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SBD/April 26, 2012/Marketing and SponsorshipPrint All
Anheuser-Busch, a major sponsor of UFC, has “reprimanded the mixed-martial arts organization for remarks made by some fighters” after advocacy groups “have criticized the fighters comments as sexist and homophobic,” according to E.J. Schultz of AD AGE. A-B in a statement said, “We've communicated to the UFC our displeasure with certain remarks made by some of its fighters, and they have promised to address this. If the incidents continue, we will act.” UFC replied in a statement, “With over 425 athletes on our roster, there have unfortunately been instances where a couple athletes have made insensitive or inappropriate comments. We don't condone this behavior, and in no way is it reflective of the company or its values." Schultz noted the warning comes as the UFC “is gaining mainstream exposure through support from major advertisers and a long-term TV deal with Fox that includes live prime-time matches.” A-B last year “renewed its UFC deal in a multiyear pact that makes Bud Light a sponsor of pay-per-view and TV broadcasts, while giving the Bud Light logo prominent placement in the UFC's ‘Octagon’ ring, as well as in press conferences, weigh-ins and locker rooms” (ADAGE.com, 4/25). MMATORCH.com’s Jamie Penick wrote the “alpha-male” nature of MMA has “resulted in several of the UFC's athletes -- as well as UFC President Dana White and UFC commentator Joe Rogan -- making sexist or homophobic remarks to fellow fighters, reporters, and fans alike.” This could potentially be “a very real problem for the UFC.” Losing top sponsors “over what they've tried to essentially sweep-aside in the past could cost them millions, and hurt their image further in areas where they continue to try to gain acceptance.” Penick: “A big issue on this front is that fighters likely feel they can get away with a lot more because White … doesn't have much of a filter when it comes to expressing his feelings on things.” This is an issue “that really does need to be addressed in-house” (MMATORCH.com, 4/25).
Bulls G Derrick Rose has the NBA's best-selling jersey at the temporary NBA Store in N.Y., and on NBAStore.com from April 2011 to present, according to a league release. This marks the first time Rose has had the top-selling jersey in the league. His No. 1 jersey ranked fifth on the list last year. Knicks G Jeremy Lin ranks No. 2 on the list despite not joining the team until December. Lin had the top-selling jersey during the lockout-shortened NBA regular season. The Bulls ranked as the top-selling team, marking the first time the club has held the No. 1 position since April '01 (NBA). CNBC.com's Darren Rovell notes Lin jerseys "didn't even hit the market until mid-February." Lakers G Kobe Bryant ranks behind Lin at No. 3, and Rovell writes it is an "upset" for Lin to top Bryant, as the Lakers star in the last 12 years "has finished the regular season atop the NBA jersey rankings six times, including 3 out of the last 5 years coming into this year" (CNBC.com, 4/26).
TOP 15 MOST POPULAR NBA JERSEYSRANK
PLAYERSRANK PLAYERS1 Bulls G Derrick Rose9 Clippers F Blake Griffin2 Knicks G Jeremy Lin10 Celtics G Rajon Rondo3 Lakers G Kobe Bryant11 Knicks G Amar'e Stoudemire4 Heat F LeBron James12 Celtics G Ray Allen5 Knicks F Carmelo Anthony13 Celtics F Paul Pierce6 Heat G Dwyane Wade14 Magic C Dwight Howard7 Mavericks F Dirk Nowitzki15 Clippers G Chris Paul8 Thunder F Kevin Durant
TOP 10 MOST POPULAR TEAM MERCHANDISERANK
TEAMRANK TEAM1 Bulls6 Celtics2 Knicks7 Thunder3 Lakers8 Clippers4 Heat9 Nuggets5 Mavericks10 Magic
Broncos QB Peyton Manning tops the early-sales list of the "newly designed NFL team jerseys from Nike that hit stores this week,” according to Michael McCarthy of USA TODAY. NFL Corporate Communications Manager Joanna Hunter said that Manning’s jersey is “the best-selling player jersey at NFLShop.com since the high-tech jerseys became available for pre-order April 15.” Jets QB Tim Tebow, who was traded by the Broncos to make room for Manning, ranks second. Manning "did not rank in the top 10 last season," which he missed while recovering from neck surgery. Jerseys for all 32 teams “officially go on sale today” (USA TODAY, 4/26).
TOP-SELLING NFL SERSEYS SINCE APRIL 15RANK
PLAYERRANK PLAYER1 Broncos Peyton Manning6 Patriots QB Tom Brady2 Jets QB Tim Tebow7 49ers LB Patrick Willis3 Giants QB Eli Manning8 Giants WR Victor Cruz4 Bears LB Brian Urlacher9 Panthers QB Cam Newton5 Saints QB Drew Brees10 Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul
SHOPPING SPREE: The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Jason Gay yesterday visited the NFL's "pop-up" retail store on Sixth Avenue in N.Y. and writes it is "worth a visit.” Among the “well-stocked, masculine aisles, the NFL is not an enterprise confronted by soul-rattling problems, but a beloved pastime, warmly adored by fans with high credit limits.” Fans can find items ranging from a Vineyard Vines Eagles classic tote bag for $95 to a Dolphins umbrella for $20. There is also “a section of spiffy athletic apparel" from Under Armour, with one T-shirt reading, “I WILL MAIM YOUR GAME.” Gay writes, “Here we are, the week of one of the NFL's biggest public showcases -- a moment when the league finds itself amid troubling questions about player safety and the behavior of one of its recent Super Bowl champions -- and inside the league's own attention-seeking fan boutique, there's a T-shirt for sale with the word ‘maim’ on it.” Gay: “I suspect if NFL commissioner Roger Goodell finds out this shirt is for sale he's going to spike a stapler in his office” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 4/26).
A group of 18 Olympians yesterday sued Samsung, alleging the company did not have permission to incorporate their names and photos into its “Samsung Genome Project.” The list of athletes suing includes Dara Torres, Mark Spitz, Greg Louganis, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Aaron Peirsol, Cullen Jones and Jessica Hardys. The “Genome Project” is Samsung’s primary '12 Olympic marketing platform in the U.S. It is a Facebook application that allows users to see their connection to past and present Olympians. The app was developed by Team Epic and supported by the USOC. Agents began raising questions last fall about the idea of featuring athletes on the app without their permission and without compensation. Some athletes have endorsements with Samsung competitors. Torres has a deal with Hewlett-Packard. Samsung gave athletes the chance to opt out of the program, but many athletes did not respond to the opt-out request. When Samsung posted information about athletes on its Genome app on Facebook, the 18 athletes joined forces, hired attorney Rich Foster -- the former head of USA Water Polo -- and filed a lawsuit. The suit does not specify the damages the athletes are seeking. Most of the athletes are represented by PMG Sports, a N.C.-based agency led by Evan Morgenstein. The story was first reported by Bloomberg.
NAMES REMOVED: USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky said in a statement, "The USOC and Samsung launched the U.S. Olympic Genome Project so that Americans can find connections with Team USA athletes. We did not launch the project to commercialize athletes' names in any way. We have honored the requests of the athletes who have filed suit to remove their names, as we offered to do months ago, and of course we will remove any athletes that do not wish to be listed." Samsung issued a statement saying, "Samsung is disappointed by the lawsuit filed around the U.S. Olympic Genome project. The Genome Project is a unique program that benefits Team USA by connecting fans and U.S. Olympians. We have collaborated closely on this program with the United States Olympic Committee over the past year and followed USOC procedures in communicating with the athletes. Athletes have had the opportunity to voice their opinions on the program and to control their participation. Samsung will continue to support Team USA and the spirit of the Olympics in our efforts.”
Consumers in August “will begin to see specially marked packages of Tide bearing the NFL’s official heraldic logo” as part of the Procter & Gamble brand's new multiyear sponsorship with the league, according to Anthony Crupi of AD WEEK. The upcoming NFL season marks “the third in P&G’s five-year national sponsorship of the league,” and under terms of the deal signed in '09, P&G “was given the option to align one of its brands with all 32 teams.” Analysts estimate that P&G “pays north of $100 million for the privilege of aligning its brands with the NFL.” As part of Tide’s deal, the individual team sponsorships provide the opportunity for Tide “to use franchise logos and trademarks on its distinctive orange packaging.” Crupi noted if previous P&G efforts “are any indication, TV is likely to play an integral part of Tide’s media mix.” P&G North American Fabric Care Marketing Dir Sundar Raman said, “The NFL’s growing female fan base played a big role in developing the Tide sponsorship. It allows us to tap into America’s passion for the NFL and fan loyalty toward their home teams.” Crupi noted Tide enjoys “a home-field advantage of sorts, given its preeminence among NFL equipment managers.” Even before the deal was announced, Tide was “the preferred detergent in 29 of the 32 team locker rooms” (ADWEEK.com, 4/25).
Lions WR Calvin Johnson was named the cover athlete for EA Sports' "Madden NFL 13," capturing the fan vote in a 52%-48% final against Panthers QB Cam Newton. Johnson's selection was announced during a special on-site production of ESPN's "SportsNation" in Times Square, with Johnson's photo shoot taking place immediately after. The fan vote for the "Madden" video game cover, expanded this year to a 64-player field, drew 19.6 million votes, 54% higher than the 12.7 million last year, and nearly 652,000 votes in the Johnson-Newton final alone. Beyond the cover shoot last night, Johnson will participate in a frenetic promotional schedule this week. He will announce the Lions' first-round selection tonight at the NFL Draft, participate in the league's annual pre-draft luncheon and appear tomorrow night on CBS' "Late Show." For EA Sports, the third iteration of the "Madden" fan vote marked another success of the program that has since been expanded to several other titles in its portfolio. "This year's cover voting campaign had more rounds, more players and more votes than ever before, generating great conversations and debates amongst the fans and NFL players across multiple ESPN platforms and throughout social media," said EA Sports Dir of Marketing Anthony Stevenson. "Madden NFL 13" will be released Aug. 28 (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).
COVER MATERIAL: As the cover was unveiled, Johnson said he was “shocked" to see himself on the game cover. Johnson: “Everybody’s going to want the game, so I need EA to supply me with dozens of games” (“SportsNation,” ESPN2, 4/25). In Charlotte, Scott Fowler notes Newton "looked totally surprised when Johnson won, then recovered quickly." Newton joked to the audience, "I thought you guys loved me!" But Newton "cared about losing," as he has "played the various incarnations of the Madden NFL franchise for years and believed" that he was the "ideal candidate for the cover." Newton had "Cam-paigned" for the cover with a homemade video that has been viewed more than 154,000 times on YouTube (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/26).
AVOIDING THE CURSE? ESPN's Colin Cowherd referenced the "Madden curse" before unveiling the cover yesterday, saying, "Through the years, there has been this sort of cover jinx. ... Do you buy into jinxes?” Newton: “No. You do what you got to do, there won’t be no jinx” ("SportsNation," ESPN2, 4/25).