SBD/November 14, 2013/Marketing and SponsorshipPrint All
The NBA and adidas are "releasing new short-sleeved jerseys for players, and replicas for fans, too," a style which will "get a lot of exposure come Christmas, when it will be worn by the 10 teams playing that day," according to Elizabeth Holmes of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Players will "wear sleeved jerseys with a special, limited-edition graphic design, which the league is calling its Big Logo campaign." The team's logo "will feature prominently on the front" of the uniform. While only the teams playing on Christmas "will wear the new jerseys, adidas is making fan versions for those teams and five others in the league for $110." They go on sale today "at NBAStore.com, the NBA Store in New York and team retailers." NBA Exec VP/Global Merchandising Sal LaRocca said, "A shirt with short sleeves can probably be worn a little bit more effectively than a shirt with no sleeves." The sleeved Christmas Day jerseys are "part of a broader, continued effort by the league to make the sport synonymous with the holiday." Holmes reports the Christmas Day jerseys will "be featured in a new 30-second commercial, where five NBA stars in sleeved-jerseys hit choreographed three-point shots." The shots "fall through a series of hoops with jingle bells tied to the nets and it is set to Christmas music." Heat F LeBron James "swoops in at the end with an alley-oop." Sleeved jerseys will become a regular option, though adidas Head of Global Sports Marketing Chris Grancio said that it "won't replace the traditional tanktop." However, sleeved jerseys "will become part of the uniform rotation" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/14).
TWITTER REAX: Early reviews of the sleeved jerseys on Twitter were less than kind. ESPN's Kevin Negandhi wrote, "The NBA sleeve jerseys are awful." NFL.com's Albert Breer wrote, "Who the ____ thought these were cool?" MSG Network's Alan Hahn wrote, "Seriously, the NBA is trolling me at this point." St. Louis-based WGNU-AM's Joe Roderick: "The sleeves, the logos, the V-neck... is there one part of those jerseys that the @NBA got right?" ESPN.com's Tom Haberstroh: "If the NBA is going for that kid's rec soccer jersey look, they absolutely nailed it." The Houston Chronicle's Jonathan Feigen: "Would like to see commercial w/ someone pretending to like NBA Christmas sleeves when it is under the tree. 'No, really, hon. I do like it.'" The Washington Post's Michael Lee wrote of the Nets uniforms, "Looks like they're getting ready for volleyball."
NUMBERS GAME: The MOTLEY FOOL's Jake Mann wrote the "two most significant" reasons for the broader rollout of sleeved jerseys are "the potential to boost fan jersey sales [and] more on-jersey advertising space." It is estimated that "leaguewide jersey sales fell" from $3B in '10-11 to around $1B in the shortened '11-'12 season. While aggregate NBA revenues "recovered by 20% last year, problems remain." Specific retailers have "cited a lack of superstar turnover and the success of smaller-market teams as reasons behind a general bearishness in the jersey industry." The proliferation of sleeved jerseys "could renew fan interest in small- and big-market teams alike." After hitting the $5B total revenue mark last season, a similarly sized expansion this year indicates $6B is "a fair expectation." If the sleeved jerseys are successful though, it is "not unreasonable to expect upside to this number" in the range of $6.5-7B. When looking at the design of the new uniform option, two things "are immediately noticeable" -- there is a "chunk of space open on each sleeve" and the logos are "much smaller, leaving more empty space on the body." Both of these features are "attractive to potential advertisers." However, it is "quite possible" that sleeved jerseys could "go the way of the league's Noche Latina alternates that show up only a few times each season" (FOOL.com, 11/13).
The NFL this weekend is kicking off what is believed to be its first McDonald's Happy Meal premium promotion. The effort will be tied to the league's "NFL Rush Zone" animated property, which started online, and now airs on Nicktoons. Beginning this weekend, consumers buying Happy Meals at any of the QSR's 14,000-plus U.S. locations can get one of 32 figures of "NFL Rushers" from the animated show, each bearing a different team logo, packaged with a miniature football, which the figure can "throw." Tens of millions of the premiums are expected to be distributed over the four-week period of the promotion. McDonald's is supporting the promotion with dedicated TV advertising on kids TV outlets from Leo Burnett, along with digital support and various POS advertising. A Happy Meal program is a badge of honor for any property. While the NFL did some kids premiums from Burger King when it was a corporate sponsor from '05-08, this is a stake in the ground for the league. After struggling for a few years in the QSR category, it now has both Papa John’s and McDonald’s as large activators and buyers of NFL media. “We’ve been making headway with this property, but as the biggest consumer promotion for “Rush Zone" to date, this is really notable," said NFL VP/Fan Strategy & Marketing Peter O’Reilly. Seeking to broaden its appeal among kids, the league launched "NFL Rush Zone" several years ago. "NFL Rush Zone" is an online series that launches its second season Nov. 20 on Nicktoons, with 20 half-hour episodes. Consumer-product efforts have yielded a total of 13 licensees, making various products, including iPod and laptop skins from Skinit, and apparel, including T-shirts from Outer Stuff, one of which can be seen in a current NFLShop.com TV ad.
Pirates CF Andrew McCutchen is a finalist for the NL MVP Award, which will be awarded tonight, and he could "enhance his national profile ... [and] his bottom line" if he takes home the hardware, according to a front-page piece by Michael Sanserino of the PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE. Baker Street Advertising Senior VP & Exec Creative Director Bob Dorfman said that McCutchen could add as much as $1M to his lifetime earnings "by adding 'MVP' to his resume." However, that is "just a fraction of what he would earn in another sport," as baseball players "simply aren't as marketable as their peers in football and basketball." Dorfman: "It's a lot harder for baseball players to break through on a national level." Sanserino notes MLB "struggles to turn its stars into national brands, in part because the sport has such a regional appeal." The sport does have some "marketable young faces," such as Angels CF Mike Trout, Nationals LF Bryce Harper and Nationals P Stephen Strasburg, and McCutchen winning the MVP could "elevate him into that category." Full Athlete Marketing Owner & Publicist John Fuller said that since he began repping McCutchen in spring '12, endorsements "have exploded." He currently "has sponsorship deals with Nike and T-Mobile and was featured on a video game cover for 'MLB The Show' this year." He and Red Sox DH David Ortiz earlier this week "were named executive producers of an MTV show that focuses on baseball and pop culture." Fuller said of the MVP award, "It definitely makes him more marketable. It's a launching pad into superstar status as an athlete, in any league, to be an MVP" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 11/14).
Sports Authority CMO & Senior VP Paul Okimoto indicated that the company on Sunday will roll out its first national TV campaign in several years, featuring "imagery of real amateur athletes highlighting holiday gifts in the footwear, apparel and team sports categories," according to Meredith Derby Berg of AD AGE. Okimoto said, "We saw a chance to run counter to the technology and inspire people to unplug and give a more meaningful gift of the gift of sports." Berg reports Sports Authority partnered with Factory Design Labs, Denver, on the campaign, the first since the agency landed the retailer's business in July. The ad's tagline is, "All Things Sporting Good." Sports Authority "has not had a strong TV presence in many years aside from partnering with vendors for promotional content." Kantar Media data shows that the company only spent $4M on TV advertising in '12. Okimoto said that 15- and 30-second spots of the ad "will run through six weeks." On-air radio, print, circulars and online efforts "will complement the TV ads." Variations of the spot with the same theme "will 'evolve the campaign' into the first quarter." Okimoto said that in total, the spot "launches a new three-year vision for the brand, and he expects it to help reinvigorate the Sports Authority brand in the eyes of consumers" in '14. Outtakes will be released from "shoots with the amateur athletes in the first evolution of the campaign" (ADAGE.com, 11/14).
Retirement services company ING U.S.' decision to drop its title sponsorship marathons in N.Y., Miami and Hartford was "something of a head-scratcher," but whether it also is a "dumb marketing move is a more complicated question," according to Dan Haar of the HARTFORD COURANT. The company's name will change to Voya Financial starting in '14 after it spun off from Holland-based parent company ING Group in May. The sponsorships "brought the company wide recognition," so this could be a "lost opportunity." Miami Marathon co-Founder Frankie Ruiz said, "It's still mind-boggling to me that they walked away from the scene. They were entrenched. ... We had a beautiful marriage for eight years." Haar noted with "tens of millions of eyeballs on those distinctive, bright orange banners, it seems like ING could have extended the sponsorships by one more year at least, if only to get the Voya name out there." Neither the company nor the marathon organizers "would say how much ING plunked down for the race names, but Hartford is believed to be in the low hundreds of thousands of dollars per year; Miami is in the mid-six-figure range; and New York would be well over a million dollars." It is "possible that ING U.S. wants to distance itself from ING Group as it becomes Voya Financial." ING Group, "after all, spun off the U.S. business as a condition of a bailout in Europe." However ING U.S. Head of Strategic Communications Phil Margolis "rejected that concern" (HARTFORD COURANT, 11/13).