How distribution could work A different kind of labor leader UFC plans new digital net The Sit-Down: Dave Brandon Coors Light passes Bud for the lead In MLB's licensing spotlight Fox will sell for L.A. Coliseum ATP adding Michelob Ultra to U.S. nets Powdr buys ‘World of Adventure Sports’ From the Executive Editor
SBJ/Jan. 24-30, 2011/Marketing and SponsorshipPrint All
Energizer plans to light up the night around Charlotte Motor Speedway with a special fan promotion at NASCAR’s 2011 Sprint All-Star Race.
The battery brand will provide every fan who enters the race a small, Energizer-powered flashlight. Prior to the race, the speedway will turn off its lights, and fans will turn on their Energizer flashlights, jump-starting the promotion, called “Light up the Night.” The race typically draws more than 100,000 spectators.
The promotion is part of a one-race agreement. Terms of the deal were not available.
The partnership with Charlotte Motor Speedway is an outgrowth of Energizer’s relationship with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Energizer has done paint schemes in the past as part of the Target program with Ganassi.
“It’s important that sponsors who have been affiliated with a team continue to see the value of NASCAR fans and invest in different NASCAR platforms,” said Ganassi Racing President Steve Lauletta. “This is a great example of that.”
In other NASCAR-related sponsorship news, Ganassi Racing is bringing two new sponsors into the sport for the 2011 Sprint Cup season.
The team is expected to announce today the addition of LiftMaster as an associate sponsor and Widia as a one-race primary sponsor. Both deals are for the No. 1 car driven by Jamie McMurray.
LiftMaster makes residential car door openers and commercial door operators. It has no history in NASCAR. It will receive exposure on the No. 1 car, have rights to feature the car and driver in advertising, and be entitled to some appearances by McMurray.
“We’ll piggyback on his success and use him in a lot of our consumer advertising,” said Paul Accardo, manager of advertising and PR at The Chamberlain Group, which owns LiftMaster.
Widia, a new brand developed by the tooling company Kennametal, will be the primary sponsor on the No. 1 car for the April 3 Sprint Cup race in Martinsville, Va.
A year after sampling IndyCar with a one-race sponsorship, integrated energy company Entergy has signed a three-year agreement with HVM Racing.
Simona De Silvestro will drive the car with the Entergy logo for HVM Racing.
Entergy, which has a market capitalization of $13.2 billion, is primarily focused on nuclear power. It sells electricity in Arkansas, Mississippi, Texas and Louisiana, and it operates 12 nuclear facilities including plants in Massachusetts, Michigan, New York and Vermont.
The company plans to use its relationship with HVM and De Silvestro to raise awareness about the clean-air benefits of nuclear power. It will bring show cars to college campuses with strong engineering programs and use it to spark conversation with students about nuclear energy in hopes some go on to specialize in nuclear engineering or want to apply their specialization in mechanical, chemistry or other engineering specialities in jobs at nuclear plants.
Many engineers at nuclear plants are reaching retirement age, and the industry expects there to be new licenses to be provided for additional nuclear plants in the future. Entergy officials anticipate the combination will create a need for new engineers at its plants.
Kelle Barfield, Entergy director of nuclear communications, said that three years ago the company took its Atlantic series show car to Purdue University, a top engineering school, where approximately 40 engineering majors wound up declaring nuclear as their specialty.
“You can’t say directly that they wound up making their decision based on the car, but it did get the conversation started,” Barfield said. “Off-track, it’s an incredible tool for recruiting.”
HVM owner Keith Wiggins said the team planned to visit several universities and schools during the 2011 IndyCar season.
Entergy replaces Stargate World as the sponsor of HVM’s No. 78 car.
The three-year deal gives the team long-term sponsorship stability, which will allow it to develop a strong marketing program that delivers results over time, Wiggins said.
USA Gymnastics has signed a two-year agreement with Hilton Hotels, giving the national governing body its first hotel partner in more than 12 years.
The deal, expected to be announced this week, will see Hilton provide financial support to the men’s gymnastics team and amenity upgrades to the USA Gymnastics training center at the Karolyi Ranch in Texas. The hotelier will receive intellectual property rights, branding on the men’s uniforms during domestic competitions and signage at Karolyi Ranch.
Hilton sponsored eight NGBs before and during the 2006 Torino Games and sponsored USA Swimming, USA Cycling and other summer NGBs before and during the 2008 Beijing Games.
Top-tier NGB sponsorships typically are valued in the mid- to high six figures a year.
“The demographic profile of the sport and fact that they have over 100,000 members … is a nice fit for some of our different branded hotels,” said Jeff Diskin, Hilton’s senior vice president of brand management and marketing.”
Hilton’s agreement will see it pay dollars that go directly to the athletes. In return, it will have the right to feature those athletes in promotions and have its Hilton Honors logo on their uniforms during domestic competitions.
“I’m not aware of anything like this in the Olympic movement,” USA Gymnastics President Steve Penny said.
The Marketing Arm works on Hilton’s Olympic business and assisted with the USA Gymnastics deal.
The news for a business already on the rebound is all good. It’s the enviable choice between two teams with well-established national footprints in the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers, along with two large-market teams in the Chicago Bears and New York Jets, both without a championship in a generation. Any combination presented a happy choice for licensees, regardless of which teams qualify for the Super Bowl.
“They are all great matchups for business, but Bears over Jets is probably the best matchup for sales. But even though they are in New York, I don’t think the Jets would be quite as big as some people think,” said Eddie Miller of ’47 Brand, expressing what seemed to be the consensus of the licensing cognoscenti in Vegas. Others recalled that when the Bears won the Super Bowl in 1986 with an 18-1 record, their sales momentum ended when the space shuttle Challenger disaster happened two days after the Super Bowl victory.
Mindful that Green Bay’s Super Bowl win in 1997 established an all-time sales mark, there was even some talk of achieving a record for Super Bowl hot-market numbers this year.
There was also, however, a dichotomy between ebullience and reality that was tough to ignore. The next gathering of NFL licensees is set for just after the CBA expires March 3, so it could be the most morose collection of licensees ever assembled. Even so, there was a fair amount of hope expressed on the show floor.
WinCraft President John Killen offered dual optimism — given the heady choice of possible Super Bowl competitors, he predicted a new high in Super Bowl hot-market sales for his company. He also sang an optimistic tune on the labor front.
“We’re assuming there will be some disruption, but I don’t see them missing [regular-season] games,” he said, recalling that it took his company’s MLB sales years to recover after the 1994 strike, which forced the cancellation of the MLB postseason. “They’ve got to figure it out. There is just too much at stake.”
“I am still assuming the worst is not going to happen,” said Charles Sizemore, founder and CEO of The Memory Company, showing an expanded collection of ceramics, glassware and other home products.
Whether all that optimism was based on anything, aside from the hope and faith that are endemic to sports and any business as sales-driven as licensing, is an interesting question.
Some wondered about having to pay their sizable NFL licensing guarantees during a time when the only news about the NFL may be CBA related. “A long labor stoppage would knock out at least 10 licensees on this floor, and remember that the sell-in for the fall football season is in the spring, when a lot of the back-and-forth will be starting,” said Adam Pennington, owner and CEO of watch licensee Game Time.
Many suggested college football stood to gain the most if the NFL loses games.
“If the NFL isn’t playing, college football will be the biggest beneficiary, and we are also looking at entertainment and other nonsports,” said Ralph Gabriel, director of merchandising at Great American Products.
“Everybody on this floor is hoping they [the NFL and NFLPA] get it together,” said Dave Kirkpatrick, vice president of non-apparel marketing at CLC. “If it were to go bad, some retailers have told us they will look to college to offset their [NFL] losses.”
Still, considering it is generally the same person making licensed-product buying decisions for retailers, the fear of an NFL work stoppage bled well beyond those who would be most directly affected.
“People have told me that [an NFL work stoppage] would be an opportunity for us, but I see it as a loss across the business,” said Dave McCarthy, NHL vice president of integrated marketing. “A rising tide lifts all boats, and in this case I’m afraid the opposite would definitely also be true.”
Pillow Pets, which scored during the holidays, are entering the college ranks.
Spirit Fingerz give wearers 10 little pompoms to wave for their favorite pro or college teams.
Annie Fink Designs is offering collegiate-licensed Spirit Sleeves, a fingerless glove/arm warmer that retails for about $18. KE Specialties made a fingertip grab of the prize for new NFL women's licensed product.
WinCraft also is developing a licensed version of Isotoner smarTouch gloves, which allow the use of BlackBerry and iPhones for wearers.
• AWARDS SHOW: KE Specialties’ team-colored nail polish was named the NFL’s top new women’s licensed product of the year, an award the NFL launched last year to stimulate more innovation in that category. A two-bottle set retails for about $13. “The price was right and clearly we filled a need,” said owner Stuart Pollak, who won Super Bowl tickets based on the product’s initial success. Meanwhile, the Utah Jazz was named the NBA’s Team Retailer of the Year, while Majestic Athletic and WinCraft were named that league’s apparel and non-apparel licensees of the year, respectively, at the NBA’s recent Team Retail Summit.
Terry Lefton can be reached at email@example.com.
NFL Alumni has hired marketing firm 16W to sell sponsorships and create a licensing program for the group’s thousands of retired NFL players.
The NFL Players Association also offers marketing services to retired players, but Frank Vuono, a partner at 16W, disagreed with any suggestion of a conflict. The group licensing agreements that retired players might sign with the NFLPA as well as future ones with 16W would both be non-exclusive.
Vuono already has one deal under his belt for NFL Alumni. Allstate is sponsoring the group’s awards ceremony during Super Bowl week in Dallas.
NFL Alumni was created in 2009 through a merger of NFL Alumni Inc., a charity that long received league funding, and retired players group Fourth and Goal. The group has since been viewed as a competitor to the NFLPA in laying claim to representing retired players.
NFL Alumni has the benefit of having the rights through the NFL to use team marks and logos in tandem with retired players.
George Martin, NFL Alumni’s executive director, said of the NFLPA’s commercial ties with retired players, “If there is an existing relationship, it is ineffectual at best.”
The NFLPA did not respond for comment.
In 2008, a class of retired players successfully sued the union for failing to properly market them. The union appealed, and while the case was on appeal in 2009, Executive Director DeMaurice Smith settled the case for $26.25 million.
Smith, who was hired in 2009, has expressed a desire for the union to act as the voice for retired players as well as active players.
A vibrant marketplace exists for retired NFL players, Martin said, even though at trial in 2008, the NFLPA’s former head of its marketing unit, Doug Allen, contended he could not find companies eager to use the players.
This is not Vuono’s first go around in this area. Working previously as an executive at NFL Properties, he led what was called the Quarterback Club in the 1990s, a venture that competed with the union for the rights to market players, both retired and active. By the end of the decade, the NFL agreed to cede that territory to the union.
As for licensing retired players, Vuono must first convince NFL Alumni’s membership to sign agreements with 16W to allow the agency to represent them. The agency already has several retired players as broadcaster clients, including Howie Long and Phil Simms.
The U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association has signed a multiyear marketing partnership with The North Face that will make the outdoor brand the face of USSA’s new freeski program.
The deal is expected to be announced this week, when USSA unveils a new division, U.S. Freeski, at the SnowSports Industries America trade show in Denver.
The U.S. Freeski division will operate independently the same way U.S. Snowboarding and the U.S. Ski Team do, and The North Face will be its uniform supplier. Burton and Spyder currently outfit the snowboard and ski teams, respectively.
Sources valued the eight-year agreement with The North Face at approximately $6.5 million.
Many in the Olympic sports industry expect the International Olympic Committee to add ski halfpipe and slopestyle competition for the 2014 Sochi Games. The North Face has ramped up its spending in the freeski industry in anticipation, also signing its first full ski park and pipe team and multiple ski park and pipe events.
“They are so excited and focused on this that before [freeskiing joins the Olympics], they are willing to make that level of commitment,” said Andrew Judelson, USSA’s chief revenue and marketing officer.
USSA plans to sell other sponsorship packages in the same way that it does for its ski and snowboard teams, Judelson said. USSA sponsors will have to make an incremental investment to use the team’s marks and intellectual property rights.
Subway’s appetite for Olympians continues to grow.
The sandwich chain has signed an endorsement deal with Olympic speedskater Apolo Anton Ohno. The deal puts America’s most-decorated Winter Olympian alongside swimmer Michael Phelps and gymnast Nastia Liukin on Subway’s team of Olympic athletes.
Ohno has already shot a commercial for the sandwich chain.
Subway officials were attracted to Ohno because he was once overweight and subsequently slimmed down, which made him a good fit with their lead spokesman, Jared Fogle. They also liked the fact that he had moved to Los Angeles and had some entertainment aspirations.
“It just seemed like a really good fit for us on a number of fronts,” said Paul Bamundo, Subway’s director of sports marketing. “We thought that with Phelps, it was nice to have the most decorated Summer and Winter Olympians.”
If the partnership with Ohno extends through the 2012 London Games, it will open the door for Subway to use Ohno much the same way they used Phelps during the 2010 Vancouver Games.
Subway featured Phelps in a controversial spot that ran on NBC in 2010. The spot showed Phelps swimming across land toward Vancouver “where the action [was that] winter.” Because Phelps is a summer Olympian, Subway could use him in the ad during the Winter Games without violating International Olympic Committee rules that prevent non-Olympic sponsors from developing ads that show competing Olympic athletes before or during an Olympic Games. The same would hold true with Ohno during the London Games.
If Subway pursued that strategy, it would create a headache for the IOC and U.S. Olympic Committee. The 2010 spot with Phelps irked the IOC’s and USOC’s official restaurant partner, McDonald’s, which pushed both Olympic organizations to wage a public relations campaign against ambush marketing.
“While I don’t support ambush marketing as a strategy, one could certainly say the Phelps campaign got people talking about Subway,” said Gary Pluchino, IMG Consulting’s senior vice president, Olympics. “If they decide to use Apolo the same way they used Michael Phelps, then one could assume the Phelps campaign met Subway’s objectives.”
But Subway executives don’t plan to wait until next summer to use Ohno. The company already shot a commercial with the speedskater in California and plans to release the spot sometime in the next two quarters. “They have great plans, and that’s the great thing about Subway is they activate so well,” said Peter Carlisle, head of Octagon’s Olympic division, which represents both Ohno and Phelps.
Ohno, 28, hasn’t said if he will participate in the Sochi Games in 2014. Bamundo said that if Ohno decided not to compete it wouldn’t affect Subway’s plans to use him.
“I look at it as kind of like the [Michael] Strahan situation for us, where he got bigger and transcended [football] after his NFL career,” Bamundo said.
The organizers of the Ryder Cup have always had their own way of doing things, down to the different logos they use on each side of the Atlantic. But the big pond is about to get a little smaller, figuratively speaking.
“We’ve had sponsors on both sides promoting their affiliation with the event with two different marks,” said Joe Steranka, CEO of the PGA of America. “It didn’t make sense.”
In the past, the European and U.S. sides have used separate logos to represent the biennial golf event, which has led to some confusion among corporate partners. The different logos were the result of the fragmented ownership of the matches. The PGA of America is in charge of the Ryder Cup when it’s played in the U.S., while the European Tour and the PGAs of Great Britain and Ireland run the events on European soil.
Bringing the branding under one unified shield represents a landmark change for the event that started in 1927, and whose caretakers from Europe and the U.S. have always kept their commercial operations separate.
That occasionally leads to category conflict at the Ryder Cup, such as when Mercedes-Benz and BMW were both involved in 2010 at Celtic Manor.
Richard Hills, director of Ryder Cup Europe, compared the move to a unified brand to 1979, when the Great Britain and Ireland team expanded to include players from all of Europe.
“This is a significant juncture for us,” Hills said. “We have a number of companies that express an interest in being involved with the matches and some, like Rolex, that are common partners. For something like the Ryder Cup to have two different marks was difficult to explain. The logical progression of unifying the brand is that we’ll jointly be talking to companies about the matches. We’re not there yet, but certainly this gives us a platform to start.”
It was in January 2009 that the U.S. side and European side gathered for their standard meetings at the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando. The two sides had already agreed on one joint effort — to have Turner Sports run the official Ryder Cup website for both sides. The next logical extension of their joint efforts, they agreed, was to come up with a single logo and branding plan.
“Fragmentation is the enemy of brand building,” said Ed O’Hara, senior partner and chief creative officer at SME Branding. “It’s smart to unify that.”
Three agencies presented their plan to Cup officials, and Interbrand, a branding specialist led by President David Martin, was selected. After researching the Ryder Cup, Martin presented his plan to unify the brand to match officials on a Thursday night at the 2010 Masters.
Leaders from both sides retired to the PGA’s rented 4,000-square-foot, two-story brick home in West Lake, a gated golf course community in Augusta, Ga. In the family room, Martin talked about a fresh look within a shield that would feature the cup itself while also maintaining the heritage of the event. An Interbrand team of five worked full time on the project over about 18 months.
“It’s a more contemporary mark that will hold up well in digital applications, that’s easy to knit into merchandise and will work in traditional print and signage,” Martin said. “There’s a real authenticity to it.”
It remains to be seen if and when the two sides might start working together on corporate partner programs and other commercial initiatives. They’re so different because of their makeup.
When the PGA of America runs the Ryder Cup in the U.S., it tends to be less commercialized with fewer sponsors activating on-site and on signage. The PGA doesn’t sell official event sponsorships, but instead allows its highest level of sponsors — RBC, American Express, Mercedes-Benz — to call themselves proud supporters. The U.S. players give up their commercial endorsements for a week, so the PGA reasons that it shouldn’t exploit the event.
In Europe, the team is run by the European Tour and the PGAs of Great Britain and Ireland. Because the European Tour holds a financial stake in the event when it’s the home team, the players are essentially financial partners.
The European side does sell official partnerships to the event and allows for more on-site activation. BMW, KPMG, Emirates Airline, Citi and Rolex were among the official partners of the 2010 Ryder Cup.
The PGA of America will unveil its new logo this week for the Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid.
The four-year presenting sponsorship, which begins this season, represents KitchenAid’s first effort in sports marketing, said Deb O’Connor, the company’s senior manager of brand experience.
One of the main attractions for KitchenAid was that two of the tournaments in the four-year contract (2012 and 2014) will be played in Benton Harbor, Mich., where KitchenAid has its headquarters. This May’s event will be at Valhalla in Louisville, Ky.
The sponsorship includes ad units on Golf Channel and NBC, the tournament’s broadcasters.
ESPN's sales team points to its robust and diverse list of X Games sponsors as evidence that its strategy of customizing sales packages is working.
Winter X Games 15, which begins Thursday in Aspen, Colo., will feature 25 partners across five categories. A year ago, it had 17 partners across two categories. Two years ago, it had 10 sponsors across three categories known as gold, silver and bronze.
Winter X 15 Sponsors
• U.S. Navy BF
• The North Face
• State Farm
• Sony Video Games
• Samsung Mobile
• Burton Apple
Source: X Games
"We're very happy with the traction we've been able to get in the marketplace, considering the shift in overall sponsor packages and our approach to event sponsorships," said Chris Stiepock, X Games vice president of content and sponsorship development. "This list shows that we've been able to listen to sponsors and tailor packages more in line with their preferences."
ESPN developed five categories for this year's X Games: official partners, multimedia sponsors, TV-only sponsors, digital-only sponsors and sponsors.
Official partners get rights to the X Games marks, on-site activation, on-site signage, and a fully integrated media buy across ESPN's TV, digital, print and radio platforms. Multimedia sponsors will receive on-site signage and activation rights and TV and digital advertising.
The TV- and digital-only partners will receive no on-site rights, while X Games sponsors will receive exclusively on-site rights and no media exposure.
ESPN sold out of its suite inventory at the base of the superpipe, where it has six suites, and sold enough guest passes to its VIP room to be at capacity. ESPN developed both the suite and hospitality programs in the last two years as a way to drive additional revenue around the event.
"We recognize that our event is a good place to do business even if you're not a sponsor," Stiepock said.