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SBD/May 12, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship
Published May 12, 2011
SPEAK SOFTLY? ESPN.com's Howard Bryant writes the issue between Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall and former sponsor Champion is "as much about control as free speech." Mendenhall "sold his free speech rights when he signed on to the sponsorship deal," and as a result "dumping him is well within Champion's right as a company." Mendenhall's "great error was not in engaging in a political discussion but in taking Champion's money in the first place." There are only a "few athletes who can skillfully navigate the controversial." Bryant: "The headlines say Mendenhall was fired by Champion. But in a real sense, he was liberated. He regained a commodity -- his right to speak his mind -- that should never be for sale" (ESPN.com, 5/12).
ON THE CUTTING EDGE: Nike designer Michael Shea, who has spent the last two years in the company's "Innovation Kitchen," spoke yesterday about his work at a seminar titled, "Innovation and the Creative Process." Shea said that Nike designers who "come up with the ideas for differently designed footwear, for gadgets and for apparel try to ignore their company's status as the largest sporting goods company in the world." He noted that the gift Nike Chair Phil Knight recently gave to Oprah Winfrey, a pair of "LunarGlide+ 2 iD" shoes, "was crafted and devised in the Innovation Kitchen" (OREGONLIVE.com, 5/11).
STEPPING INTO THE RING: DeWalt has announced the launch of its '11 Knockout Challenge to help promote its sponsorship of the June 18 Saul Alvarez-Ryan Rhodes bout in Mexico. The Knockout Challenge includes a series of competitions at select The Home Depot stores nationwide from May 5-June 17 (THE DAILY).