SBD/June 14, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Mark Cuban Emerges As Most Marketable Maverick After Winning NBA Title

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Cuban appeared on "Dancing With the Stars," made cameo on "Entourage"
Sports marketing experts believe that Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban is "emerging as the most unlikely member of the team to score in the lucrative world of sports endorsements," according to Rich Thomaselli of AD AGE. Cuban already has a relationship with Samsung, was a contestant on ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" and made a cameo appearance as himself in HBO's "Entourage." Univ. of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business professor Kenneth Shropshire said, "He's extremely marketable, certainly more so now than ever. His good behavior during the finals was a big plus" (ADAGE.com, 6/13). Baker Street Advertising Exec VP & Exec Creative Dir Bob Dorfman in his post-NBA Finals marketing report writes while the "outspoken Cuban was unusually quiet during the playoffs, he's more charismatic than any of his Maverick players." As a "fabulously successful entrepreneur, he could certainly make a compelling pitchman for any business-related product or service -- from telecom to computers to banking -- though it's doubtful he needs the money." Dorfman writes there are "no Slam Dunk pitchmen" emerging from this year's Finals. Heat stars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh "damaged their marketability with their Finals failure," while Mavericks F and Finals MVP Dirk Nowitzki "just isn't terribly interested in endorsements." Nowitzki "could easily net $3-5M a year in new endorsement deals -- if he's willing to put himself out there." Dorfman: "That's a big if; Dirk's a very guarded personality, not terribly charismatic on camera, and none too interested in marketing himself." On the other side, James' "un-superstar-like performance put a serious dent in his marketability, and may have cost him as much as $10M in new deals." It is "tough to recommend paying top dollar right now to a jock as polarizing as he's become," at least "not until he proves he can deliver in the clutch, and win it all" (THE DAILY).

HOW DOES DIRK MEASURE UP? Bloomberg TV's Michele Steele noted Nowitzki scores a "dismal 45 on the Davie-Brown Index, used to measure celebrity appeal and brand influence." The Marketing Arm Senior VP Bill Glenn: "Endorsements are sort of an afterthought for him. Secondly, the 'brand Dirk' is not quite defined yet." Glenn added, "From a trendsetting standpoint, entertainment-wise he's like a Bob Newhart. He's pretty bland right now. That's not a bad thing. It's just going to define the types of brands that are going to link with his attributes. So if you look globally, I personally think a global brand is going to have to step up and actually link to that German heritage" ("Bloomberg Bottom Line with Mark Crumpton," Bloomberg TV, 6/10). Meanwhile, Nike during the playoffs turned its basketball website "over to a data viz app called Epic that calculated which Nike-sponsored player was getting the most tweets per hour," and Nowitzki was "ahead in that ranking on Monday afternoon." The app "also measures which teams were getting the most tweets per hour, a stat in which the Mavericks trounced" the Heat. Nike worked with digital agency R/GA on the program (MASHABLE.com, 6/13). Nike took out a full-page ad in today's Dallas Morning News for Nowitzki (THE DAILY).
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