SBD/November 16, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

Miguel Cabrera Inks Deal With New Balance A Year After DUI Derailed Original Deal

Cabrera wore New Balance shoes two years before signing the deal
Tigers 3B Miguel Cabrera at the end of '12 season, "armed with all the Triple Crown marketing dollars ahead of him, chose New Balance over at least one other company that offered him more," according to Darren Rovell of ESPN.com. New Balance was "prepared to sign the superstar" a year before, but "a well-publicized DUI charge derailed that offer from the conservative New Balance." Despite that deal falling through, Cabrera wore New Balance shoes "for two seasons without a contract." Regarding his new deal, Cabrera said, "This wasn't about the money for me. New Balance really took care of me." New Balance Chair Jim Davis and his wife, Anne, have long "stood form on their stance: Pay small fees to get athletes, mostly runners, to make sure New Balance had a professional presence, but don't put them in any advertising." The company "even boldly made a point of it with campaigns with tag lines like 'Endorsed By No One.'" But by the late '90s, the "effects of taking a moral stance on endorsements were noticeable." That is when New Balance Sports Marketing/Team Sports GM Mark Cavanaugh "came from Nike" to the company and "found he couldn't do a good job without using athletes." Cavanaugh said, "The company realized that we were becoming known as just a running brand or my parents brand and that's not an enviable position for us from a market share standpoint." Today, New Balance is "on the feet of 380 players, roughly 220 of them on active" MLB rosters. Cavanaugh said that "about 30 percent of them are paid some form of cash, about 50 percent get free shoes and a merchandise credit with the company and the other 20 percent just wear the shoes for free with no contract" (ESPN.com, 11/15).
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