-Benz and Audi of America today are expected to unveil "separate plans to launch high-profile social-media contests" as part of their Super Bowl XLV ad efforts that "offer hefty prizes to consumers who best use unconventional social-media tactics to tweet and digitally tout" the brands before the Feb. 6 game, according to Bruce Horovitz of USA TODAY. Mercedes-Benz plans to launch "The World's First Twitter-Fueled Race," which awards "two new cars to the two-person team of social-media wizards that garners for Mercedes-Benz the most tweets, Facebook 'likes' and social-media currency by game day." Similarly, Audi will "host an Audi Inner Circle social-media contest open to everyone." The auto manufacturer will look for "its 10 'most active' social-media fans" before the Super Bowl, awarding "glitzy trips and other prizes to the fans whose social-media posts are most original and most numerous." Horovitz notes most "major marketers in the 2011 Super Bowl will have strong social-media components in their campaigns." Social-media consultant Jay Baer warns that most efforts "won't be able to stand out amidst the flood of 'Let's Do a Facebook Contest About the Super Bowl' marketing lemmings." However, social-media consultant Pam Moore said, "The ones that don't do it will be left behind." All 68 commercial slots for the Fox broadcast "have sold out -- months earlier than in the past few years" (USA TODAY, 12/13).
HSBC Will Title Sponsor Abu Dhabi
Golf Championship Beginning In '11
HSBC Private Bank has agreed to a "partnership with the golf division of IMG Worldwide," according to Tara Loader Wilkinson of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The agreement is the "latest step in a five-year plan by HSBC to build up a global golf strategy, culminating in two five-year sponsorship deals with leading events." HSBC will become "title sponsor at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship next January and at the 2011 British Open in July." It also will become the official patron of the British Open, replacing RBS, which "ended its partnership with the tournament after nine years." The partnership with IMG will allow HSBC Holdings PLC's global private-banking division to "pitch its wealth advisory services to the agency's star-studded roster of athletes, while offering the bank's best clients an opportunity to play in pro-am competitions with the world's elite golfers and attend the most exclusive players' events." A source said HSBC will provide "millions" in sponsorship. An IMG spokesperson indicated that the bank will boost the prize money for the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship by $500,000 to $2.7M. Mark Pannes, Dir of the global sports group at HSBC Private Bank, said that the deal also will "complement the bank's aggressive foray into the Asian high net-worth market" (WSJ.com, 12/12).
Nike LeBron VIII Was Best-Selling Basketball
Shoe During The Month Of November
Heat F LeBron James “heads into the holiday season with the best selling basketball shoe and the best selling jersey," according to Darren Rovell of CNBC.com. SportsOneSource analyst Matt Powell said that Nike’s LeBron VIII, which hit stores on Oct. 26, is the “best selling basketball shoe for the month of November” and that sales of the shoe generated 20% “more business than the next most popular basketball shoe that month, the Jordan IX.” Powell “admits that Nike gave LeBron the chance to sell well because of the quantity of the shoe that it made, but the fact that they sold the way they did at a $160 price point means James is clearly still very marketable.” Powell added that the "feel and the design of the LeBron shoe also have to do with its positive sales number.” He said that James also “leads the league in jersey sales and is one of the reasons why the Heat lead the league in team sales market share at 23 percent of the total marketplace” (CNBC.com, 12/10).
FASHIONABLE FOOTWEAR: In N.Y. , Fred Bierman reported Wizards G Gilbert Arenas “has been wearing a different pair of shoes every game, from Under Armours to throwback Jordans and other Nikes.” Arenas “decided to wear a pair of Dolce & Gabbana high tops” valued at $395 last Tuesday during the Wizards-Lakers game. Arenas’ “sneaker free agency is because Adidas dropped him as a spokesman after his guilty plea for carrying a pistol without a license” (N.Y. TIMES, 12/12). Meanwhile, DIME MAGAZINE’s Aron Phillips noted Wizard G John Wall during last week's game against the Lakers debuted the “Great Wall” version of the Reebok ZigTech Slash sneaker that features The Great Wall of China. The Chinese words on the shoe translate to “Humble & Hungry,” which “is a saying that Wall lives by” (DIMEMAG.com, 12/8).
BEHIND THE DESIGN: The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Miguel Bustillo profiled Nike sneaker designer Eric Avar, who is “celebrated in the ‘sneakerhead’ subculture for fashioning shoes that not only boost performance but are also objects of beauty.” Avar: “Good design is a marriage of science and art. Telling a story is also really important.” Avar and his team in '06 “compiled a 20-page guidebook of Kobe-isms to forge the spirit” of Lakers F Kobe Bryant’s sneakers. Bryant “will debut the latest version of the shoe, the $130 snakeskin-styled Zoom Kobe IV,” on Dec. 25 during the Heat-Lakers game (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/11).
Scott Speed's Lawsuit Against Red Bull Racing
Claims Team Wasn't Funded At Necessary Level
NASCAR driver Scott Speed filed a $6.5M breach-of-contract lawsuit on Friday "against Red Bull Racing, the team that released" him after the '10 Sprint Cup Series season. Speed claims in the lawsuit, which was filed in North Carolina Superior Court, that RBR "did not fund the team as necessary to compete at the Cup level." The $6.5M figure "represents the salary Speed would have received" from '11-13, in addition to a $500,000 reduction for '10. Speed last week said that the "filing of the lawsuit was in hopes of being able to pay bills due next year, given that the chances of now getting a ride for 2011 are slim." Speed had "been a Red Bull athlete for more than seven years and competed in Formula One for the energy drink company" in '06-07 (SCENEDAILY.com, 12/10).
CHANGING LANES? SI.com's Tom Bowles reported Robby Gordon could leave NASCAR and join "the IndyCar ranks." Gordon's Sprint Cup program "has sponsorship for only a handful of races," and sources indicated that he "has grown weary of trying to fight a losing battle as a single-car, independent owner/driver on the circuit." Bowles noted "off-road sponsors like Monster Energy Drink are the only ones helping keep the No. 7 afloat right now, hungry for the additional exposure NASCAR's fan bases gives their product." Should the Izod IndyCar Series "continue its upward swing, there's a strong possibility the former open-wheel regular might move in that direction for 2012 and beyond" (SI.com, 12/10).
HOME IS (NOT) WHERE THE HEART IS: In Indianapolis, Curt Cavin noted Tony Kanaan landing a ride in the IndyCar Series next season "won't be difficult; getting one that pays well likely will be." Fellow Brazilian driver Vitor Meira last week said that "companies in their home country don't figure to provide the level of sponsorship that Kanaan seeks." Cavin noted Kanaan's "most likely IndyCar option continues to be the team owned by fellow Brazilian Gil de Ferran, but Kanaan also has investigated Kyle Busch's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team." Meira himself last week "inadvertently tweeted" that he has signed a two-year contract to remain with A.J. Foyt Racing (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 12/11).
Best Buy Will Not Renew Jersey
Sponsor Deal With MLS Fire
In Chicago, Ed Sherman reported Best Buy has informed the MLS Fire that the company “won’t renew its deal” with the team after being its uniform sponsor since ’08. A Best Buy spokesperson said that the “decision was based on Best Buy deciding to go in a different direction.” The Fire “anticipated Best Buy’s decision and have been in talks with several companies for a new uniform sponsor” (CHICAGOBUSINESS.com, 12/10).
INSURING THE WIN: New York Life Insurance and the Univ. of Connecticut announced a season-long sponsorship of the UConn men’s and women’s basketball programs. The deal includes an on-court logo presence for the entire season and sponsorship of the Dec. 21 Florida State-UConn women’s game at XL Center, which could give the team the all-time record for consecutive wins by a college basketball team. New York Life is the first sponsor to have its logo on the court during all basketball games played at both Gampel Pavilion and XL Center. The company’s ads will also appear on courtside and baseline signage boards. As part of the gameday sponsorship of the Dec. 21 contest, New York Life will have banners and a display presence at the main entrances of XL Center to distribute information (New York Life).
FOREIGN INVESTMENT? The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s John Paul Newport wrote when Fortune Brands last week announced plans to separate its three businesses, the “question for golfers became where its Acushnet unit would end up.” Acushnet includes golf ball brand Titleist and golf shoe and glove brand FootJoy. One option is “operating independently.” But most analysts believe that “it will be too expensive, at $1.2 billion or so, and face too many antitrust issues, for a U.S. buyer like Callaway or Nike to acquire, but maybe not for an Asian company." N.Y.-based Gilford Securities Senior VP/Research Casey Alexander said, “Acushnet is a global trophy brand and Asia now is the hot spot for golf growth" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/11).
GIZMOS & GADGETS: In N.Y., David Waldstein examined the new technology demonstrated at the MLB Winter Meetings' trade show in Orlando last week. The Pocket Radar booth presented a “product that could revolutionize scouting and coaching.” Pocket Radar “developed a radar gun the size of an iPhone.” Another product, Bypass Lane, is “a kind of E-ZPass for concession stands.” The exhibit also included a booth for Stadium VIP (N.Y. TIMES, 12/12).