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SBD/October 17, 2012/Marketing and SponsorshipPrint All
Nike today terminated its relationship with cyclist Lance Armstrong due to the “seemingly insurmountable evidence” that he participated in doping and, in the process, “misled” the company. Nike in a statement said, “Nike does not condone the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs in any matter.” The company will continue supporting Livestrong initiatives (Nike). Nike in a statement said that it will "change the name of the Lance Armstrong Fitness Center" at its HQs in Beaverton, Ore. The AP's Michelle Chapman notes Nike traditionally has "stuck by the athletes that it has endorsed in the past during tumultuous times in their lives," including Tiger Woods. The company "distanced itself" from Eagles QB Michael Vick "following a dog-fighting scandal, but by last year, it was backing Vick once again" (AP, 10/17). In Milwaukee, Don Walker notes Nike "has had a history of sticking with its stars," but the company "obviously felt it had to act" after USADA issued its report last week outlining the allegations against Armstrong (JSONLINE.com, 10/17). USA TODAY's Christine Brennan writes if people still believe Armstrong "didn't cheat and didn't take drugs, you are now officially notified that he did" by Nike's move. Brennen: "Nike knows. Lance did it. Otherwise, it would still be standing by him. ... When Nike drops an athlete, you know he or she has done something terribly, irreparably wrong. That's because Nike has supported, defended and continued to pay all kinds of athletes in trouble," including Woods, Lakers G Kobe Bryant, Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger and former NFLer Brett Favre (USATODAY.com, 10/17). Nike in July removed the name of late Penn State football coach Joe Paterno from its Child Development Center following the release of the school's Freeh Report, which detailed the findings of an investigation into the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal (THE DAILY).
RADIOSHACK ALSO CUTS TIES: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's O'Connell & Albergotti report RadioShack today announced it also has "ended its relationship" with Armstrong. A RadioShack spokesperson said, "I can say that RadioShack has no current obligations with Lance Armstrong." The company has been "closely aligned with Mr. Armstrong since it signed a sponsorship agreement with the cyclist" in July '09. RadioShack last week said that it was "monitoring the situation" after the release of USADA's report (WSJ.com, 10/17). AD AGE's Michael McCarthy noted A-B yesterday “issued another public statement of support for Armstrong,” with whom it signed a deal in ’09. A-B VP/Marketing Paul Chibe said, "Our current relationship with Lance remains unchanged" (ADAGE.com, 10/16). But CNBC's Joe Kernen said, "I would bet my life that you do not see another Michelob Ultra commercial with Lance Armstrong” (“Squawk Box,” CNBC, 10/17). Trek Bicycle Corp., which "features Armstrong prominently" in its Wisconsin-based HQs, has declined to comment (JSONLINE.com, 10/17). ESPN.com's Darren Rovell notes other Armstrong sponsors, including Oakley, Honey Stinger and FRS, "have thus far continued to stand by his side." However, endorsement deals "typically have morals clauses that allow companies to sever their deals with cause" (ESPN.com, 10/17). Rovell said, "This is the end of Lance Armstrong as a spokesman. He has several other deals. I don't expect those to be active for a long time. I expect his lucrative speaking career to be over now and he's going to have to move on" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 10/17).
LEAVING LIVESTRONG POSITION: Armstrong said that he is "stepping down" as Livestrong Chair so the group can "focus on its mission instead of its founder's problems." The AP's Jim Vertuno reports Armstrong's duties "leading the board will be turned over" to Vice Chair Jeff Garvey, the organization's founding Chair in '97. Armstrong will remain "on its 15-member board." Livestrong VP/Communications & External Affairs Katherine McLane said that the decision "turns over the foundation's big-picture strategic planning to Garvey." Garvey will assume "some of the public appearances and meetings that Armstrong used to handle," though Armstrong is "expected to speak at Friday night's 15th anniversary gala for Livestrong in Austin" (AP, 10/17). Meanwhile, YAHOO SPORTS' Dan Wetzel writes Nike will continue to support Livestrong, but if the company is "really upset about Lance Armstrong, then let them take the money the company made off him over the years he was cheating -- tens and tens of millions -- and give it all to the fight against cancer." Wetzel: "Otherwise this is just public-relations spin, piling on a guy who the company had long propped up" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/17).
TWITTER REAX: NBC News' Andrea Mitchell wrote on her Twitter feed, "Nike fires #Lance Armstrong they never fired Tiger and rehired Michael Vick. Takes a lot to loose the swoosh." The L.A. Times' Bill Plaschke wrote, "It took Nike 8 months to take Joe Paterno's name off their child development center..that they quit on Lance shows how far he's fallen." Marathon runner Paula Radcliffe, a Nike endorser, wrote, "A lot of people were deceived. The Nike I know represents the spirit and ideals of true athletes and would never condone doping." ESPN.com's Bonnie Ford wrote, "Nike just did it."
BLACK-BOARD JUNGLE: Last night’s edition of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart” featured a "Back in Black" segment with comedian Lewis Black harping on Armstrong. Black said, "What the hell is wrong with Lance Armstrong? Everybody who’s ever known him says he was doping, everybody who ever rode with him, everybody who ever slept with him, everybody who ever jabbed a needle in his taint, they all say he was doping. But not Lance!” Video clips were shown of Armstrong denying the allegations and saying that fighting them “sucks the life out of you.” Black said, “That sucks the life out of you? You win a 2,000-mile bike race seven years in a row and going to court once a month is too much work? But I suppose this does explain his new ‘Deny Strong’ bracelet. Look, I don’t care that Lance Armstrong was doping. I care that he won’t admit it" (“The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” Comedy Central, 10/16).
Children's Miracle Network Hospitals will let its title sponsorship of the PGA Tour Fall Series event at Disney's Magnolia Golf Course in Orlando “to expire after next month's event, ending a six-year relationship and sending the late-year mainstay in search of new backing,” according to Jeff Shain of the ORLANDO SENTINEL. CMNH Chief Concept Officer Craig Sorensen said, "We've had some changes in our organization in terms of budget and some direction. … We're really focusing on how we can best increase fund-raising, so we've reallocated our resources into other things to help us increase fund-raising for our hospitals." Sorensen said that the move has “no effect on Children's Miracle Network's longstanding relationship with Walt Disney World, site of its annual telethon, and the organization is exploring a lesser role with either the tournament or the PGA Tour as a whole.” This year's event “will be played Nov. 8-11, which also will be the final edition" as part of the Fall Series. The PGA Tour schedule for the '13-14 season is “expected to begin with the Frys.com Open and Las Vegas stops, with Disney likely to be somewhere between fourth and sixth in the lineup.” The Disney event “will lose some of the drama of players last-gasp attempts to crack the top 125 in earnings and keep a full card for the next year” (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 10/17).
Churchill Downs Inc.’s newly launched gambling website Luckity.com is “an attempt to attract a broader gambling audience that is less interested in horse racing, generating revenues to result in fatter racing purses and bigger payouts,” according to a front-page piece by Gregory Hall of the Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL. Luckity.com gamblers can “bet their lucky number or have the game choose a number for them.” Rather than "spinning wheels, horses in races running live somewhere around the world determine a winning bet.” Churchill Downs Interactive President & CDI Senior VP/Business Development Ted Gay said that the “target demographic is women over 35 who enjoy slots, the lottery and social networking games.” The game is "more aimed at the gambler who couldn't be bothered by the difference between a filly and a mere." Gay added that the target customer is “more likely to attend night racing and bet casually on their favorite names or jockeys.” Gay “declined to specify the amount invested in Luckity or discuss revenue projections.” But he said that “horse owners and true horse bettors stand to see bigger purses and payouts as more money goes into the betting pool.” Kentucky Horsemen's Benevolent & Protective Association Exec Dir Marty Maline said that it “remains to be seen whether this effort by Churchill pays off commercially.” Hall notes overnights and early weekdays “will be slower for Luckity because of the limited number of races available.” Weekends will be “the peak time, as more races run domestically and internationally.” The site “offers 24 cash games, with more planned” and “attempts to reduce pari-mutuel wagering to simpler terms.” Luckity.com “benefits from some of the more than $200 million Churchill invested in its TwinSpires.com online pari-mutuel betting site” (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 10/17).
The Cardinals "are the third-best selling MLB team" on Fanatics.com behind the Yankees and Tigers, according to the website's figures cited by Joe Holleman of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. The Cardinals "have the biggest jump in sales among all MLB teams" at 162% from the first week of October to the second week of the month. The jersey of Cardinals 3B David Freese "is No. 5 among all jerseys in sales" behind Yankees SS Derek Jeter, Tigers 3B Miguel Cabrera, Giants C Buster Posey and Braves 3B Chipper Jones (STLTODAY.com, 10/16). Cardinals PR & Civic Affairs Dir Ron Watermon said the team's social media accounts have experienced an "explosion" of growth during the postseason. In St. Louis, Matthew Hibbard notes the team has "added more than 12,000 new fans" to its Facebook page since Oct. 8. The Cardinals also have added "more than 14,000" Twitter followers. Watermon said that the team's Instagram account has grown 427% "from 980 followers on Sept. 18 to 5,162 followers" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 10/15).
YOUR NAME HERE: In Detroit, Bill Shea cites data from sponsorship measurement firm Front Row Analytics showing that Dallas-based Comerica Bank "potentially will reap $22.1 million worth of local and national broadcast media marketing exposure value from Detroit Tigers playoff games at Comerica Park." Front Row Senior VP Eric Smallwood said that the value is "calculated by examining all of the bank's signage at the ballpark, which includes the foul poles, scoreboard, upper fascia and elsewhere, along with verbal mentions by TBS, Fox and MLB Network broadcasters and images on broadcasts." Shea notes the $22.1M is "if the Tigers play the maximum number of home games through the World Series" (CRAINSDETROIT.com, 10/16).