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CAA Sports has sent the signal that it will become more deeply involved in golf with the hiring of former U.S. Golf Association executive Pete Bevacqua.
Pete Bevacqua spent more than 10 years at the USGA, eventually running the U.S. Open.
CAA’s move into golf so far has been marked by high-profile signings like Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman and Tom Watson, but the agency has moved into the event business as well. The Mission Hills Star Trophy pro-am in China, which debuted last fall, brought actors Hugh Grant and Matthew McConaughey together with Norman and other pros to compete for a $1.28 million check.
CAA also represents Royal Bank of Scotland on corporate consulting in golf.
“Event management was certainly a big part of what I did at the USGA,” said Bevacqua, the former chief business officer at the USGA who started with CAA last week. “There also was a big corporate consulting element to what I did with the USGA’s partners, and I look forward to working across all of those areas.”
Bevacqua spent more than 10 years at the USGA, joining the organization as in-house counsel and eventually running the U.S. Open and overseeing the commercial side of the business. He left in March to seek other opportunities but always preferred to stay in golf, he said.
Bevacqua will work out of CAA’s New York office.
Even though Rielly and Pierce have been known for athlete representation, they will work with Bevacqua across all of CAA’s work in golf, the agency said. Like the China-based Mission Hills event, Bevacqua sees many of those future opportunities coming overseas.
“The future of golf is international,” he said. “There will always be a critical need here for the majors and the PGA Tour, but the growth of the game is going to be internationally based.”
Cory Moss, in his 17th year at Collegiate Licensing Co., is moving into the top spot at CLC in the aftermath of departures by key senior executives Pat Battle and Derek Eiler.
Battle, who helped build CLC into the industry leader in college licensing and later led IMG’s growth into the college space, left earlier this year. Former COO Eiler remains with CLC parent company IMG College but is not working in the licensing division.
Moss, formerly the senior vice president of operations and properties at CLC, will now be senior vice president and managing director. He will report to Mark Dyer, who directs all of IMG College’s business outside of its multimedia rights.
Dyer previously oversaw ticketing, seat solutions, events and hospitality and, with this latest round of change, will now add licensing. Dyer, the former vice president of licensing at NASCAR and CEO at Motorsports Authentics, a licensing company in motorsports, has extensive brand and merchandise experience.
Under Moss’ direction, CLC will seek more new business opportunities in categories, licensees and distribution channels.
“My message is that we shouldn’t settle for the way things have always been,” said Moss, a graduate of Hampton University who joined CLC in 1995. “Let’s make sure our clients are partnered with the right companies, the best-in-class licensees. That might mean one company or multiple companies in each category, or maybe the best company is not even doing college product.”
To accommodate a focus on new business, Scott Bouyack will become senior vice president for brand and business development, a title that has not existed before. About four or five employees who previously have been in marketing will move into business development, and Moss said he expects to make another four to five hires initially.
Over the next year, he anticipates CLC growing from 86 employees to about 95.
“We have to continue to increase our sales for our schools, conferences and bowls,” said Moss, whose father worked as an athletic director at North Carolina A&T and Georgia State before retiring. “We’ve got to position ourselves for where this market is evolving and that means new categories, new channels, bigger brands getting involved in college sports.”
IMG College President Ben Sutton said CLC’s profits have been solid, “The growth has been stable, predictable, but I’d like for it to be 40 percent, 50 percent better.”
CLC also will announce that John Greeley will be senior vice president for properties and Catherine Singer will be senior vice president for operations.
Sutton said that CLC founder Bill Battle remains involved and was a key consultant on the reorganization of leadership.
Olympic gold medalist and action sports star Shaun White and Red Bull haven’t come to terms on a renewal of their three-year relationship, opening the door for one of the nation’s most recognizable athletes to sign with a new beverage partner.
Top Athlete Endorsers
The Davie-Brown Index endorsement score ranks the degree to which consumers identify an athlete as being an effective product
RANK ATHLETE ENDORSEMENT SCORE 1 Lindsey Vonn 76.73 2 Michael Jordan 75.81 3 Phil Mickelson 75.47 4 Peyton Manning 75.08 5 Aaron Rodgers 74.76 6 Drew Brees 74.24 7 Shaun White 74.24 8 Mario Lemieux 73.31 9 Gretchen Bleiler 73.25 10 Joe Mauer 71.75
Note: Among the more than 2,800 celebrities in the DBI database, White ranks in the top 30, ahead of Jennifer Aniston, Katy Perry and George Clooney, and just behind Brees, the late Paul Newman and Rodgers. Consumers also consider him to be a trendsetter. His score in the DBI's Trendsetter attribute puts him in the top 20 in the DBI database, alongside Tina Fey, Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp. No other athlete ranks in the top 35.
Source: The Marketing Arm
White’s deal with Red Bull, valued at more than $1 million a year, ended after the Winter X Games in January, according to sources. Since then, his team of agents at CAA has been pitching beverage companies on an endorsement deal worth more than $3 million a year. They have discussed a renewal with Red Bull, approached Coca-Cola and talked to Pepsi about a deal with its Mountain Dew or Gatorade brands, but haven’t signed anything to date.
Sources said brands are objecting to the pricing of the youth marketing magnet and demands for creative authority and control over any content created.
“There are creative demands … and they only want to give you two or three days of his time,” said one marketer who had been in talks with White’s representatives at CAA. “I wouldn’t do that deal in an Olympic year, and this isn’t an Olympic year.”
Representatives for White could not be reached for comment.
Though White’s services are being shopped to the world’s biggest soft drink companies, Red Bull’s U.S. sports marketing chief Chris Mater said his company’s partnership with the snowboarder could be rekindled.
“We’re still in discussions for him to stay with Red Bull,” Mater said. “He’s been a great face for our brand.”
The more than $3 million price tag that CAA has placed on a future beverage partnership with White is reflective of the Olympian’s growing fame. In 2010, White had the highest Sports Q Score among active athletes. His score was second only to Michael Jordan and ranked ahead of Peyton Manning, Joe Montana and Arnold Palmer, underscoring the appeal and likability he’s earned as an elite snowboarder and the value he delivers to mainstream brands he endorses, such as Target and BFGoodrich. Similarly, the Davie-Brown Index puts him in the top 10 among athletes in the endorsement category, which reflects the degree to which consumers identify a celebrity as an effective spokesperson.
Red Bull built a branded superpipe in the Rocky Mountains where White could train for the 2010 Olympics and posted video online. One marketer called it an “incredibly organic activation piece.”
Their three-year partnership resulted in one of the most imaginative marketing stunts of 2009. The energy drink company built a backcountry superpipe in the Rocky Mountains accessible only by helicopter. They called the effort Red Bull Project X and flew White into the superpipe to train for the 2010 Olympics so that he could practice new tricks there without being seen by any of his competitors. The pipe had Red Bull logos and a Red Bull-branded foam pit, and the company posted video of White training there online. CBS even taped a “60 Minutes” segment on White there before the Olympics. Footage from the pipe has been viewed 2.5 million times on YouTube.
“That was an incredibly organic activation piece that shows how Red Bull supports their athletes, and it put Shaun in a different light, giving him a coolness factor of having something no other athlete had,” said Bob Walker, president of Connexions Sports & Entertainment, an action sports agency that works with freestyle motocross star Brian Deegan. “You can’t put a value on the media value of that.”
White’s next big competition is the Dew Tour Pantech Open in Ocean City, Md., July 21-24. He then will compete in skateboard vert at the Summer X Games. Though he hasn’t committed to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, he is expected to compete there for his third consecutive gold medal in snowboard halfpipe.
White, 24, is one of the few action sports athletes who provides partners with year-round exposure. He is a two-time Olympic gold medalist in snowboard halfpipe and an accomplished skateboarder who won an X Games gold medal in vert in 2007. But even with his year-round visibility and success, a $3 million to $6 million deal will be tough to sell.
“I don’t see any brand paying that type of money for him during these economic times,” Walker said, “but if anyone can get it, Shaun can because of the Olympic program.”
Pepsi and Coca-Cola have a history in action sports. Pepsi’s Mountain Dew brand sponsors the NBC- and MTV-owned Dew Tour and has a history of sponsoring athletes ranging from snowboarder Hannah Teter to skater Paul Rodriguez. Coca-Cola signed Olympic snowboarders Ross Powers, Danny Kass and J.J. Thomas in 2002 for a campaign supporting their Nestea brand. Coke could use White across a portfolio of brands ranging from Glacéau to Powerade to Sprite.
Other possible fits would be the energy drinks Rockstar, an independently owned beverage distributed by Frucor Beverages, and Monster Energy, a Hansen Natural-owned beverage distributed by Coke. Another proposal being floated is exchanging White’s services for an equity stake in a startup beverage brand, sources familiar with the proposals said.
White left his longtime agent, Mark Ervin, and IMG a year ago. Since signing with CAA, he has signed deals with BFGoodrich Tires and Stride. His other sponsors are Burton, Target, Oakley, Ubisoft and Park City Mountain Resort.
Schick signed a deal with Martin Truex Jr. and plans to do product samplings at a handful of tracks.
The Energizer Holdings razor brand has signed a deal with Martin Truex Jr. and will put its decal on Michael Waltrip Racing’s No. 56 car for as many as 10 races, according to sources familiar with the agreement. It also plans to do product sampling in the coming months at a handful of tracks owned by International Speedway Corp. and Speedway Motorsports Inc.
Terms of the agreements were not available. Schick, whose Canadian division signed on to sponsor Canadian-born Nationwide Series driver J.R. Fitzpatrick two years ago, is expected to announce the U.S. sponsorships and promotions at Michigan International Speedway, which hosts a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race June 19.
The deals move Schick into a territory that’s been dominated over the years by Gillette. The Procter & Gamble razor company has been an official partner of NASCAR since 2003 and promoted its sponsorship by signing young NASCAR drivers and developing a “Young Guns” campaign around them.
Schick’s move into NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series this summer puts the two biggest razor brands on the same motorsports turf. Gillette enjoys a much larger market share in the razor category. Its share is 82 percent in replacement blades category and 60 percent in razors, while Energizer’s share is 14 percent in blades and 35 percent in razors, according to Nielsen data. Schick’s percentage of the razor market increased 12 percent over the last year.
The deal with Truex and Michael Waltrip Racing gives Schick ties to a driver and race team for promotions and marketing. The 30-year-old driver is 21st in the Sprint Cup standings. His best finish this year was sixth at the Kobalt Tools 400 in Las Vegas.
Schick plans to supplement that deal with sampling at the track. It is in conversations with ISC about sampling at a minimum of two tracks, and SMI to sample at Kentucky Speedway and New Hampshire Motor Speedway. At Kentucky and New Hampshire, it is considering including samples in registration packets at campgrounds and setting up an entertainment area with music and games before the races on July 9 and 17, respectively.
Schick works with Amplitude Marketing Group, a Connecticut-based agency, on its activation and promotion in sports and entertainment.
“It’s really slow,” said a marketer at an agency that represents more than five NFL starting quarterbacks when asked about the state of the NFL athlete endorsement market. “We’re hoping for a settlement but preparing for the worst. It is completely frozen on this side, with the exception of a few trading-card deals. The shoe and apparel deals had already come down, but a lot of those companies are waiting, too.”
A marketer at an agency with NFL sponsors as clients described the situation as “hurry up and wait.” “We are looking at [story] boards, we are looking at players, but everything is very stop and go,” the marketer said.
Non-NFL sponsors that have invested in players to gain leverage without having to pay those pricey NFL rights fees are in even more of a quandary.
“If you don’t think there is going to be football on Sundays, do you want to pay an endorsement fee, pay for a production day with an athlete, and make a media buy?” asked a talent marketer who cuts off-the-field deals for some of the NFL’s highest-profile QBs, adding that there has been a notable dropoff in appearances and media tours for NFL athletes this offseason because of the negatives associated with the lockout. “It’s a negative situation, so sponsors don’t want to be part of it. And what scares me is that right behind the NFL will be an NBA lockout with the same effect.”
Saints QB Drew Brees and son Baylen, who joined his MVP dad on the field after Super Bowl XLIV, will appear in ads for Vicks DayQuil and NyQuil cold medicines.
In addition, an NFL coach has been added to the campaign this season. Chicago’s Lovie Smith will make his first national appearance on behalf of a brand, not including when he wears Reebok’s NFL togs on game days. We’re also told that Calgary Flames all-time leading scorer Jerome Iginla will appear in the campaign, but those spots will only be seen in Canada.
Chris Stuart of Carlsbad, Calif.-based Encore Sports & Entertainment, reps Brees. Smith is represented by Chicago attorney Andrew Stroth and Matthew Smith, Lovie’s son, who also helped negotiate a recent two-year contract extension for the coach.
Team Epic’s Riber Sports Marketing Group, Cincinnati, handled for P&G.
PATRICK E. MCCARTHY
Ray Bednar is back in the agency business at Hyperion Marketing Returns-Rockefeller Consulting.
Considering Bednar’s experience with sports and sponsorship, the practice will begin with those areas but not be limited to them. “We’ll move it from sports sponsorship and a portfolio ROI function to strategic recommendations, and marketing ROI in general, over time,” said Bednar, adding that he has two clients signed up, which he would not disclose.
The move puts Bednar back in the agency business; he was at WPP’s Prism from 2002 to 2006.
HORSING AROUND: Emirates Airline is back for its seventh year as a sponsor of the Breeders’ Cup. The two-year renewal as the Breeders’ Cup official commercial airline (Sentient has the private aviation category) sees the Dubai-based airline continue as title sponsor of the $2 million Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf Division, the $3 million Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Turf races, and presenting sponsor of Breeders’ Cup Challenge races on ESPN this summer and fall.
Emirates continues to expand its presence within horse racing. It also is a sponsor of the June 11 Belmont Stakes and has additional track sponsorships at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Fla.; Woodbine Race Course in Toronto; Lone Star Park near Dallas; Del Mar Race Track near San Diego; and Emerald Downs in Seattle.
“The Breeders’ Cup and thoroughbred racing in general continue to reach Emirates’ target of high-net-worth clients, so they continue to be one of our biggest commercial supporters and they continue to expand across the sport,” said Carter Carnegie, Breeders’ Cup senior vice president of sales.
Meanwhile, Breeders’ Cup officials this summer are expected to decide on where the event will be hosted in the future. Santa Anita Park near Los Angeles, Belmont near New York City and Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., host site for 2010 and 2011, are all possibilities.
Terry Lefton can be reached at email@example.com.
Sports apparel and footwear brand Under Armour has tabbed Omnicom Media Group’s Optimum Sports to plan and execute its media buying, along with some strategic and activation assignments. It marks the first time Under Armour, which passed $1 billion in revenue last year, has used an outside media agency.
Company insiders said it was a step fueled by the brand’s success under founder and CEO Kevin Plank.
“Kevin has us maniacally focused on our second, third and fourth billion, and beyond, as well as scaling for much bigger things, so this is a step in that direction,” said Steve Battista, Under Armour’s senior vice president of brand. “Optimum and [Managing Director] Tom McGovern know our industry and the sports media landscape well.”
Under Armour’s previous media planning and buying for its brand campaigns was handled in-house.
Optimum’s first assignment will be to fashion a media plan for a back-to-school campaign. Under Armour joins a roster at Optimum Sports including State Farm and Gatorade.
Sources said Optimum won an agency shootout that also included Interpublic Group’s Initiative Media.
Optimum prides itself on offering sports marketing advice beyond just media planning and buying, and Battista said the agency will help with sponsorship and retail activation.
“So much of the media plan is with partners, and we have launches with our big retail partners that have media components as well,” Battista said. “As we get more partners and more assets, media and nonmedia, we need to do a better job coordinating them all, and Optimum will help us there also.”
McGovern said, “We’ve spent a lot of time understanding the athlete as consumer, especially the high school athlete.
“Under Armour has a lot of assets, from Cal Ripken Baseball to the NFL, and we hope to create deeper engagements and find more and better ways to leverage them across social and traditional media.”
Like archrival Nike, Under Armour has a strong corporate culture. Also like Nike, that vibrant culture is insular enough that some outsiders find it difficult to contend with. The latest was Mark Dowley, who left in April after joining as executive vice president of brand and president of international in January.
“It’s like a family-run, publicly traded company,” said a marketer familiar with Under Armour’s inner workings. “Inside, they recognize now that outside advice and counsel would be helpful, but they also know that they have a culture worth preserving.”