SBD/January 10, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

Tebowmania May Be Running Wild, But Companies Appear To Be Slow Cashing In

Besides a T-shirt, Nike has not done much to capitalize on "Tebow Mania"
The business of Broncos QB Tim Tebow is "buzzing" following a season that saw him lead the team to its first playoff win in six years, but the problem is companies "cashing in," according to CNBC's Darren Rovell. Nike has done "nothing at retail, save for a limited edition T-shirt that was quietly put on NikeStore.com," while fellow endorsers Jockey and FRS "haven't done much visible advertising with Tebow." However, Palm Beach Autographs, which has an exclusive deal with Tebow, "can't get Tebow to sign fast enough." Rovell: "There's big business to be had, but the so-called hot market is having a tough time keeping up with everything Tebow" ("Squawk on the Street," CNBC, 1/9). Rovell said there is an “uncomfortable sense" around Tebow from companies. Nike has not "done anything with him yet," though Jockey is "doing a $1 million promotion if the Broncos make it to the Super Bowl." Rovell: "There is some sort of in-between here of will a big company commit a huge marketing budget to Tim Tebow if they're not quite sure (about his chances of sustained success)." Rovell speculated that there will be a "company in the next 90 days or when his season is over that is going to take a very big chance on him" ("Outside The Lines," ESPN, 1/9).

JERSEYS IN DEMAND: Denver-based apparel store Sportsfan Division Manager John Brennan said that Tebow's performance Sunday against the Steelers "will make Tebow jerseys a hot seller through the summer and into the fall." Brennan currently is sold out of Tebow jerseys, and he said, "I've never seen anything like it." The sale of Tebow's jersey on NFLShop.com during the past nine months ranks behind only Packers QB Aaron Rodgers. Brandon Yergey, the Marketing Manager for the 13 Dick's Sporting Goods locations in Colorado, said that Broncos merchandise "has been highly popular." Yergey: "We assume we will see terrific (Broncos product) movement up to the game in New England. The city has the fever" (DENVER POST, 1/10). Mile High Magazine’s Brandon Krisztal said, “In terms of an individual generating this much buzz, we haven’t seen anything like it around here in Denver, and I’m not sure that anyone has seen it anywhere.” However, CNBC's Rovell noted with Nike taking over the apparel deal from Reebok next season, Reebok is “phasing out jerseys." Rovell: "There are really not a lot of Tim Tebow jerseys or blank jerseys that can be imprinted with Tebow 15 because of the end of this deal. There is a lot of money being left on the table because of the timing of Tebow-mania and the uniform deal” (“Outside The Lines,” ESPN, 1/9).

SETTING A TWITTER RECORD: Twitter said yesterday that Tebow-related activity in the minutes during and after the Broncos' win Sunday over the Steelers set a new sports-related record for heaviest activity with a mark of 9,420 tweets per second. The prior sports mark was the final of the '11 FIFA Women's World Cup, which hit a peak rate of 7,196 tweets per second. The Tebow record, however, remains well short of the overall Twitter volume mark, which was set in Japan in December for a screening of a classic anime movie, garnering a top level of 25,088 tweets per second (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal). ESPN’s Mike Golic said of the Twitter record, “Tim Tebow brings in more non-sports people to this world than any other athlete does right now." ESPN’s Mike Greenberg: “Lady GaGa tweeted about this. ... Kobe Bryant tweeted about it. Everyone in the world was tweeting about it” (“Mike & Mike in the Morning,” ESPN Radio, 1/10).

POPULARITY REACHING NEW HEIGHTS: Louisville's Southern Baptist Theological Seminary professor Mark Coppenger said that Tebow's "popularity has risen to such heights that he may be second only to crusader Billy Graham in his evangelical commitment." USA TODAY's Cathy Lynn Grossman in a front-page Cover Story notes Tebow "was No. 11 on the annual USA TODAY/Gallup list of most admired men in the nation, topping the Dalai Lama." The votes "were cast back when the Broncos were still on the playoff bubble." If Tebow's success "continues, he could become God's gift to marketing" (USA TODAY, 1/10).The GLOBE & MAIL's David Shoalts writes Tebow "is the breath of fresh air the NFL and a lot of other professional sports, for that matter, needs." Aside from the "obvious benefits to the Broncos’ loyalists," Tebow is "drawing a whole new group of fans to the NFL." His ability to "pull wins out of nowhere attracts everyone from lapsed NFL fans to curious women." Tebow is also a "one-man story bank for the media" (GLOBE & MAIL, 1/10).
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