What I Like: Nathan Lindberg NHL clubs try Spanish-language radio From The Executive Editor: NBA scores For the high-flying NBA, it’s all good Players in the esports space U.S. growth showing up on NHL rosters First Look podcast: All-Star Game, more NASC works on travel sports equation Will Twitter keep TNF? Labor & Agents: CAA seven
SBJ/June 20-26, 2011/Marketing and SponsorshipPrint All
Pepsi sports marketing chief Jeff Dubiel has resigned from the company after 13 years.
ALEX GORT PRODUCTIONS
Dubiel has headed Pepsi's sports marketing portfolio since November 2008.
“This was entirely a personal decision,” Dubiel said. “I’ve had a lot of fun and satisfaction doing sports marketing for Pepsi, but after 13 years, I just decided it was time to think about something new.”
Dubiel said that fashioning the Pepsi Refresh project was a high point for him. The cause-related project integrated nearly every one of the company’s sports sponsorships.
Dubiel said he would stay with Pepsi through the end of June. After that, “I haven’t made up my mind whether I want to stay in sports or get back to more mainstream brand marketing,” he said.
Dubiel is leaving with a solid reputation among industry peers. “Jeff always understands the larger marketing picture at hand and as a result, he works hard to support both his own company’s initiatives and those of the property,’’ said John Brody, former MLB senior vice president of corporate sales and marketing, who now heads Wasserman Media Group’s sales efforts.
The question of a successor to Dubiel is an intriguing one, since his departure comes during a time of reorganization within Pepsi.
“Everyone sees a restructuring coming,” said a source familiar with Pepsi politics, “so the person running sports could be anyone from an internal candidate like [Gatorade senior vice president of sports marketing] Jenny Storms if they move to consolidate Gatorade and Pepsi sports marketing, to an outside candidate or even a P&G model, where individual brands control their sports marketing.”
Before being named vice president of sports marketing after the promotion of former company executive Ralph Santana, Dubiel held the title of vice president of premium beverages and did stints at SoBe and the Starbucks/Pepsi beverage partnership. He was a marketing manager at the Gallo Winery before joining Pepsi.
Could Li Na be the next Yao Ming, an endorsement star from China?
Li Na’s historic French Open victory has opened doors with sponsors.
“She has captivated a country,” said Max Eisenbud, Li’s agent at IMG, explaining the interest in his suddenly star client. “We could do 25 deals.”
About 116 million people in China watched Li’s Slam breakthrough earlier this month, according to the WTA Tour, ranking it in terms of viewership on par with the number of people who watch the Super Bowl in the United States. That kind of interest has Western companies that are eager to gain a brand presence in China looking to align with the 29-year-old player, a late bloomer by tennis standards. A similar wave followed Yao upon his arrival in the NBA in 2002.
Li added deals from Rolex and Häagen-Dazs after making the Australian Open final earlier this year. Now, no price may be too high.
Eisenbud said he has received scores of requests for appearances before the U.S. Open in late August. His inclination has been to turn them down, but he threw out the figure of $200,000 for a short appearance, and he said he has had takers at that amount.
Those kinds of offers give Eisenbud, who also represents Maria Sharapova, confidence that Li will earn at least $40 million off-court over the next three years.
Sharapova’s off-court earnings, by comparison, are estimated at more than $25 million annually, the most in women’s sports.
Jeff Sofka, whose sports marketing agency Bendigo specializes in China, believes Li will be an asset not just in China but also in Chinese communities around the world.
In China, he predicted, she will be a star.
“Li Na has all the critical benchmarks that would make her a star,” he said. “Most important: being internationally successful outside of China.”
Michigan International Speedway and ESPN collaborated to sign Michigan’s tourism bureau to one of the first packages to include a NASCAR race title sponsorship and media sponsorship.
The one-year deal, which was announced Sunday, is valued in the low seven figures and makes Pure Michigan the title sponsor of Michigan International Speedway’s Aug. 21 Sprint Cup Series race. The race title sponsorship is worth $400,000 to $600,000, and the media rights during ESPN’s telecast of the race are also valued in the mid to high six figures.
The combined sale represents a shift in NASCAR. Historically, tracks sold title sponsorships independently and then handed sponsors over to networks that sold a supporting ad buy. If a title partner passed on buying TV time, a network would sell a presenting sponsorship for the race broadcast to another corporation and limit or even eliminate on-air references to the track’s title partner. As a result, spectators might attend the AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway while viewers watched the Texas 500 presented by GoDaddy from Texas Motor Speedway on ESPN.
In the case of the deal with Pure Michigan, Michigan International Speedway and ESPN pitched the network together. The Michigan tourism bureau then negotiated a race title sponsorship with the speedway, while its agency negotiated a media package with ESPN. Both the track and the network sacrificed some money they typically get for those deals, but both wound up with a partner that they believe will derive more value out of the relationship because of the complementary on-site and media assets.
“If we collaborate and are willing to give a bit, you get huge wins out of it,” said Terry Kalna, managing director, partnership sales and marketing sales, at International Speedway Corp., which owns Michigan International Speedway and 11 other Sprint Cup Series tracks. “It’s good for the industry and shows what the maximum value a race entitlement is when you own the race and the media.”
Though the deal is a one-year agreement, the Michigan tourism group has indicated that it could be interested in extending it. The organization has a $28.5 million budget in 2011 and is in the midst of a national cable TV campaign that targets potential vacationers across the country.
“Sixty percent of our fans come from out of state and this is a great fit,” said Michigan International Speedway President Roger Curtis. “It’s an awesome opportunity to talk to folks coming from around the Midwest, and Pure Michigan recognized that.”
Major League Baseball has signed a three-year licensing deal with EyeBlack.com, a Maryland-based manufacturer of protective adhesives used to reduce sun glare.
The eight-year-old EyeBlack.com has primarily made its name thus far in college sports and is aligned with more than 400 programs. It also creates product on behalf of many companies, including Nike and Anheuser-Busch.
The deal at its outset is not exclusive, though MLB is not actively pursuing another entity for the sun glare protection category.
“This is a natural fit for us,” said Howard Smith, MLB senior vice president of licensing. “This in particular is a great branding extension to younger fans, and frankly, it was a pretty easy thing for us to do. We haven’t really seen anybody focused on this type of product like these guys are.”
The product, constructed of medical-grade tape, will be sold at eyeblack.com, as well as several brick-and-mortar retail chains such as Dick’s Sporting Goods. The adhesives will come in a variety of styles and colors, including black, pink, camouflage and individual team colors.
In addition to the fan market, MLB and EyeBlack.com see significant revenue opportunity in selling the adhesives to the thousands of youth baseball leagues around the country that use MLB team names and logos.
“That’s a very important marketplace for us,” said Peter Beveridge, EyeBlack.com founder and president. “There are so many teams that use the MLB logos as part of their uniforms, and we’re only now able to sell into that market. But we absolutely see huge opportunity there.”
EyeBlack.com, which sold more than 5 million sets of the adhesives in 2010, also is nearing endorsement deals with several pro athletes to help buttress its push beyond college sports.
Major League Soccer clubs have cashed in on the league’s decision to open local marketing rights in the beer and soft drink categories.
This spring the league renewed sponsorships with longtime partners Anheuser-Busch and Pepsi and for the first time in the league’s 15-year history the deals allowed clubs to sign local partners in both categories. A source said clubs had been asking the league to free up the categories for at least five years in order to increase revenue and local activation. Under the new deal, teams have the ability to bring on multiple partners in both categories.
After the league signed a four-year extension with Anheuser-Busch for U.S. rights in March, six clubs signed local deals with A-B and seven more signed with other beermakers. After the league signed a similar four-year, soft drink extension with Pepsi in mid-April, five clubs signed local deals with Coca-Cola, four clubs deepened their stadium agreement with Pepsi to include marketing rights, and the San Jose Earthquakes and Houston Dynamo signed deals with the Dr Pepper Snapple Group for 7Up and Dr Pepper, respectively.
Changes in the partnership with Anheuser-Busch at the league level allowed Chivas USA to sell a jersey sponsorship to Corona.
Chivas USA has been perhaps the biggest benefactor in the beer category, signing Grupo Modelo to a multiyear jersey sponsorship for the Corona Extra brand in January. Terms of the deal were not released, though similar deals are in the $1 million to $2 million range per year.
Dawn Ridley, vice president of business development for D.C. United, said the club’s recent deal with Pennsylvania-based beermaker Yuengling allows the club to better cross-promote its brand within the local market.
“It gives us a regional opportunity with [Yuengling], which we did not have before,” Ridley said. “They are not the kind of company doing a lot of national marketing, but they are very relevant in the D.C. area.”
D.C. United representatives declined to discuss terms of the Yuengling deal. Ridley said Yuengling will take on a presenting role of the team’s Hall of Tradition awards area at RFK Stadium, and the beer’s logo will appear on the team website and in stadium signage. The club does not own pouring rights at RFK, but the team’s contract with concessionaire Centerplate will allow Yuengling to distribute at the venue.
Like D.C. United, the Earthquakes signed a deal with San Francisco-based beer Gordon Biersch, and the Portland Timbers signed a founding stadium deal with Portland-based Widmer Brothers Brewing Co.
The 2010 MLS Cup champion Colorado Rapids had a pre-existing founding partnership with Coke at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, and the club added marketing rights to the Coke deal in February. Coke two-liter bottles sold in Colorado Wal-Mart stores now feature Rapids branding. Coke also sponsors and locally promotes the team’s Family Nights ticket package, which sells a four-pack of tickets, meals and Cokes for $49. According to Rapids CMO Tim Hinchey, the Coke partnership allowed the club to lower the price of the package from $69 in 2010. The team sold 539 tickets at its largest Family Night game before the Coke partnership. With the partnership, the club sold 3,484 family night tickets to a May 22 game.
“[The Coke partnership] allows us to get out into the community in a way we couldn’t before,” Hinchey said.
The Chicago Fire boosted its stadium pouring deal with MillerCoors to include marketing rights, as did the Philadelphia Union with Anheuser-Busch.
FC Dallas, the Los Angeles Galaxy and New England Revolution are still without partners in either category. Tom Payne, president of the Galaxy, said the team’s strong national TV schedule — 11 of its 34 games are nationally televised — has limited the club’s options in the categories. Only league partners are able to activate in-stadium during nationally televised games.
Representatives from FC Dallas and the Revolution said the clubs are pursuing deals in both categories.
Six NBA sponsors are finalizing activation plans for Thursday’s NBA draft, which is being held outside of New York City for the first time since 2000, when it was held at Target Center in Minneapolis.
Adidas is prepping new-look caps for the league's draftees.
Among league sponsors, American Express, Kia, Gatorade, Hewlett-Packard, Taco Bell and T-Mobile will be activating at the new location.
With the move out of Manhattan comes additional room outside the arena for activation. Accordingly, the NBA will run an all-day fan festival on the concourse outside Prudential Center.
Kia replaces EA Sports as presenting sponsor of the draft and will be identified as such on live coverage on ESPN and NBA TV. Pushing its Optima midsize sedan and its Sorento crossover SUV, Kia will display two cars on the concourse and sponsor a “green screen” photo area where fans can take a “virtual” photo of them as a draft pick on the official stage. Kia also serves as presenting sponsor of two NBA Cares programs the day before the draft.
AmEx is using the draft to continue offering cardholders unique access points, including a behind-the-scenes draft experience and another package that combines draft day access with a fantasy camp the day after the draft at the Nets practice facility.
Taco Bell is incorporating the draft into its Graduate to Go scholarship program, with five students receiving behind-the-scenes access, while T-Mobile, in what will likely be its last activation as an NBA sponsor after six years as a league sponsor, will be showcasing and selling its Sidekick Android phone inside and outside the arena.
Gatorade and H-P will have product on display throughout, and all the NBA sponsors named above will have ads on the draft telecasts.
The PGA Tour is taking its yearlong “New Breed vs. Establishment” campaign to Facebook as part of a new game that will give users a chance to compete for prizes while, the tour hopes, developing a stronger allegiance to favorite players.
The tour wants fans to find a rooting interest.
“We’ve had a big emphasis all year, especially online, for people to engage with the golfers and show their support,” said Scott Gutterman, executive producer at PGATour.com.
The PGA Tour matchup game is expected to launch this week or next on Facebook. Each week, editors at PGATour.com will create five head-to-head matchups and the low score for the tournament wins the matchup. The “New Breed vs. Establishment” theme will contribute to the formation of these matchups.
Users with the best record will be entered to win a $50 gift certificate to the store on PGATour.com. At the end of the season, a grand prize $1,500 gift certificate to the store will be awarded.
To be eligible, users must have a Facebook account and register for the PGA Tour Matchups game. The matchups game does not have a sponsor yet, but the tour could add it to the inventory it’s selling if the game catches on. The game will be promoted from PGATour.com.
“You know it’s working when people pick up the debate and carry it forward through social media,” Gutterman said. “We’ve now got more than 40 players across our three tours (PGA, Nationwide, Champions) on Twitter and some of the guys, like Graeme McDowell, spend quite a bit of time on there answering questions from fans. It gives the players a chance to distinguish themselves and engage with the followers. A lot of the guys now are doing a very good job of standing out.”
The U.S. Golf Association and Royal Bank of Scotland have agreed to a multiyear extension that will keep the financial services giant as one of just four corporate sponsors of the U.S. Open.
RBS, which is represented by CAA Sports, joins Lexus as two partners that have extended their deals this year. American Express, the USGA’s first corporate partner, extended last year.
The fourth partner, IBM, launched USOpen.com in 2008 and redesigned the site this year. Its original four-year deal with the USGA began in 2008, which puts it in a renewal year after this U.S. Open as well.
The USGA, which didn’t have a corporate partner program until 2006, has had four partners since 2008, and it remains to be seen if it will expand. It has not set a ceiling for the program, but it also has not revealed any plans to expand it.
One category that’s thought to be in play if the USGA decides to take on another partner is telecommunications.
COURSE CONCIERGE: Inside its interactive fan area near the entrance to Congressional, American Express unveiled a new program called “Course Curator,” which enables cardholders to customize their day at the tournament.
AmEx’s “Course Curator” allows fans more control over their day at the Open.
So AmEx’s sponsorship team came up with a way for fans to input the golfers they want to follow and the holes they want to see into a computer. The computer prints out directions to certain holes, where to find players, and how to avoid congested areas on the course, among other things.
The information is stored on a card and can be updated at one of the four interactive AmEx kiosks around the course. And with fans unable to bring their cellphones on the course, the kiosks allow fans to update their social network sites with updates from the course.
“This has the potential to really change the golf-day experience for fans,” said Barry Hyde, the USGA’s chief marketing officer. “This is AmEx’s concept and we’re just glad they chose to bring it to Congressional.”
AmEx has not decided yet whether it will take the same digital kiosks to Atlanta for the PGA Championship in August. The card company also is a sponsor of the PGA of America.
ULTIMATE DRIVING: Lexus, a USGA partner since 2007, supplied 264 vehicles to the USGA for player courtesy cars and for tournament officials. Dave Nordstrom, Lexus vice president of marketing, said it was a challenge to secure that many cars in the aftermath of the March tsunami in Japan, but the Toyota brand worked with dealers to make sure it could deliver.
“Lexus didn’t make a car for a month, so we had to prioritize,” Nordstrom said. “The dealers have been very supportive.”
Lexus’ fleet of cars, which is managed by Peter Jacobsen Sports, will be cleaned and transported to the U.S. Women’s Open and the Senior Open as well. New to this year is Lexus’ commitment to provide smaller fleets to the USGA’s 10 other national championships as well.
PHONES NOT WELCOME: The USGA has no plans to permit cellphones on the course during the U.S. Open, but the governing body has discussed the issue.
“Until we’re convinced that we can conduct our championships with cellphones on the course without a disruption, we’re not going to do it,” said USGA Executive Director Mike Davis. “And we’re not there yet.”
The PGA Tour decided earlier this year to allow cellphones on the course at its events, and the PGA of America allowed them on a trial basis at the Senior PGA Championship last month.
In 1995, the beverage and salty snacks marketer produced a Super Bowl ad that was homage to the 1989 movie “Field of Dreams.” Earlier this season, Pepsi, an MLB corporate sponsor since 1997, hired commercial director nonpareil Joe Pytka to produce “Field of Dreams”-inspired TV and online ads for Pepsi Max. The spots included no less than seven baseball hall of famers and current MLB stalwarts like CC Sabathia, Jim Thome and Evan Longoria, all playing in a cornfield that was created in a Tampa warehouse specifically for the ads.
MLB stars young and old gather at a faux cornfield for the new Pepsi Max ads.
Of course, any baseball promotion that includes a fan election brings to mind the MasterCard-sponsored All-Century Team in 1999 and its 2002 Memorable Moments promo, in which fans voted to determine the 10 most memorable moments in MLB history.
While industry sources noted that there were some budgetary concerns within Pepsi concerning the “Field of Dreams” program, sources in the agent community indicated Pepsi was already in the market signing players for the program, including some players that appeared in this year’s ads.
Traditionally, most of the support behind Pepsi’s MLB sponsorship has been before the mid-July All-Star Game.
ALL IN: As the dates that normally would be associated with NFL training camps get closer, we continue to monitor the field for marketers willing to bite the bullet and commission NFL marketing before a new collective-bargaining agreement is signed.
Your average NFL sponsor is in a quandary. “You are kind of caught in the middle because if a settlement comes late, you can’t be in a position where all you can do is shrug your shoulders,” said a marketer at one of the NFL’s largest corporate sponsors. “But you can’t use players with marks, so if you decide to go ahead with a TV campaign, it kind of restricts what kind of creative you can do.”
Every week, though, we seem to find at least one more big brand shooting NFL TV ads. The latest is Subway, not a league sponsor but a large media buyer on NFL rights holders. The nation’s largest fast feeder shot ads last week in Rockland County, N.Y., that included Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, last season’s Rookie of the Year, along with former New York Giants player and current Fox NFL analyst Michael Strahan and Giants defensive end Justin Tuck. As for exactly when those ads will air? “Just as soon as the darn lockout is over,” said Subway CMO Tony Pace.
That’s a date everyone wants to know.
NEW BREW REVIEW: With a Canadian court overturning the NHL’s record Molson deal in favor of incumbent Labatt, we’ve been fielding a lot of questions from teams and marketing types as to how this affects the United States, where Anheuser-Busch had NHL rights since 1994 before MillerCoors signed with the league last year. We are told by a senior league source that MillerCoors’ U.S. rights will transfer seamlessly July 1 and are assured that work on U.S. marketing is proceeding on schedule, both at the league and within the brewer.
In a decision by the Ontario Superior Court (posted online here), Justice Frank Newbould ruled that because “an exclusive negotiating period was extended indefinitely by the NHL,” the league had no right to separately negotiate with MolsonCoors. The judge cited an email from Judy Davey, MolsonCoors marketing vice president, citing concern about entering into negotiations and noted that the MolsonCoors Canadian NHL deal was made only after “gaining an indemnity from the NHL expressly referring to litigation or threatened litigation by Labatt.”
The NHL maintains it did not extend the exclusive negotiating window. The Canadian case is scheduled for a July 7 appeal.
One intriguing note in the decision: If Labatt/Budweiser retain the rights, the league’s official beer in Canada would change, per the brand’s insistence, from Bud Light to Budweiser, which does not receive nearly the same amount of media support.
Another direction: DeSean Jackson is back with Reed Bergman for marketing deals.
Jackson has been a Nike endorser since entering the league, but that deal is up.
Rosenhaus Sports continues to handle Jackson’s playing contract.
COMINGS & GOINGS: Randy Burdette has been hired by Nike to be its top executive within the company’s NFL licensing program, which won’t be shipping product to retail until next spring. It’s a hat trick of sorts for Burdette, since he was in charge of the NFL brand at VF and then was licensed property manager, NFL, for Adidas. … In what might be interpreted as a commentary on how much new business the NFL is landing while bereft of a CBA, Marc Lowitz, vice president of business development since last October, has left the NFL for a position with the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City. The 30-year-old museum attracts more than 900,000 visitors annually, already houses the aircraft carrier Intrepid, and soon will add a retired space shuttle prototype to its collection. Lowitz previously held jobs with the AFL and WTA. … Kevin McIntyre leaves the Leverage Agency, New York, where he had been senior vice president of sales, for a job as vice president/global partnerships with Major League Gaming, also in New York City.
Terry Lefton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.