SBD/January 19, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

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  • Venus Williams Again Makes A Splash With Australian Open Outfits

    Venus Williams wears Alice In Wonderland-inspired dress in Aussie Open 2nd round

    Venus Williams said that the "tummy-revealing, canary yellow top and flesh-coloured underwear" she wore during her second-round match at the Australian Open today against Sandra Zahlavova were "inspired by Alice in Wonderland," according to Will Brodie of the Melbourne AGE. Williams told the media following her match she wanted to create a "surprise in a tennis dress." Williams: "I put a lot of thought into my dresses. I love fantasy, and this was kind of a way to express who I am on court." Brodie writes Williams' goal was "easily achieved by the lattice-like top which brought to mind the criss-crosses of pastry atop an apple pie." Williams and her sister, Serena, "have long been innovators in tennis fashion, and take a keen interest in designing their own outfits" (Melbourne AGE, 1/20). YAHOO SPORTS' Chris Chase wrote Williams' outfit "looked like a mix between Solid Gold Dancer and Edward Scissorhands" (, 1/19). Inside Tennis’ Matt Cronin wrote on his Twitter feed, “Quizz: Venus Williams dress looks like: 1: Pie crust 2: Spray-painted piece of trellis 3: temporary plastic fencing for a construction site.” L.A. Times columnist Diane Pucin wrote, “Venus Williams' dress looks as if it might be worn by Hanniball Lecter to keep him from eating people. Only in a cheery color” (, 1/19). ESPN's Mary Joe Fernandez said during Williams' match, "A lot of holes in this outfit." ESPN's Dick Enberg: "I hope that isn't symbolic of holes in her game. She started very lethargically." ESPN later showed a close-up of Williams' diamond dangling earrings, with Enberg saying, "Some bling working for her there. So gold attire with diamond accoutrement" ("Australian Open," ESPN, 1/18).

    USE YOUR ILLUSION: USA TODAY's Tom Weir noted Williams' first-round outfit featured a "super-short top that's more of a jersey than a dress." She "explained it was an 'illusion dress' -- with the intended illusion being that she wanted to appear nude by wearing flesh-colored shorts." But she added she "decided not to" wear the flesh-colored shorts "at the last minute." Williams instead wore black shorts under her dress (, 1/18). Williams: "I just decided to wear the black ones. But, you know, it's just about focusing on the dress and not anything else. I mean, I had black shorts under" (, 1/18).

    UNDEREXPOSED STAR: SI's Jon Wertheim profiled No. 1-ranked player Rafael Nadal and noted he is "indisputably a global star," yet his endorsement portfolio is estimated at $17M, "less than one third" that of Roger Federer. Nadal "remains underexposed ... in the U.S., in particular." Some of this is "due to his English, which is still endearingly flawed." But "perhaps more important, Nadal has no use for the trappings of fame," as "award-show appearances and celebrity 'brand extensions' just aren't part of his M.O." Last year he "appeared as an awkward bystander in a Shakira video; now it's among his least favorite conversation topics." He also landed a deal with Richard Mille, a watchmaker whose watches sell for "as much as $500,000," and "sure enough, Nadal lost the watch." His reps "consented to an interview but declined a photo shoot" for the story (SI, 1/17 issue).

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  • Li Ning Plans To Invest $10M In U.S. Business In '11

    After opening showroom in Portland in '10, Li Ning plans to open U.S. warehouses

    Li Ning CEO Zhang Zhiyong yesterday said that the Chinese sports-apparel company will "invest $10 million in its U.S. business this year and enter a joint-venture with Acquity Group LLC to expand U.S. distribution," according to Laurie Burkitt of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Acquity, a Chicago-based brand-consulting firm, is designing an ad campaign for Li Ning that will be the brand's "biggest yet for the U.S. market." The effort is "expected to roll out in May, with television, print and Web spots." Li Ning's move is "part of a continuing push to broaden its reach into the U.S. and other global markets to compete more extensively with larger rivals" Nike and adidas. Zhang said that Li Ning, which opened its first U.S. showroom in Portland last year, "plans to open warehouses this year to extend its distribution of shoes, apparel and accessories to retail deals it plans to sign in coming months." Zhang noted that Li Ning "aims to push U.S. sales" to $50M this year. The company said that sales outside China "accounted for 2% of revenue last year." Zhang said that to "help overhaul Li Ning's products for American tastes and body types, the company plans to hire 20 product developers in coming months." At the same time, Burkitt notes Li Ning "faces challenges in its domestic market, where second-quarter order volume for apparel declined more than 7% and footwear orders dropped 8% from a year earlier" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/19). SportsOneSource analyst Matt Powell believes that Li Ning's "primary goal in the U.S. is to help with sales on its home turf." Powell: "They're trying to build a platform here to give themselves real credibility with their customers back in China" (Portland OREGONIAN, 1/19).

    Print | Tags: Marketing and Sponsorship, Li Ning
  • Shark Shootout Loses Merrill Lynch As Primary Sponsor, Confident Of Replacement

    Merrill Lynch had been title sponsor of Shark Shootout for five years

    Merrill Lynch and parent company Bank of America have "chosen not to return as the primary sponsor for Greg Norman's Shark Shootout, but tournament officials are confident the event's 10-year run in Southwest Florida will go on," according to Seth Soffian of the Ft. Myers NEWS-PRESS. Merrill Lynch "opted not to renew for this year ... after five years as title sponsor -- the last two without its name on the event." The company could "remain involved with the unofficial PGA Tour event in a reduced capacity." Norman last month said that the event "had one leading candidate in the wings to replace Merrill Lynch if the company did not renew." Tournament Dir Taylor Ives Monday said the prospective sponsor is "definitely still in play." Ives added that conditions are "better now than they were 18-24 months ago, even as financial services companies such as Bank of America continue reducing their visibility in sports and golf sponsorship." He noted that officials with Great White Shark Enterprises "hope to have a new title sponsor in the coming months but can wait as long as the summer without jeopardizing this year's tournament." Last month's event "matched the tournament's estimated weekly attendance record in its 10 years" at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Fla. (Ft. Myers NEWS-PRESS, 1/18).

    Print | Tags: Merrill Lynch, Golf, Marketing and Sponsorship
  • Renault F1 Team's Paint Scheme Could Run Afoul Of Canada's Tobacco Act

    Black and gold paint scheme resembles John Player Special cigarette packaging

    The Renault F1 team's new "historic black and gold paint scheme may cause some headaches" for the team during the June 12 Canadian Grand Prix, as having its car "look even remotely similar to a cigarette pack likely violates Canada's ban on tobacco advertising," according to Jeff Pappone of the GLOBE & MAIL. The ban would be in effect even though the car "has no connection to the former sponsorship" by John Player Special cigarettes. A Health Canada spokesperson said the organization's tobacco inspectors "would need to fully review to assess whether a violation of the Tobacco Act has occurred" should a car painted to resemble a cigarette pack make an appearance in the race. The spokesperson added, "Tobacco product sponsorship is prohibited entirely and tobacco advertising is severely restricted." Pappone noted Imperial Tobacco Canada, which manufactures and distributes the John Player Special brand in the country, "cannot even display the black and gold colours on its website where it describes the brand." Pappone: "It appears that it could easily be argued that Renault's plans to display the same black colour and gold pin-striping that formerly promoted the JPS brand and associate it with the glitz and glamour of F1 would contravene the legislation" (GLOBE & MAIL, 1/18).

    TAKE IT TO THE COURTS: In London, Tom Cary reports Group Lotus is "attempting to avoid a costly legal battle by seeking a summary judgement next week in its dispute with Team Lotus over the use of the car maker's name in Formula One." The Group Lotus car company "caused widespread confusion before Christmas" by announcing a seven-year, US$160M sponsorship deal with the Renault F1 team "when there was already a Lotus team on the grid." It had been "expected that the legal row between Group Lotus and Team Lotus would not be in court until the early summer," but Group Lotus is "seeking a summary judgement on the main legal issues -- that its early termination of its licencing deal with Lotus Racing was a breach of contract and over whether Team Lotus is allowed to use the name in Formula 1 this year." The matter is "due to be heard in London" on Monday (London TELEGRAPH, 1/19).

    Print | Tags: Formula One, Motorsports, Marketing and Sponsorship
  • Marketplace Roundup

    David Garrard, NFL filed a lawsuit against a local casino using his picture on website

    The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Loretta Chao noted China’s “self-promotional ad announced earlier this week has finally been unveiled” on six screens in Times Square. One part of the ad titled “Thrilling Chinese Athletics” includes a photo of Rockets C Yao Ming and “other athletes standing in front of the Birds Nest national stadium in Beijing.” The ad was launched as China President Hu Jintao “makes his way to Washington for a summit” with President Barack Obama. The ad will run in Times Square “300 times a day for a grand total of 8,400 plays between now and Valentine’s Day” (, 1/18).

    BAD BET: In Jacksonville, David Bauerlein reports Jaguars QB David Garrard and the NFL are suing a local casino cruise business “whose online site shows an action photo of Garrard in an NFL game.” Garrard, the NFL, the Jaguars and NFL Properties on Jan. 12 filed a lawsuit against Jacks or Better Casino, claiming that “no one gave Jacks or Better permission to put the photo on the website.” The suit “seeks an order barring the use of Garrard’s photo and NFL trademarks" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 1/19).

    GAME ON: 2K Sports has become the official sponsor of ESPN’s live NBA coverage in the U.K. and Ireland this season. The partnership will feature “NBA 2K11” around ESPN’s telecasts. Financial terms of the partnership were not disclosed. 2K Sports will also be the sponsor of “NBA Action” on ESPN, which gives fans an inside look at game day preparation for the league’s athletes and includes the top plays and highlights from the week (2K Sports).

    FINISHING TOUCHES: The release of “NASCAR 2011: The Game” has been pushed back to March 29 instead of February. Game developer Eutechnyx on its website wrote, “The main reason is we simply wanted more time to polish it and hopefully make it the experience you guys are craving. ... Sometimes more time is needed to get that fantastic end product we want to ship” (, 1/18).

    AND THE AWARD GOES TO… The NBA announced the recipients of the ’10 NBA Retail Summit Awards, naming the Jazz the ’09-10 Team Retailer of the Year and Majestic Athletic and Wincraft the inaugural Apparel and Non-Apparel Licensee of the Year, respectively, as voted on by all 30 NBA team retailers (NBA).

    Print | Tags: Marketing and Sponsorship
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