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The Seahawks in the wake of their Super Bowl title are "now at the top of the NFL in merchandise sales," and QB Russell Wilson "now has the top-selling jersey," according to Bob Condotta of the SEATTLE TIMES. The Seahawks "ranked fourth in merchandise sales on Dec. 31," but "more Seahawks merchandise has been sold in a period from April 1, 2013 to Feb. 28, 2014 than that of any other team." The Seahawks are followed by the Broncos, 49ers and Cowboys. An NFL official said that it is the "first time the Seahawks have been at the top of merchandise sales and that Wilson has had the top-selling jersey." Wilson was third on Dec. 31 behind 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick and Broncos QB Peyton Manning. Manning is "now second to Wilson and Kaepernick third." NFL Senior VP/Consumer Products Leo Kane said the spike in purchases of Seahawks merchandise and jerseys “is one of the best we’ve ever had, if not the best ever." Condotta notes not only is Wilson "first among players," but Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch is fifth and CB Richard Sherman sixth. Lynch ranked 11th on Dec. 31, and Sherman 19th (SEATTLE TIMES, 3/5).
NFLSHOP.COM TOP 25 PLAYER JERSEY SALES RANKINGSRK
PLAYERRK PLAYER1 Seahawks QB Russell Wilson14 Eagles RB LeSean McCoy
Broncos QB Peyton Manning
Panthers QB Cam Newton
49ers QB Colin Kaepernick
Colts QB Andrew Luck
Patriots QB Tom Brady17 Cowboys TE Jason Witten
Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch18 Texans DE J.J. Watt
Seahawks CB Richard Sherman19 Broncos WR Wes Welker
Saints QB Drew Brees
Packers LB Clay Matthews
Vikings QB Adrian Peterson
Giants QB Eli Manning
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers
Giants WR Victor Cruz
Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill
Cowboys QB Tony Romo
Redskins QB Robert Griffin III24 Steelers S Troy Polamalu
Lions WR Calvin Johnson
Broncos WR Eric Decker
Cowboys WR Dez Bryant
WILSON, TEXAS RANGER: L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke said Wilson visiting the MLB Rangers' Spring Training outfit earlier this week was a "nice PR thing, and they sold a lot of jerseys." Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw said there was "nothing wrong with having him there for a motivational speech and to sell a lot of jerseys." ESPN's Tony Reali noted the Rangers "sold out of T-shirts in about 10 minutes." ESPN's Bomani Jones: "They sold a lot of shirts, everybody made a lot of money" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 3/4).
MLS CMO Howard Handler said that with the start of the '14 FIFA World Cup "less than 100 days away, MLS will break a new campaign this week themed 'MLS: For Club and Country,'" according to Michael McCarthy of AD AGE. The effort "touts the start of the league's season on March 8." He added that the campaign will "hammer home the theme that soccer fans can watch many of the American and international stars of this summer's World Cup ... at MLS games this spring." A new print ad "featuring MLS stars will declare: 'March to Brazil. It all starts here. MLS. For Club and Country.'" There will be "a billboard in Times Square," and "a heavy dose of digital advertising on MLSSoccer.com and YouTube, plus sports sites such as SB Nation and Bleacher Report." Across social media channels, the league "will employ the hashtag: #ItAllStartsHere." The campaign "was created in-house." Meanwhile, the league is "picking up new corporate sponsors for the season." MLS is "expected to announce a sponsorship deal later this week with Kraft Beverages, which markets brands such as Capri Sun, Kool-Aid, Country Time Lemonade and Tang." Under the deal, Kraft will "become the official juice drink and powdered beverage of MLS." MLS and Chipotle Mexican Grill on Monday announced that "Chipotle has become the official fast-casual Mexican restaurant of MLS and a dozen MLS Clubs" (ADAGE.com, 3/5).
Gold Medal-winning U.S. skier Mikaela Shiffrin and U.S. snowboarder Sage Kotsenburg are "the newest Wheaties faces," but the question is whether "the world's greatest athletes [are] capable of selling" the cereal, according to Gasparro & Wallerson of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Wheaties was "once a king of the cereal aisle" but is "a laggard nowadays, ranking 17th among U.S. cereal brands." General Mills, which makes Wheaties, "declined to comment on market share," and also "declined to discuss the financial arrangements it strikes with athletes or the process by which it chooses who appears on boxes of Wheaties, known as 'the Breakfast of Champions.'" Wheaties, "unlike many of the athletes who have appeared on its box -- Lance Armstrong, for instance, or Pete Rose or Tiger Woods ... has never been the subject of scandal." Analysts say that the "flakes of dry wheat are widely perceived as boring." The first athlete to be featured on the box was Lou Gehrig in '34, and Basketball HOFer Michael Jordan "holds the record for most appearances at 18." The money that comes with a Wheaties appearance "may not mean much to well-paid stars." Tennis HOFer Chris Evert said the money "certainly didn't stand out." But it "can mean a lot to Olympians who often live hand-to-mouth." Octagon Managing Dir of Olympic & Action Sports Peter Carlisle said, "The Wheaties box is iconic and very valuable for an athlete" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/5).
WHEATIES COVER ATHLETES BY SPORT
SPORTATHLETES SPORTATHLETES Baseball161 Winter Olympics15 Football130 Auto racing14 Basketball48 Tennis10 Summer Olympics31 Soccer8 Hockey20 Wrestling, marathon, boxingTied at 4 Golf19
U.K.-based gaming company Sportech is "aiming to expand further in the United States by offering Internet betting on horse racing in Connecticut and opening sports bars there and in California," according to Keith Weir of REUTERS. The company "has been expanding in America," and more than 60% of revenues "now come from U.S.-based operations, a major shift over the last four years." Sportech CEO Ian Penrose said that there "would be some 'heavy marketing spend' in the coming weeks to promote the new horse-racing website in Connecticut," where Sportech has an exclusive license. Sportech has "just opened a sports and betting bar in Connecticut and will launch a similar venue" near L.A. in the summer (REUTERS, 3/5).
The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Jonathan Welsh noted NASCAR driver Tony Stewart "dons a red dress shirt, cowboy hat and mustache in a teaser video for 'Smoke is the Bandit,' a coming web series promoting Mobil 1 engine oil and stock-car racing." The teaser is a "clear send-up" of the '77 car-chase film “Smokey and the Bandit.” Mobil 1 said that it will "reveal more about the coming series" tomorrow and added that the videos "will feature a number of well-known" NASCAR personalities (WSJ.com, 3/4).
OSHIE CAN YOU SEE? BLOOMBERG NEWS' Erik Matuszewski notes Blues RW T.J. Oshie has the NHL's "second-best selling jersey" since scoring four shootout goals for Team USA against Russia in the Sochi Games. Oshie trails only Penguins C Sidney Crosby "for the period from Feb. 12 -- the first day of the men's hockey tournament in Sochi -- through March 2." Oshie ranks 18th in "officially licensed jersey sales since the start of the NHL season" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 3/5).
MAKING THE TURN: adidas Golf and USA Golf yesterday announced that adidas will be the official uniform provider for players, coaches and staff for the U.S. men's and women's teams during the '16 Rio Games. adidas will develop USA Golf-branded apparel that will be introduced in late '14 (adidas).
LOVE ME TWO TIMES: BodyArmor SuperDrink yesterday named T'Wolves F Kevin Love an endorser in a deal that includes an equity stake in the company. Love also will be featured in retail promotions and web videos, and fans will have a chance to win Love's signed jersey worn in the videos via an Instagram contest that begins Friday. Other SuperDrink athlete endorsers include Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski, Rockets G James Harden, Colts QB Andrew Luck, Eagles RB LeSean McCoy and Angels CF Mike Trout (BodyArmor).