SBD/January 4, 2011/Marketing and SponsorshipPrint All
EA Sports has struck a major deal with the Augusta National Golf Club to get the famed course and Masters-related intellectual property for the first time into console versions of "Tiger Woods PGA Tour." This year's version, going on sale March 29, will be dubbed "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters," and will include game modes in which players can seek to recreate historic Masters moments, including Woods' four wins there, and win virtual green jackets. Augusta National for years has been the most requested course among users of EA's long-standing simulation golf title. "Pairing the number one golf video game with the most prestigious golf tournament in the world is a perfect marriage," said EA Sports President Peter Moore. The video game depiction of Augusta National arrives after a painstaking laser scanning process by EA Sports that will aim to show every minute detail on the real-life course, including Augusta's famed azaleas. The game will also include a new commentary team of CBS' Jim Nantz and David Feherty. "Our sincere motivation is to draw an even greater audience to this wonderful sport and continue to inspire its growth by building off the success seen in previous versions of the 'Tiger Woods PGA Tour' franchise," said Augusta National Chair Billy Payne.
Golfer Graeme McDowell "has accepted a 'multi-year' deal" with Srixon reportedly worth $3M annually, according to Karl MacGinty of the Irish INDEPENDENT. McDowell "has agreed to play with the Srixon golf ball, wear their hat and glove and, along with his choice of Srixon clubs, use wedges produced by sister company Cleveland." McDowell's contract with Callaway expired Dec. 31 (Irish INDEPENDENT, 1/1). GOLF.com's David Dusek reported there had been "rumors of a deal brewing between McDowell and Srixon for a few weeks," though a Callaway rep in mid-December said that there was "still a chance that McDowell ... might stay with the company." McDowell will be an "especially bitter loss for Callaway." The company "awarded McDowell with a sterling silver belt buckle, trimmed in gold, to commemorate his win" at the U.S. Open in June. He also was "flown to Carlsbad, Calif., in September, where he spoke to Callaway employees at their annual sales meeting and talked about how much he liked his equipment -- and the products he'd tried that were on the way for the 2011 season." Dusek noted Srixon "may have found some money to sign McDowell after Jim Furyk, whose contract also ended on Dec. 31, decided to sign an endorsement deal with TaylorMade" (GOLF.com, 1/3). The IRISH TIMES' Philip Reid notes the move to Srixon is "just one of a number of corporate sponsorship deals completed over the winter close season which affirms McDowell’s global marketability." He has signed deals with MasterCard and shoe company Ecco "to go along with the existing arrangements he has with Swiss watch manufacturer Audemars Piquet, Middle East business empire Al Naboodah, Dublin tailor Louis Copeland and private jets company Marquis Jet" (IRISH TIMES, 1/4).
The NFL "throughout the playoffs" is running a commercial that features clips of fans "in TV dens and bars all over" reacting to Saints CB Tracy Porter's interception return in last year's Super Bowl XLIV, according to Dave Walker of the New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE. The spot was the "brainchild of a creative team at the advertising agency Grey New York, who assembled it from clips on various video-sharing sites on the Internet." NFL Creative Producer Jonathan Klein said, "If you look at our work this year, we've really been turning the camera a little bit on the fans, and trying to see the world a little bit through their eyes. It was a visceral reaction we had to the emotions that manifest in these kind of scenarios." Walker notes there is "no narration in the piece," and "minimal explanation." Klein: "We felt that the purity of those experiences and this shared video was more than sufficient to tell a story. You didn't need voice-over, you didn't need title cards, you didn't need graphics. You just needed the sort of innocence of expression. ... The only way this thing works and feels real and authentic is if it's depicted in its true form, and that was as it was." Walker notes Henry David, who shot one of the clips featured in the ad, "agreed to share it further" after being contacted by Grey. David "happily did so, without compensation ... like all the contributors." David jokingly said, "I wish I could've got a tee shirt out of it or something" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 1/4).
The NHL's partnership with comic book creator Stan Lee for a hockey-themed project is a "novel endeavor that may shape how sports leagues use comicbook-style entertainment vehicles to sell their product in the future," according to Josh Chetwynd of DAILY VARIETY. The NHL and Lee will formally unveil "The Guardian Project," a group of 30 superheroes each based on a particular NHL franchise, at the All-Star Game later this month. The characters "won't have a direct relationship to any of the athletes or action on the ice." Instead, they are "based on team names and logos" and will "possess general traits attributed to clubs and feature backstories meant to appeal to local fans." Beyond the "marketing implications, the NHL's depth of involvement also makes the deal notable." The league and Lee have set up Guardian Media Entertainment, a "dedicated company with seven full-time employees." GME Chief Creative Officer Adam Baratta said, "You are blending the intellectual property of two brands -- Stan Lee and the NHL -- and are dealing with issues of who owns the IP and the blended mark. The NHL has probably done things here that no other league would do." Chetwynd notes for the launch, the "gameplan is for the superheroes to initially roll out through comicbooks, an online presence, merchandising, Jumbotron interstitials at games and character images on television broadcasts." Those efforts will be "followed by social media gaming and a novel explaining character backstories." GME also "hopes to have a television cartoon on air by 2012 and eventually produce film projects." Using comics "tenuously tied to the actual sport is [uncharted] territory." Before partnering with the NHL, Lee was "in serious talks six years ago" with the NFL for a similar project. The league "wanted its top players to receive superhero makeovers," but Lee "balked and the deal broke down" (DAILY VARIETY, 1/4).
LET ME BE YOUR HERO: Lee said he was “was very lucky” in creating the 30 heroes, as the “names of the teams lend themselves to superheroes.” Lee: “It was very easy to just talk to the artist and say, 'Look, this team is called the Panthers, let's say, so get me a Panther as a superhero,' and we now have 30 of them. They're being illustrated now. The stories are being worked on, and it's a very exciting project because I've done comic books that had many heroes, like the X-Men. They had a handful of heroes, but 30 in one series!? I mean, it's a prestigious task and a helluva lot of fun” ("Hockey Central," Versus, 1/3).
FIVE MINUTES FOR FIGHTING: YAHOO SPORTS' Ryan Lambert wrote "The Guardian Project" might be the "most inane, and least comprehensible, thing the NHL has done to trick people into watching a Wild game yet." Two of the superheroes -- representing the Penguins ("The Penguin") and the Kings ("The King") -- have been unveiled. The Penguins-inspired character's "super powers include the ability to fire ice missiles," while the Kings' superhero "has a force field and carries a shield." Lambert: "I'm not sure why he would need both of those things." The "motivation on the league's part" is understandable, but "even if we are to ignore that the basic tenet of this League should be to promote the PLAYERS as being superhuman -- since they are -- this is still a misguided, poorly executed gong show of a promotion" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/3).
In Boston, Thomas Grillo notes as the Patriots “prepare for another run at an NFL championship with possibly two home playoff games, merchants are stocking up to meet the rising demand from fans.” Patriots Pro Shop Store Manager Michael Periello said that the “hot products right now are the AFC East champion caps selling for $25 and T-shirts at $20." By the time of the first playoff game on either Jan. 15 or 16, Periello “expects the best selling items will be jerseys, Pats party platters, glasses, party ware and grilling utensils” (BOSTON HERALD, 1/4).
SO FRESH AND SO CLEAN: YAHOO SPORTS’ Kevin Kaduk noted Rockies CF Carlos Gonzalez’ new Gillette ad reminds him “a little of those Dove ads featuring elder statesmen like Andy Pettitte and Albert Pujols.” Being selected as one of Gillette's Young Guns is "obviously a huge step" for Gonzalez, as he is "being recognized immediately after his breakout 2010." Kaduk: “With his outstanding talent, great smile and ability to appeal toward the young, male Hispanic demographic, it really was only a matter of time until Gonzalez was approached for a high-profile ad” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 1/3).
DOUBLE YOUR PLEASURE: ESPN yesterday debuted a new TV spot featuring tennis players Bob and Mike Bryan as part of its "It's Not Crazy, It's Sports" campaign. The spot, which will air across ESPN's TV networks, shows the twin brothers and doubles partners on a clay court surrounded by ATP World Tour logos. Lighthearted music plays in homage to the '80s-era "Doublemint Gum" TV commercials (THE DAILY).
ONE GIANT STEP FOR … Former astronaut Buzz Aldrin and StarBuzz LLC on Dec. 27 filed a suit against The Topps Co. in the Central District of California after Topps refused to refrain from using Aldrin’s name, image or signature without his consent, or to compensate him for such use. Topps in ’09 featured a picture of Aldrin taken on the moon as part of its “Topps American Heritage: American Heroes Edition” trading card set. The image was used on the top of the trading card box, on the packaging of each package and on the inset of the box’ lid. Aldrin’s name and signature were also used on the front and back of the “Heroes of Spaceflight” trading card and his name was on the card commemorating the ’66 Gemini XII mission (StarBuzz).