SBD/July 16, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

Cam Newton Draws Smaller Than Expected Crowd In Charlotte For Autograph Signing

Due to lower-than-expected turnout, Newton was done signing autographs after an hour
NFL Panthers QB Cam Newton’s appearance at a for-profit autograph session in Charlotte Saturday “drew criticism from observers locally and nationally,” but his marketing agent, IMG’s Carlos Fleming, said that Newton was “doing nothing different than most other top picks, whose first endorsement deals generally are with memorabilia companies,” according to Joseph Person of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. A crowd of around 300 people attended the session. Newton was “scheduled to sign for 2 1/2 hours, but he was through after an hour.” He was “escorted to a private area, where he autographed items for GT Sports Marketing and any stragglers who arrived late.” Newton had appeared at “five previous autograph sessions in New Jersey and Alabama as part of his obligations to Hawaii-based GT Sports Marketing.” Terms of Newton’s memorabilia deal are undisclosed. Newton helped Auburn Univ. in the national championship in '10, and GT Sports Marketing President Gary Takahashi said that the crowd Saturday was “not comparable to those at Newton’s autograph sessions in Alabama.” Takahashi: “I think the people that did come had a good time.” Panthers PSL holder Ritchie Blount said of Newton, “The guy was very gracious, took his time. It wasn’t a rushed procedure. He looked everybody in the eye.” Takahashi seemed “disappointed in the turnout,” and he “called Charlotte a nice city, but one that does not have a history with paid autograph events.” Takahashi said that he would “come to Charlotte for as many as five Panthers’ games this season but did not commit to any more autograph sessions.” He said, “We don’t have any scheduled for the time being” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 7/15). Newton during the signing wore a polo from Under Armour, one of his first sponsors (THE DAILY).

DIFFERING OPINIONS: NBC Sports Network’s Shaun King said he was "completely fine" with Newton charging for autographs. King: "This is an event that markets a different group of people than say if this was his football camp and he had little kids coming or if this was after a Panthers game and these were Panther fans.” However, NBC Sports Network’s Erik Kuselias said for the $40,000 Newton made for the signing, he is "going to spend 10 times that in negative publicity for what he gets." Kuselias: "This is a bad investment" ("NBC Sports Talk," NBC Sports Network, 7/13).
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