SBD/January 26, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Marketplace Roundup

USTA's lawsuit against Olympus receives June 30 court date
Infiniti today announced a partnership with the NCAA, CBS Sports and Turner Sports. The automaker, which will run a multimedia campaign during regular-season men's basketball games and the Division I men's basketball tournament, will receive co-branded features during hoops coverage on CBS and the three Turner Broadcasting networks. Infiniti will also serve as the presenting sponsor of Turner's March Madness pregame shows and will present in-game "coaches spotlights" during the tournament (Infiniti).

DOUBLE BOOKED: The USTA’s lawsuit against Olympus Corp. for breaching its sponsorship agreement yesterday received a trial date of June 30, which is the same date as the women’s semifinals at Wimbledon. Olympus has also countersued the USTA. It is possible the two sides settle before the case reaches trial. The USTA is seeking to enforce the last year of the U.S. Open and U.S. Open Series sponsorships, while Olympus wants a court order to break them, alleging the USTA violated terms of the agreements. The case is filed in New York State Supreme Court, Westchester division (Daniel Kaplan, SportsBusiness Journal).

MOVING TARGET
: In Raleigh, Luke DeCock noted Versus is airing NHL All-Star Game promos depicting RBC Center in “downtown instead of West Raleigh.” The arena in one shot is “in the midst of downtown skyscrapers -- including a few that appear to have been moved here from elsewhere -- as players skate on a road of snow through an urban canyon toward the arena.” The closing graphics of the commercial “superimpose the arena on the downtown skyline.” Versus VP/Creative Services Tripp Dixon: “We thought it was important to show the RBC Center and some of Raleigh in the promo for the All-Star Game; however, our main objective was to create another superhero world -- our version of Gotham. People don't skate down buildings or skate down the middle of streets, so the spot does require some suspension of disbelief. That's kind of the whole idea here. Everything in the commercial isn't totally factual" (Raleigh NEWS & OBSERVER, 1/25).

CONFLICT OF INTEREST? In Portland, Allan Brettman notes ESPN’s Erin Andrews, who recently signed an endorsement deal with Reebok, two weeks earlier gave an “on-air report that delivered a hit to one of Reebok’s chief competitors, Nike.” Andrews reported that TCU players “were having problems slipping on the Rose Bowl turf because of new Nike shoes they were wearing.” Brettman wonders, "Would it have made a difference at the time if Andrews were under contract with Reebok to endorse a workout shoe?" ESPN Communications Manager Michael Humes said, “It’s rare she would cover stories involving shoes in her role. With that said, if something relevant comes up, she would disclose her Reebok connection" (Portland OREGONIAN, 1/26).
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