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NFL VP/Communications Brian McCarthy on Friday in an e-mail wrote that the league "has 'no plans' to work with the Obama administration in educating the public about the president's controversial health care reform," commonly referred to as Obamacare, according to Ashley Killough of CNN.com. McCarthy added that the league has "responded to letters they received from members of Congress." He said the NFL has had "no substantive contact with the administration about" the prospective campaign. The Obama administration is "embarking on a major campaign to spread the word about the upcoming health care changes." U.S. Senators Mitch McConnell (R- Ky.) and John Cornyn (R- Tx.) advised the NFL it "would not be a smart move" to agree to the campaign. The letter in addition to being sent to the NFL was sent to the NBA, MLB, NHL, PGA Tour and NASCAR Chair & CEO Brian France (CNN.com, 6/28). McConnell and Cornyn wrote, "Given the divisiveness and persistent unpopularity of the health care (law), it is difficult to understand why an organization like yours would risk damaging its inclusive and apolitical brand by lending its name to its promotion." U.S. Health & Human Services (HSS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius last week said that she is "in conversations with some sports leagues about potential partnerships to promote enrollment in the president’s health law this summer and fall." POLITICO's Jennifer Haberkorn noted sports partnerships with the Obama administration "could come at a risk." The health law "still has significant opposition," and some athletes "may be skeptical about being cozy with the Obama administration's signature law" (POLITICO.com, 6/28). In DC, Somashekhar & Bernstein cited an MLB spokesperson as saying that the league "had been contacted by the White House." But the spokesperson added that the administration "canceled the meeting and that the MLB has not been provided with any information to make a decision." An NHL spokesperson on Friday said that the White House "postponed a planned meeting, and that it had not made a decision about a partnership" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/29).
THE COVETED DEMOGRAPHIC: The NATIONAL JOURNAL's Catherine Hollander noted HHS "doesn’t have much money for ads, so sports-league partnerships are an efficient use of cash because they allow it to reach the 'bro' demographic -- healthy, uninsured young men." It is "not yet clear what form a partnership between HHS and the football or other sports leagues would take." Sebelius said that they were "discussing paid advertising as well as other agreements." The administration in any case "has a tough road ahead" (NATIONAL JOURNAL, 6/29). THEHILL.com's Elise Viebeck noted McConnell and Cornyn also "warned the leagues not to follow the precedent" of the Red Sox organization, which "promoted the Massachusetts healthcare overhaul" in '07 (THEHILL.com, 6/28). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Amy Schatz notes, "The Obama administration's effort to draft athletes and sports leagues to promote health insurance to the uninsured is off to a rocky start." The "benefits of using athletes and celebrities to promote health insurance to millions of uninsured young adults are clear for the Obama administration." Less "obvious are the benefits to the sports leagues and celebrities being courted to promote the Affordable Care Act." Sebelius "didn't name the other sports leagues contacted by officials." An NBA spokesperson said the league had "nothing we plan to announce at this point." 16W Marketing co-Founder & Partner Frank Vuono said that the NFL "might benefit from promoting health insurance after its struggles with player-safety issues." He added, "It's a pretty smart thing on the NFL's behalf, to be pro-health and friendly with the federal government at this point. Yeah, there could be a backlash from more conservative states. Do I think that would translate into people not rooting for their favorite team in the fall? I don't think so" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/1).
EA Sports on Friday announced that it has signed EPL club Manchester United F Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez to a multiyear endorsement deal that will see him make his debut on the cover of "FIFA 14" in Mexico, and on one of two covers in the U.S. Hernandez will appear wearing the Mexican national team home kit alongside La Liga club FC Barcelona F Lionel Messi. Fans in the U.S. also will have the option to choose the global cover featuring an image of Messi. The deal will see Hernandez become an EA Sports football ambassador. He will be the focal point of marketing and ad campaigns in Mexico and North America. Meanwhile, EA on Friday also announced that Devils G Martin Brodeur was selected by fans as the EA Sports "NHL 14" cover athlete. Brodeur defeated Blue Jackets G Sergei Bobrovsky to claim the cover. The cover will be the first to feature a goalie since former NHLer John Vanbiesbrouck appeared on the '97 edition. Fans cast more than 22 million votes in the second annual cover athlete campaign (EA Sports).
In a “crowded and competitive marketplace, on-course fashion decisions are more carefully orchestrated than ever before” for pro golfers as companies that “supply the clothes tell the pros not just what to wear but when to wear it,” according to Chelsea Janes of the WASHINGTON POST. In an “effort to increase visibility and spark sales, most companies ‘script’ their sponsored players’ outfits for each day of a major championship.” PGAer Billy Horschel had been “scheduled to don his cephalopod slacks” during the third round of the U.S. Open two weeks ago, but once he played his way into contention, Polo execs "switched them to Sunday, when TV viewership would be highest.” Nike Golf Men’s Product Dir Eric Schendler said that the company “emphasizes scripting to take advantage of ‘major moments’ and ‘define what an athlete’s look will be and make a statement as a brand.’” adidas/TaylorMade “employed what Senior Director of Global Marketing Davide Mattucci called ‘team scripting’ at this year’s Masters: It dressed its sponsored players in the same outfits.” Mattucci said the company’s website was “flooded” with orders for those products. But he added that the company “hasn’t decided whether or not to try it again” (WASHINGTON POST, 6/29).
FINDING HIS STYLE: In N.Y., Scott Cacciola wrote Horschel “made his biggest sartorial splash by wearing octopus-print pants” at the U.S. Open two weeks ago. Horschel now has “embraced a sense of style.” On the course, he “favors slim-fitting slacks designed by Ralph Lauren, European-cut polos and wingtip shoes.” Yet there also is “a serious side to Horschel’s fashion whimsies.” Those closest to him “see a direct correlation between the way he dresses and the way he plays.” For a golfer who “can be particularly tough on himself, Horschel has found that wearing cool clothes calms him down.” Cacciola noted bold clothes are “not exactly new to golf,” but golfers in general “err on the side of caution.” Buddy Alexander, who coached Horschel when he played at the Univ. of Florida, said that Horschel in college “was conscious of the way he looked and what he wore.” Horschel as a senior was “involved in the selection of team uniforms.” When a rep for Ralph Lauren, one of his sponsors, asked if “he would be interested in wearing octopus pants at the United States Open, Horschel said yes, because he thought that octopus was a new cut.” Horschel said, “But then the octopus pants came, and I realized, oh, there’s an actual octopus on them”(N.Y. TIMES, 6/30).
Appalachian State Univ. on Thursday unveiled new Nike football uniforms that feature five combinations: black jerseys/black pants; white jerseys/white pants; black jerseys/white pants; white jerseys/black pants; and an alternate grey jersey with black pants. The grey alternate jerseys will be auctioned to fans following the season (ASU). CBSSPORTS.com's Jerry Hinnen wrote of the uniforms, "Perhaps the most interesting wrinkle is the move toward a matte-finish helmet and the use of the classic 'Yosef' logo (corncob pipe and all) on an alternate helmet" (CBSSPORTS.com, 6/28).
BIG 3-PEAT? In Miami, Barry Jackson noted Heat President Pat Riley "has a trademark on the term three-peat, which he and a business partner secured before the Lakers fell short of doing it" in '89. Riley said “it might be a little bit presumptuous to put it out there” for next season. Riley: “I’m not sure the Heat wants to use that as a trademark. We haven’t talked about it. I’m not using this as a platform to become a brand and make money off it” (MIAMI HERALD, 6/30). FOXSPORTS.com's Liz Claman noted Riley "works to raise money through a variety of charitable efforts" and "gets a portion of the proceeds when 'three-peat’' is used on apparel and for other marketing purposes, including when the term is on mugs, plates, posters and bumper stickers." Riley "could combine that savvy business move" of trademarking the term "with a stellar NBA season to further benefit those in need" (FOXSPORTS.com, 6/28).
WHO'LL STOP THE RAIN: The NHL has signed a sponsorship deal that makes Anco Wipers the official wiper blade of the league. Terms were not disclosed. The league’s deal was signed with Anco parent company Federal-Mogul Corp. Anco will sponsor several events throughout the ’13-14 season and will be featured in broadcast, online and social media campaigns (Christopher Botta, Staff Writer).