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With the hype surrounding brothers Jim and John Harbaugh coaching against each other in Super Bowl XLVII reaching levels of hype only the Super Bowl can fuel, the NFL has given its licensees the go-ahead to proceed with Super Bowl products bearing the slogan “Super Bro.” Another slogan under consideration was “Har Bowl," but NFL Senior VP/Consumer Products Leo Kane said “Super Bro" is "more directed toward the game, so that’s what we chose, so the emphasis is on the game where it belongs." He added, “We hope to have product out there shortly." Kane said that he is in conversations with apparel and hard-goods licensees across all channels of retail distribution. Given the short window for sales, there is no specific “Super Bro” graphic. The NFL has told licensees they can use a stock photo or team logos on their products. “We don’t think anyone who sees 'Super Bro' on products won’t understand it," Kane said.
Nike has the “Midas touch with nearly every sport, but in golf it remains just one of several brands scrapping for a larger piece of a pie that shows no obvious signs of getting bigger,” according to Allan Brettman of the Portland OREGONIAN. Nike Golf is “still a relative newcomer next to more established brands like Callaway, Ping and Titleist -- and the company with the biggest market share, TaylorMade.” The brand “signed its first golfer -- Seve Ballesteros of Spain -- nearly three decades ago.” But Nike Golf “didn't get into the game in earnest until 2002, when it introduced its first clubs.” In a “crowded field, Nike Golf has had to struggle, trailing at least five other brands in several club categories.” But when it “comes to clothes, the swoosh's historic sweet spot, Nike Golf ranks first in apparel sales and second in footwear.” The brand has “always presented an unusual fit with the more sedate -- and decidedly older-skewing -- game of golf.” But with last week's signing of Rory McIlroy, Nike has “made clear it is as committed to the sport as it was in 1996" when it signed Tiger Woods. There “aren't many categories in which Adidas competes head-to-head with Nike and can claim supremacy over its archrival.” But in golf, adidas-owned TaylorMade can. Nike Golf President Cindy Davis said that “striving to be the top brand was a big motivation for Nike Golf.” Brettman notes Nike last year “had about 7 percent market share -- $726 million in sales -- of golf's $10 billion market.” Davis said the market share will improve "with innovative products.” Davis: “We've got a great recipe and we're driving really solid growth" (Portland OREGONIAN, 1/25).
SALES GAIN FOR SECOND STRAIGHT YEAR: In Portland, Erik Siemers notes Nike Golf last year “posted its second-straight year of sales gains last year after a three-year decline that coincided with the economic recession and Nike Golf athlete Tiger Woods’ on- and off-course regression.”Data from Florida-based research firm Golf Datatech shows that the gains “follow a year in which total sales at U.S. club shops and golf specialty stores grew 8.6 percent across all categories to more than $3.3 billion.” With the industry on the rise, D.A. Davidson golf analyst Andrew Burns believes that two brands will “stand out -- archrivals Adidas and Nike.” He said, “What you have is TaylorMade and Nike really emerging as leaders in the sport, backed by very large pocket books and a knack for compelling product design” (PORTLAND BUSINESS JOURNAL, 1/28 issue).
Super Bowl XLVII auto advertisers “will be featuring womanly curves and revving up humor to promote their big-ticket machines” instead of showing "cars hugging curves,” according to Petrecca & Woodyard of USA TODAY. A Kia ad for the Sorento SX Limited crossover SUV “shows toddlers and baby animals rocketing to Earth from outer space.” They are “part of a tall tale” that a father uses to answer his son’s questions, “Where do babies come from?” A second Kia commercial “shows a sexy robot-like woman roughing up a man after he kicks the tire of a new Forte EX compact sedan.” Toyota’s ad for the RAV4 features actress Kaley Cuoco as a “genie who fulfills a family’s wishes.” Among their “desires: becoming a princess and eating copious amounts of chocolate.” Audi’s ad stars a “prom-goer who is dateless but goes confidently in his dad’s S6 performance sedan.” Once there, he “boldly kisses the prom queen and is confronted by the prom king.” Audi posted three ads “with alternate endings on its YouTube channel and asked viewers to vote” for the ending to be seen during the game. Meanwhile, the first of Hyundai's two in-game ads promotes its Santa Fe brand and "involves a boy who creates his own dream team to take on ‘neighborhood troublemakers.’” The second shows a “couple on a road trip as they dodge unexpected obstacles in a Sonata turbo sedan” (USA TODAY, 1/25). AD WEEK’s Andrew McCains asked Hyundai Motor America VP/Marketing Steve Shannon how the “crowd of automakers in the game” influences the company’s creative approach. Shannon said, “You need to be more mindful of what the setting is, what the competition is. In the Academy Awards (where Hyundai is the exclusive automotive sponsor), we don't worry much about Target or Dove. Now, in the game, we don't try at all to suss out, what do we think Mercedes will do or what do you we think Kate (Upton, star of this year's Mercedes ad) will do. We do our thing, but it's a little more mindful of breaking out, taking advantage of that passion in the advertising and at the margin being upbeat and funny” (ADWEEK.com, 1/24).
BEHIND THE WHEEL: The TORONTO SUN reported Upton’s “saucy Super Bowl advertisement" has been criticized by a parenting group for "selling sexual objectification.” Mercedes-Benz’ 90-second promo starring Upton “has attracted heavy criticism from officials at the Parents Television Council.” A rep for the organization said, "This ad reinforces for millions of wives, daughters and sisters across the country that you use your sex appeal to get what you want. If anything, this ad proves that we’ve regressed rather than progressed over the last several years" (TORONTOSUN.com, 1/24).
RUNNING ON HIGH: MEDIA POST’s David Goetzl noted Skechers will “double its Super Bowl presence this year” from '12. The company said that it would “air two spots in the second quarter, one attached to the two-minute warning and another with football great Joe Montana.” The GORun line “will be plugged again,” but with a “cheetah trying to outrace a human with the shoes.” Montana will “back another line” (MEDIAPOST.com, 1/23).
With the recent controversies surrounding disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong and Notre Dame LB Manti Te'o, THE DAILY reached out to PR professionals for their take on how each athlete handled their respective image crisis. Former White House Communications Dir Kevin Sullivan, VMW Communications Owner Vince Wladika, former NBA Global Communications VP and DigitalSportsDesk.com Founder Terry Lyons, and DKC PR Managing Dir of Marketing & Government Affairs Scott Miranda each weighed in. Wladika set up the discussion by saying, "Tell the truth in the first place and in almost every instance, you'll not need crisis communications. ... A crisis communications plan is not to try to make you look as good as possible; it's to try to make you NOT look as bad as possible."
PR experts agree Armstrong's interview with Oprah
was not as effective as it could have been
Sullivan: Lance’s case shows that likability matters. Even though he was honest, took responsibility and thoroughly admitted he was wrong, his demeanor keeps people at a distance. All the emotion was on the second night when far fewer people were watching. He also could have addressed what he is planning to do to win back people’s trust.
Wladika: Tell the truth to everyone, not in a pre-conditioned set up with Oprah. His interview with Oprah was marked for failure before it ever happened. And just look at the press coverage afterwards. They didn’t move the needle one bit in Armstrong’s favor.
Lyons: Lance Armstrong was, is and always will be a pathetic figure -- the Bernie Madoff of sports. I found the decision to appear on Oprah interesting, and I think it was a good choice by his handlers. The problem was obvious: He showed zero remorse and did not come across as a sympathetic figure to an audience seeking an honest explanation. He has no chance.
Miranda: I feel he either lacked or failed to benefit from whatever formal media training he might have had prior to his Oprah interview. His answers and body language showed minimal sincere regret for those he hurt, the charity he forced into crisis mode, the sponsors he betrayed and the millions of fans to which he lied. The only glimpse of humility we saw occurred when talking about his son during part two when the rating was much lower.
Q: What immediate steps can Armstrong now take to rehab his image?
Sullivan: With the chip hopefully permanently extracted from his shoulder, he can double-down on the community of survivors who still believe in him. He can quietly volunteer his efforts to raise awareness and funding for survivorship and over time talk about the “process” he referred to as his path to becoming a changed person.
Wladika: Come fully clean (pun intended). Tell the full truth. But, of course I realize that he also has a few potential lawsuits hanging over his head, so that is a factor in any plan.
Lyons: He has no way to earn back the respect. America has the ability to be very forgiving, but I don’t believe Armstrong will EVER be forgiven.
Miranda: If I were advising him, I would suggest he take the necessary steps to rehabilitate his life and decline further media opportunities for the near future. If and when he ever feels comfortable enough to get back into the public eye, I would suggest he focus on educating young athletes about the perils of doping as well as supporting Livestrong in whatever capacity they deem appropriate. His problems did not begin overnight and will not go away because of one interview. He will be dealing with this for the rest of his life.
Te'o sat for an interview with Couric after first
giving ESPN's Schaap an off-camera interview
Sullivan: Appearing with (Notre Dame AD) Jack Swarbrick at the press conference would have taken much of the heat out of the story, even if he only answered a few questions. Then the next day he could have sat down with Jeremy Schaap -- on camera, for a longer-form conversation that could have aired on both ESPN and ABC -- reaching the same audience he ultimately pursued three days later with Katie Couric. His inaction made the story bigger each day. He wasn’t any better off after the Katie Couric interview than he was before he sat down with her.
Wladika: Unless he is complicit in some way, then he just should’ve told the truth -- as quickly as possible when he found out. ... Some of the things he is saying are questionable, and some things are still bothering me here. Armstrong needs to be very careful because of all the lawsuits and such against him, but Te’o has no such potential lawsuits so: Why did he wait so long to speak in the first place? Why was there a lawyer in the room? He and his team must’ve not gotten what they wanted out of the (Jeremy) Schaap interview for them to now run to Couric.
Lyons: It was painfully obvious that Manti Te'o was in over his head with the way he handled the entire situation. Yes, he could've done better, but I honestly believe his mistakes are the same as those made by thousands of high school and college kids who are duped online. I'm not sure I would've had him sit down with Katie Couric. I would’ve advised him to work within the sports world first, then do Katie’s show the same day. It would have forced Couric’s producers to air it, instead of tease it.
Q: What immediate steps can Te’o now take to rehab his image?
Sullivan: Unlike Armstrong, Te’o has the enormous advantage of being able to get back on the playing field. He needs to develop a credible answer to briefly explain how naive he was without re-hashing every detail, develop an extra-thick skin, and let his play on the field help put this behind him the way Kobe Bryant, Ray Lewis, Miguel Cabrera and countless others who faced personal crises have before him.
Wladika: Tell the full, complete truth. When you do that, you basically put the story to bed. When you keep telling partial truths, you keep feeding the media fire that’s consuming you. However, with (admitted Te'o hoaxer Ronaiah) Tuiasosopo still out hanging out there and not talking, Te’o will still have trouble controlling his message.
Lyons: Te'o has the opportunity to earn the respect of a legion of football fans and all he has to do is go out every Sunday, play hard and perform at the high levels he is capable of and it starts at the NFL Combine. If he becomes an All-Pro linebacker, the entire moronic controversy will be reduced to re-runs of "SNL" skits. By the way, the best line that I've heard is that Bill Belichick orchestrated the whole thing so he could pick Te'o with the 29th pick. I wish I had thought of that one-liner.