SBJ/November 10 - 16, 2003/Marketingsponsorship

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  • Adidas adds No. 2 NBA pick Milicic to its Continental collection

    While Reebok is trying to make Asian inroads with its signing of Yao Ming, Germany-based Adidas is employing more of a Continental strategy, signing No. 2 overall NBA pick Darko Milicic to a three-year (plus option year) endorsement deal.

    Milicic is one of a group of European players signed to play under the three-stripe banner. Other European rookies under contract to Adidas include the Phoenix Suns' Zarko Cabarkapa (like Milicic, from Serbia-Montenegro),

    Milicic
    New York's Maciej Lampe (Poland), Orlando's Zaza Pachulia (Georgia), Utah's Aleksandar Pavlovic (Serbia-Montenegro) and New Jersey's Zoran Planinic (Bosnia-Herzegovina).

    Milicic, Pavlovic and Planinic are all represented by Marc Cornstein's Pinnacle Management Corp.

    CONTINENTAL SHELF: Continental Airlines has added to its roster of New York-area team sponsorships, inking what sources said was a two-year, mid-six-figure deal that makes the Houston-based carrier the "official airline" of the New York Rangers.

    The sponsorship includes Madison Square Garden media, dasherboards and rotational signage, tickets and hospitality, as well as unique Rangers items and experiences (such as a private clinic, or admission to the Eric Lindros miniature golf tournament) that will be auctioned for frequent flier miles on Continental's Web site.

    Continental will also leverage with themed TV ads and a sponsorship of the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award, named for a paralyzed New York City police officer shot in the line of duty, which had been sponsored by American Express.

    Continental, which replaces Delta as the Rangers' official airline, sponsors every major professional team in the New York area except the New Jersey Nets and New York Islanders.

    SIGNAGE OF THE TIMES: We keep hearing about an economic turnaround, but we haven't seen many signs that there is one in sports marketing. However, if sales of Dorna's rotational signage are any indicator, maybe the freeze in marketing budgets has thawed a bit.

    Just a week or so into the new NBA season and just before the beginning of college basketball, Dorna reports that sales to its 24 NBA teams and 78 college programs are already 20 percent ahead of last season's sales for the entire season.

    Deals range from mid-six to low seven figures.

    New clients are PowerBar, Canon (for digital cameras), OfficeMax, Accent Highlighters, Russell Athletic and the Nivea for Men shaving/skin-care line. Renewals came from Ace Hardware, Adecco, Finish Line, Foot Locker, Geico, Hancock Tires, Lumber Liquidators, Mutual of Omaha, Reebok, Starter and Subway.

    NEW AND IMPROVED?: Regular readers of this space know we're always looking for the proverbial "next bobblehead." But what if the next bobblehead is simply a better version of the original product?

    Two recent patents were granted to Alliance Marketing of Conshohocken, Pa.: one for stadium bobbleheads (perfect for commemorating the closing of old venues or the opening of new ones) and one for bobble cars.

    A bobble coin bank is patent pending.

    Since so many banks and automotive concerns are big sports spenders, we're waiting to see if they'll hop on the bobblewagon.

    Plain old bobbleheads? Only to the untrained eye — these are freshly patented bobblecars.

    HERE & THERE: One entering and one leaving at Octagon: Senior vice president and head of sales Scott MacLeod exits, taking with him much of the firm's expertise in the world of sailing sponsorship. Joining as vice president of research is Simon Wardle, brought on to establish a research arm in the agency's Stamford, Conn., offices.

    At the NFL, Susan Rothman is elevated to vice president of consumer products. She has been with the NFL since 1995, most recently as senior director.

    Steve Cipolla has joined ESPN Enterprises as vice president/general manager of ESPN Consumer Products. He'll be charged with energizing the ESPN licensing program, which recently switched from Disney control to being under ESPN's aegis. Cipolla was with the parent company from 1989 to 2000, most recently serving as vice president of Disney merchandise licensing.

    Jeff Gonyo to director of advertising at MLB, reporting to senior vice president of advertising and marketing Jackie Parkes. Gonyo was with ESPN Productions for the past five years, handling some of its award-winning creative work. He has also worked for Ogilvy & Mather and Sneaker Stadium.

    Terry Lefton can be reached at tlefton@sportsbusinessjournal.com.

    Print | Tags: Adidas, Basketball, Continental Airlines, ESPN, Marketing and Sponsorship, NBA, NFL, Octagon Group, OfficeMax, Reebok, Russell Corp., Starter, Subway
  • Head/Penn signs Agassi beyond playing days

    Head/Penn Racquet Sports has renewed its partnership with Andre Agassi through a new contract that will cover the rest of Agassi's tennis career and his postcareer endeavors.

    Head/Penn was expected to announce the partnership extension last Sunday at the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup, which is taking place at the Westside Tennis Club in Houston. Agassi is one of eight singles players competing at the Tennis Masters Cup.

    Financial terms of the Agassi deal weren't disclosed. Industry sources characterized it as a multimillion-dollar deal.

    Agassi, who uses Head's Liquidmetal Radical racket, also endorses Penn tennis balls. He originally signed with Head in 1993, renewing his contract in 1999.

    "Andre is our pro tour voice," said Kevin Kempin, vice president of sales and marketing for Head/Penn Racquet Sports. "For us, this is a very strategic deal. Andre's recognition is so incredibly global. He is as popular, if not more so, in Europe and Japan than he is in the U.S."

    Perry Rogers, Agassi's lawyer and representative, said: "We're excited about the deal. Head has been a great company with which to work. ... It was really nice that we were able to work out a deal that goes into Andre's retirement."

    — Langdon Brockinton

    Print | Tags: Head USA, Marketing and Sponsorship, Tennis
  • Apple polishes already sterling image with iPod commercials

    One of the most striking recent examples of entertainment looking to sports media to generate business is the remarkable work by Apple Computer on behalf of its iPod mobile music device. Featured in a wide range of sports and general-market media, Apple has launched a TV and print campaign for the iPod that represents the best of what advertising can be.

    Apple's tradition of using sports in its advertising is storied.

    The company launched its seminal Macintosh computer with "1984," a commercial aired just once, during the 1984 Super Bowl. That effort later was voted by members of the advertising industry as the greatest ad of all time. Thirteen years later, Apple featured "The Greatest," Muhammad Ali, in its graphically powerful "Think Different" campaign.

    The spots are simple, vibrant and potent.
    Flash forward to 2003: With a less intellectually inspiring but no less visceral campaign, Apple is again providing a lesson in how to create great advertising.

    The premise is simple. Young, hip (for lack of a better term) people dancing in black silhouette, in front of vibrant purple, green, red and gold screens. Their bodies are connected to their music by tiny white headphones and the now well-recognized rectangular white iPod device.

    The iPod, with its unique shape and ability to store thousands of songs in a device not much bigger than your average PDA, immediately became the industry's "in" device. But for months, Apple made it available to Mac users only, leaving it incompatible with the Windows operating systems that much of the computer world uses.

    Agency: TBWA\Chiat\Day, Los Angeles
    Creative directors: Duncan Millner, Eric Grunbaum
    Art director: Susan Alinsangan
    Copywriter: Tom Kraemer
    Director: Dave Meyers
    Client: Apple Computer, Cupertino, Calif.
    When Apple launched its critically acclaimed iTunes Store in May, the problem of being limited to the Mac world was again in full display. Millions of songs were legally downloaded, but Apple continued to fight the numbers game of relatively few Mac users in a Windows world.

    Finally, in September, Apple launched a Windows-ready version of software for iTunes. So, for Apple, that simple message had to find its way into the public consciousness.

    Apple's answer to that challenge is captured in the new advertising spots in the body copy, which is presented in reverse type over colored graphic screens embedded within the TV commercials, without voice-over: "iPod. Mac or PC."

    The spots conclude with the familiar Apple logo. So straightforward. So right.

    Dave Meyers, perhaps the best-of-breed working in music videos, directed the TV work. Meyers took home the top prize at the recent MTV Video Music Awards when the video he directed for Missy Elliott's "Work It" won Video of the Year.

    Meyers has also worked with Pink, Mick Jagger, Aerosmith, Creed and Shakira, among others. His understanding of music video, combined with great tunes from The Black Eyed Peas and Jet, lends these spots tremendous appeal and "street" credibility.

    With the potent combination of a great device, great software, Windows compatibility and stellar advertising, expect the iPod to rack up big holiday-season sales.

    James H. Harris (jharris@sportsbusinessjournal.com) is CEO of the Chicago-based strategic marketing consultancy ThoughtStep Inc.

    Print | Tags: Apple, Marketing and Sponsorship, MTV
  • Beijing organizers launch bid process for 5 big sponsor categories

    Five coveted sponsorship categories connected to the 2008 Olympic Games were formally opened to bidding last week by Beijing's Olympic organizing committee, the beginning of a process that is expected to result in record rights agreements by the middle of next year.

    The categories, for the 2005-2008 cycle, are those not covered by existing worldwide sponsorship deals through the International Olympic Committee. Controlled by the Beijing organization known as BOCOG, the categories are automotive, banking, petroleum, local telecommunications and wireless telecommunications service providers.

    "This is their call to arms," said Rob Prazmark, president of Olympic sales and marketing at IMG, which represents seven corporations exploring Beijing sponsorship options.

    While members of the IOC's club of global sponsors are committing around $65 million each in rights fees for the four years leading to 2008, several BOCOG categories are projected to lure rights deals well above $80 million — and approaching $100 million — because of the vast potential of China's exploding economy. National Olympic sponsor rights historically have never exceeded worldwide rights.

    "Simply stated, what is on the line [for Beijing Games sponsors] is brand loyalty for the next decade, at least, among 1.3 billion people," Prazmark said. "What is that worth?"

    MOUNTAIN ALERT: While marketers are mainly focused on the 2004 Athens Games only nine months off, the countdown clocks in Turin, Italy, are starting to hum with a little more than two years to the 2006 Winter Games.

    Venue operations managing director Emilio Pozzi, in a telephone interview from the Turin '06 Italian Alps headquarters, said the organization is not going to flirt with deadlines by carrying out prolonged negotiations with facility construction and service providers. "We are going to be closing the [contract bidding] one and a half years out [in summer 2005]," Pozzi said. "Not like Athens."

    Turin's venue development budget accounts for about $200 million of the $1.15 billion price tag to stage the Games, and "we are within a 10 percent margin of error on that budget," he said.

    Pozzi is a veteran of recent big events, having worked in operational capacities connected to the 1994 World Cup and the 1996 Atlanta Games in the United States. His current challenge is a global search for qualified facility managers for the Turin Games. Ten of these positions will be filled in the next few months.

    RING TOSSES: With NBC doing the IOC the favor last summer of extending its hold on the U.S. television rights to the Olympic Games through 2012, the IOC can begin courting smaller but still lucrative rights deals. IOC marketing director Michael Payne and the organization's Finance Committee chairman, Richard Carrion, were in Toronto recently to meet with five media outlets, including current rights holder CBC, regarding 2010 rights for the Vancouver-hosted Winter Games. Payne wouldn't predict how much of a rights increase the IOC might see. "That is something the market will dictate," he said. One published report in Toronto said the competition for rights to Games on Canadian soil might push fees from the $20.9 million CBC paid for 2006 rights toward a number closer to $60 million in 2010. Meanwhile, Payne said it's too early to know whether post-2008 European Olympic TV rights will be bid out among individual nations or kept under a European Broadcasting Union umbrella. With years, not months, on its side, "it gives us the advantage," Payne said, "to meet all the players, explore options and see what makes sense." ... As reported by this publication, Oroweat is the official bread supplier for U.S. Olympic training centers in 2004. In making that official last week, Oroweat executives said a new Web site would be launched to promote the affiliation.

    Steve Woodward can be reached at swoodward@sportsbusinessjournal.com.

    Print | Tags: IMG, IOC, Marketing and Sponsorship, NBC, Olympics
  • Bribe trial notes USOC sponsor’s $130K donation

    U.S. Olympic team sponsor Jet Set Sports, an Olympic hospitality and ticket packager, quickly fell into the spotlight amid opening statements by the prosecution as the federal trial of Salt Lake Olympic bid executives Tom Welch and David Johnson began. The two are charged with 15 counts of bribery and racketeering stemming from their mid-1990s campaign to bring the Games to Utah.

    Jet Set founder Sead Dizdarevic declined a request by this publication to explain why his company contributed $130,000 — an amount specified in court by federal prosecutor John Scott — to the bid effort in 1994 and '95. A Dizdarevic assistant, replying by e-mail, wrote: "It is inappropriate for him to talk about it, the trial is in process."

    Dizdarevic was long ago granted government immunity for his testimony to the Justice Department. The case went to trial in Salt Lake City late last month after three years of legal maneuvering.

    Prosecutors will try to convince a jury that the money, never recorded in the bid's budget, was used as part of a stealth campaign to buy votes of International Olympic Committee members.

    For Jet Set, $130,000 was a modest investment that has yielded healthy returns. By 2000, Jet Set had become a U.S. sponsor and, as such, official hospitality packager of the 2002 Salt Lake Games. It has since extended its U.S. deal through 2012, and also has a separate deal with Greek officials as one of the sponsors of the Athens 2004 Games.

    Steve Woodward is a writer in Illinois.

    Print | Tags: IOC, Marketing and Sponsorship, Olympics, USOC
  • Citi in one-year deal to present the Rose Bowl

    Citi, the consumer brand of Citigroup, has signed a one-year deal to be presenting sponsor of the Rose Bowl. The company, which is the world's largest financial services firm, has the option of extending the deal through 2006, when the Rose Bowl will host the national championship game.

    Poised to launch a new advertising campaign, Citi will spend more than $10 million on advertising on ABC Sports and ESPN as part of the agreement, a source said.

    The deal includes advertising in all Bowl Championship Series games, along with inventory in "Monday Night Football" and NBA coverage.

    ABC Sports officials have said the BCS is close to sold out, and that college football has been the best-performing category this year for ABC Sports and ESPN.

    The Rose Bowl sponsorship has been sold well into the fall for the last two years, with Sony PlayStation doing a one-year deal for the 2003 game. Prior to that, AT&T was the Rose Bowl's presenting sponsor.

    PlayStation sponsored several events tied to the Rose Bowl and the Tournament of Roses parade last year. Tournament of Roses marketing director Wendy Matthes said she hoped Citi would do the same, but that it had not yet been determined.

    Citigroup officials did not return phone calls.

    Print | Tags: ABC, Colleges, ESPN, Football, Marketing and Sponsorship, NCAA
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