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SBD/October 24, 2013/Marketing and SponsorshipPrint All
Riddell President Dan Arment declined to confirm the NFL would end its nearly 25-year sponsorship and licensing agreement with the helmet maker when the deal expires at the end of the season. Speaking last night after a Riddell promotional event for the company’s impact sensory device, Arment said Riddell looks forward to a continuing relationship with the NFL. Asked if that meant something other than the relationship of the past, Arment said Riddell could not comment on ongoing talks. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was quoted on MMQB.SI.com this week saying, “We’re not going to be extending our agreement with Riddell or anybody else. ... We actually put [on] a deadline, negotiated it back and said, ‘We want this over.’ ... We had to use quite a bit of leverage to get there, but we got there.” When questioned on what Goodell was quoted saying, Arment said he would not comment on speculation. Asked how the commissioner's comments were speculative, Arment again reiterated Riddell would not comment about ongoing talks. An NFL spokesperson wrote in an e-mail, “We do not have anything further to say beyond the Commissioner’s comments. Agreement expires after this season.” Currently players can wear helmets other than Riddell, and about one-third do so, but only Riddell’s logo can appear on the helmet. That has led some to suggest that the NFL is endorsing Riddell, which has become problematic because of the ongoing concussion issue. Riddell, unlike the NFL, recently declined to settle a class action lawsuit brought by thousands of former NFL players. Riddell’s original '89 deal, reached when many helmet makers were going out of business, was signed in perpetuity. At some point in the last several years, the NFL was able to redo the contract so it would expire after the '13 season.
MLB has 19 national sponsors whose exclusivity is "zealously protected at what baseball calls its jewel events -- the All-Star Game and the postseason," according to Paul White of USA TODAY. So viewers are "only going to see Gatorade in the dugout, no matter what deals individual clubs have with other companies during the season." It goes so far that the Fenway Park grounds crew "has had to use a backup tarp on the field during the playoffs because their regular one has a giant L.L. Bean logo -- and that's not even a competitor of an MLB national sponsor." MLB VP/Corporate Sales & Marketing Jeremy Cohen said, "On-field is kind of the holy ground, if you will, and that's the ground where we try to protect as much as possible. We protect our partners and you can protect them even better when can take everything out." In the case of the tarp, L.L. Bean is "a local sponsor, which means their deal is with the Red Sox for the 81-game regular season." Same for Dunkin' Donuts, whose logos are "all over the Fenway dugouts." But "not now." They have been "covered with World Series signage." Cohen said, "Our area that we can protect in the postseason is foul pole to foul pole, foul territory and field level." He added, "We work very closely with the clubs. This starts with a preliminary e-mail in July to the clubs in contention. ... We get on the phone with them at the end of August and we start telling them what needs to be switched, what can stay." There is someone in place to "make sure a manager or player heading into a postgame media session isn't carrying or wearing something from what in essence is MLB's other list of banned substances" (USA TODAY, 10/24).
CASHING IN: THESTREET.com's Antonio Alfonso noted the bigger sponsors of the Red Sox and Cardinals "will expect a home run of their own during the series." Alfonso decided to "screen World Series sponsors with parameters like cross-sponsorship between both pennant winners, strong earnings per share (EPS) growth for next year, and high performance this past year." Bank of America is a sponsor of both teams, which means "billboards and commercials will surely include their brand during the World Series this year." Dunkin' Donuts, a major sponsor of the Red Sox, "could get a lot of positive exposure" with Fenway Park possibly hosting four World Series games (THESTREET.com, 10/22).
MLS Crew F Dominic Oduro could be in line for an extension of his endorsement deal with Papa John's of Central Ohio after garnering national attention last month for chomping on a slice of pizza during a goal celebration. Oduro, who leads the Crew in goals this season with 13, signed a one-year deal with the pizza chain earlier this year. His contract with the Crew is set to expire after this season, but Papa John’s of Central Ohio Dir of Marketing & Sales Elspeth Paige Sack said the partnership has been such a success that if the club re-signs him, the franchisee will too. Papa John’s of Central Ohio, which has 26 different locations, in February signed a corporate sponsorship deal with the Crew. Oduro piggybacked his way into the fold after professing his love for the company on social media once he found out about the team’s deal. Terms of the endorsement with Oduro were not disclosed, but he does collect a fee -- and free slices -- for his efforts. The partnership has seen the player partake in a number of different promotions, including a day in which he took a turn as a delivery driver. Perhaps the biggest effort was with the Crew Pie, which saw the company create a special, extra large cheese pizza deal that sold during the MLS season for $11, the same number Oduro wears. Papa John's said that particular activation has exceeded expectations, and eight-inch personal pizza sales at Crew Stadium are up double digits as well.
VIRAL CELEBRATION: For all the success of the deal's off-field activations, last month’s goal celebration almost certainly generated the most headlines. The meticulously planned stunt saw Oduro run to a Crew staff member after scoring in a Sept. 21 match against the Fire, grab a Papa John’s pizza box, take a bite out of a slice, then hand the box to a group of fans. Video of the celebration went viral, catching not only the attention of Papa John’s national marketing office, but also sports sites such as Deadspin and Yahoo. Jay Leno even used it as part of a skit on “The Tonight Show,” -- a fact that stunned Crew VP/Corporate Sponsorships Chris Previte. He said of finding out about the Leno segment, “I was floored -- in a good way. Obviously the partner was delighted, but this got national attention. It’s gotten some great kudos for them and what they have done with the relationship. So it’s been huge.” Oduro, who came up with the idea on his own, only went through with it after checking with his coach to make sure he would not be disciplined for it. He also checked with MLS officials to ensure he would not recieve a yellow card. He wanted the celebration to occur at home, but it took weeks to pull off after he developed a pattern of only scoring on the road. Oduro said he was so caught up in the game when he finally did score at home, he nearly forgot about the celebration.
Citi today announced its “Every Step of the Way” program will return and be the centerpiece of its marketing for the '14 Sochi Games. The bank donated $500,000 to the USOC that will be directed to sports programs across the country. The company signed nine Olympians and Olympic hopefuls who have chosen the sports programs eligible to receive the donations. Fans can determine how the money is awarded by visiting citi.com/everystep and joining the “team” of one of the athletes, which will result in an award of $5 to sports organizations ranging from Figure Skating in Harlem to Stay on the Slopes. The program will be supported by TV, print and out-of-home advertising. Citi will debut a spot featuring its athletes in mid-January and will host Olympic-related events at retail branches across the U.S. in '14. Citi first developed “Every Step of the Way” for the '12 London Games. The initiative was recognized by PR Week as the Cause-Related Campaign of the Year.
ATHLETESPORTCAUSEJulie ChuhockeyUSA Hockey Foundation's
"Try Hockey for Free"Billy Demongnordic combinedTeam for TomorrowErin HamlinlugeUSA Slider SearchTed Ligetyalpine skiingYouth Enrichment ServicesEvan Lysacekfigure skatingFigure Skating in HarlemDan Jansenspeed skatingOlympians for Olympians Relief FundPicabo Streetalpine skiingUSOC Stay on the Slopes InitiativeAlana NicholsParalympic skiingParalympic Champions FundRico RomanParalympic sled hockeyOperation Comfort
The Ravens are "getting $130,000 from American taxpayers to promote Obamacare," according to documents cited by JUDICIALWATCH.org. The deal between the Ravens, NFL and Maryland health officials was "secured on September 9." Maryland officials "evidently appealed directly to the home team, announcing in early September that the Ravens would help market" the state's Obamacare exchange known as Maryland Health Connection. In an agreement between the Ravens and the Maryland Health Connection, the state will pay the team $130,000 to "push Obamacare on television, radio, the team's official website, its newsletter and in social media." This includes the Ravens Report cable TV show and "a number of pre and post-game radio segments as well as Facebook and Twitter plugs" (JUDICIALWATCH.org, 10/22). PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Mike Florio noted it is an advertising deal "struck by a for-profit entity that has the ability to project a message to a lot of people." The "powers-that-be in Maryland want citizens to be aware of the new healthcare law and, ultimately, their options and rights under it." Regardless of "what anyone thinks or believes or fears about Obamacare, the Ravens are simply doing what professional sports teams do: Collecting money for sharing a slice of the high profile that professional sports teams enjoy." In a capitalistic society, "how can anyone fault the Ravens for capitalizing on the ability to pocket $130,000 in advertising dollars that otherwise would have been used elsewhere?" (PROFOOTBALLTALK.com, 10/23).
In Pittsburgh, Shelly Anderson writes Penguins C Sidney Crosby is "serious about screening brands when it comes to signing endorsement deals." Crosby said, "Whatever it is, if you form a partnership with a company, a brand, you have to agree with what they want and what they stand for." Crosby's agent, Pat Brisson, said that Crosby's "image and his influence when it comes to youngsters is important to him and is taken into account when he weighs endorsement offers" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 10/24).
SPORTING LIFE: SI's Melissa Segura reports a group of L.A. civil rights leaders recently called for an investigation of MLS Galaxy shirt sponsor Herbalife "for what they claim are deceptive and predatory business practices targeting minorities." The relationship between Galaxy and Herbalife "begs a larger question: What -- if any -- responsibility do teams and athletes have to fans when choosing a sponsor?" Herbalife VP/Worldwide Corporate Communications Julian Cacchioli "dismissed the allegations." Cacchioli said, "We continue to have great relationships with the teams and athletes we sponsor." A Galaxy spokesperson said the team looks "forward to developing its relationship with Herbalife" (SI, 10/28 issue).
IN THE CROSSHAIRS: SPORTING NEWS' Bob Pockrass wrote as NASCAR driver Kyle Larson replaces Juan Pablo Montoya next year with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, he already has "been to Minneapolis to talk to Target executives and also go through some media training." Target is the primary sponsor of the No. 42 car. Larson will have to get used to "making sure he doesn’t enter a Target competitor." Larson said, "You can’t be going to a different store. Somebody might take a picture of you and you’d get in trouble. But Target is everywhere. You can find them pretty easy" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 10/23).
GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN: Dan Marino has not played for the Dolphins since '99, but his presence still looms large due to his endorsement deals with several companies. Showtime's Phil Simms said of visiting Miami, “Everywhere you go, you see billboards of Dan Marino.” Marino asked, “What’s wrong with that?” Simms: “How much (money) do you need?” Marino replied, “Listen, money talks but cash screams, don’t ever forget that” (“Inside the NFL,” Showtime, 10/23).