SBD/January 22, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

Sources: Notre Dame, Under Armour Deal Worth Nearly $90M Over 10 Years

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Swarbrick (l) and Plank said UA's equity in the deal is unique
Notre Dame and Under Armour yesterday announced that they have "agreed to the most valuable shoe and apparel contract in college sports history," according to Darren Rovell of ESPN.com. Notre Dame did "not reveal the value of the 10-year deal, which will begin when its contract with adidas expires at the end of June." But sources said that the "value of the deal, in cash and merchandise combined," is about $90M. That would "make the deal worth more" than the $82M adidas is "paying in cash and product to Michigan over 10 years." The deal could "eventually be worth even more" to Notre Dame, as AD Jack Swarbrick noted that it "allows the school to take some of the cash in company stock." UA currently has schoolwide deals with 12 other institutions. One point in the talks that was "not negotiable" was UA getting any signage in Notre Dame Stadium (ESPN.com, 1/21). UA said that it will "incorporate Notre Dame" into its marketing campaigns. Notre Dame Senior Associate AD/Media & Broadcast Relations John Heisler said that the university "wants to introduce more consistency into the uniforms of the school's 26 different teams, but dramatic changes are unlikely." In Baltimore, Natalie Sherman notes the "exception" could be Notre Dame's annual Shamrock Series game (Baltimore SUN, 1/22). Swarbrick yesterday said that he "approached the end of the Adidas contract with all options on the table." Swarbrick: “I really wanted to get to the market with a full opportunity for anybody to come forward and be our partner. I didn’t go into it with a front runner. We had no dissatisfaction with Adidas. They’ve been a great partner, and we’ve enjoyed working with them." UA Founder, Chair & CEO Kevin Plank and Swarbrick said that the "equity in Notre Dame's contract is unique in college sports." In South Bend, Kevin Allen notes UA has "offered stock to professional athletes" like Patriots QB Tom Brady. Plank said, "I want them rooting for the company and not because of some transactional endorsement, monetary number" (SOUTH BEND TRIBUNE, 1/22).

HEART OF GOLD: CSNCHICAGO.com's JJ Stankevitz wrote the deal is "another part of the modernization plan to keep Notre Dame competitive while retaining its storied history." For Notre Dame, the deal with UA is "positioned as a win-win: It allows the school to stay true to its past while also modernizing its 26 varsity athletic teams." But for UA, having Notre Dame "on its ledger is a massive win as it continues to take a greater piece of the market away from Nike, adidas and the like" (CSNCHICAGO.com, 1/21). CBS Sports Network's Tony Luftman said, “Notre Dame is at the top of the heap in terms of name recognition. Under Armour is on the rise. You give a company like Under Armour that’s cutting-edge in terms of technology and apparel that kind of brand to work with, this is an unbelievable match” ("Lead Off," CBS Sports Network, 1/21). The SOUTH BEND TRIBUNE's Allen wrote Notre Dame's "committed fan base likely will provide a larger marketing platform" for UA (SOUTHBENDTRIBUNE.com, 1/21). Plank said, "The one thing that keeps overwhelming me is that there are so many Notre Dame fans, so it's our job to access them and tap into them beyond just the alumni base. ... There are a billion Catholics in the world as well." He added, "It's a cool deal and something I think is a big watershed moment for our company too, and something 17 years in the making" ("Fast Money Halftime Report," CNBC, 1/21).
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