Sherwin-Williams signs with IndyCar MLS, SNHU sign new partnership The Lefton Report: Playing it Safelite Mike Slive: Going out on top Precourt thoughtful in remaking Crew Challenging schools on cheating DraftKings closes on $300M funding round NBC readies year-out efforts for Games Best opportunities outside of teams Fanatics' new era of racetrack retail
SBJ/March 31-April 6, 2014/Marketing and SponsorshipPrint All
■ Sponsorship marketing is unusual for your company. What was the catalyst for the MLB deal?
Jim Craigie’s Church & Dwight markets Arm & Hammer and OxiClean.
Photo by:TERRY LEFTON / STAFF
■ Is this about getting retailers excited or tapping into consumer passions?
CRAIGIE: A bit of both. We want to delight consumers when they know the two great brands are tied together, and the retailers love it because baseball is an iconic American institution that should get traffic into their store. Our Arm & Hammer brand has been growing at double-digit rates, but we were looking for the next thing to grow the brand. The time of year, the fact that women attend more MLB games than all other sports combined, and that women are major buyers of our brands, I think makes this a winning combination.
■ Which shared brand equities will make this work?
CRAIGIE: Baseball is about the family going out, having fun, and clothes getting dirty. As far as fabric care, I could show you so many letters we’ve received where consumers say my kid came home from the baseball game with stains you couldn’t believe and your product was the answer.
■ Sales are an obvious metric, but which other criteria will you look at when you are evaluating this deal?
CRAIGIE: We’ll look at whether consumers believe what we did is a natural fit and something that reinforces the equities of cleaning and stain fighting. We do tracking studies all the time and we’ll be looking at whether consumers think it is appropriate. I think it’s a no-brainer. This isn’t a niche sport. We have all-American brands used in every household and this [MLB] is an all-American property.
In addition to a new playing contract, David Ortiz continues to collect endorsements to go with the World Series MVP award he won last year while leading the Boston Red Sox to their third MLB title in 10 years.
Ortiz’s latest deal is with Samsung, which is starting to look hard at a variety of MLB deals after investing heavily in NBA league and team rights late last year.
Dog days: David Ortiz signed in the offseason to pitch Pedigree dog food.
“Social media is where it’s at and David’s partners are demonstrating that,” said Alex Radetsky of Radegen Sports Management, who has handled marketing for Ortiz for 12 years.
MLB on-field cap rights holder New Era is using Ortiz as one of 10 to 12 MLB endorsers for its new “Home of the Authentic” retail program with Lids. Web video for New Era has been shot, and Ortiz will get his own specialized caps at Lids in the Boston market.
The Davie-Brown Index says Ortiz is known by 55 percent of consumers nationally, on par with Phil Jackson, Steve Young and Mark Cuban. The World Series MVP performance increased Ortiz’s awareness level from 48 percent in August 2013, to 55 percent. The only active players with higher national awareness are Alex Rodriguez (79 percent) and Derek Jeter (75 percent). Ortiz’s 852 DBI endorsement score is comparable to those of Joe Torre and Nolan Ryan.
Other offseason deals saw Ortiz link up with Mars-owned Pedigree dog food and sign a memorabilia deal with Fanatics.com.
In terms of existing partnerships, Ortiz did a “viral” video with his son pushing Sony’s PlayStation 4 console. Other brands in his portfolio include Capri Sun and Fuse. Ortiz is also executive producer for “Off the Bat From the MLB Fan Cave,” a 30-episode baseball lifestyle and fashion show that will air weekly on MTV2 starting this week.
Electronics giant Panasonic is creating a new business unit, Panasonic Enterprise Solutions Co., that will house its video display and environmental groups serving sports teams and buildings.
Best known in many circles for its consumer electronics business, Panasonic in recent years has become a player in the stadium scoreboard space, supplying projects such as Big Hoss at Texas Motor Speedway, the largest high-definition video board in the world, and the world’s largest 4K resolution board, at Churchill Downs.
The move includes an undisclosed corporate capitalization into the unit and an as-yet-undetermined increase in personnel. “We are looking to better position ourselves for considerable growth,” said Jim Doyle, a Panasonic veteran who will be president of the new operating unit. An announcement is expected this week.
The company’s sports interests began in earnest with its Olympic TOP sponsorship, which began in 1988. “Some people don’t think about us having a lot of focus or interest in sports, but we’ve been active in the space for a long time, and this move allows to go even deeper,” Doyle said.
As previously noted on these pages, marketers abuse the King’s English to a greater degree than most professions. But these lesser words have seeped into popular use like the latest flu strain and are nearly as insidious, so it’s not just marketers upon whom we want to drop an Oxford dictionary anymore.
We’re unsure if excessive use of these words vexes you to the same degree. Regardless, you’ve surely noticed that 95 percent of the time when people say “literally,” what they mean is “figuratively.” So we’re herewith banning that most overused and misused word, along with a series of others, as linguistic malware. If we don’t stop them, our collective hard drive will fill with mauvais mots and crash.
We admit to having used iconic in describing everything from advertising — like Ogilvy’s spot headlined “At 60 miles per hour, the loudest noise in this new Rolls Royce comes from the electric clock” — to zoos. (The Bronx version without baseball players will serve nicely here, thanks). Now, we’re done, because “iconic” just ain’t as iconic as it used to be. The word has lost whatever meaning it had. Our sure-fire test: Next time someone utters “iconic” in your presence, resist the urge to slap the person and instead ask the not-so-cunning linguist to define the word without using the root, “icon.” Nine out of 10 will fail, so we’re also banning that word as clichéd.
OK, now we’re literally on a roll, so let’s also forbid the use of “ecosystem.” It’s as stale as last week’s pizza, and while the original meaning of symbiosis seems practical, it now has become the mother of collective nouns. We have a word that works perfectly here: universe. That’s not a large enough set? Note to anyone in the technology sector: Nothing in your universe is an ecosystem.
Our high school friend Francesca Consagra is a curator. Naturally, she had some insight on the usurpation of a word once reserved for the arts. “We have chefs and cooks; ballerinas and dancers; we have curators, and people who compile and edit,” said Consagra, senior curator of prints, drawings and European paintings at the University of Texas’ Blanton Museum of Art. “What we don’t have is a proper name for the latter, and many people still don’t know what curators do.’’
Those who insist on using words that aren’t words are the ones we really want to walk off the lexicographic plank. No, your sales department won’t be “incentivized” (though we acknowledge the word’s existence in some lesser dictionaries). That same staff will likely be “incented’’ by a higher commission structure.
There’s long been a epidemic in business circles of fabricating verbs. Certainly you’ve been in meetings where people drop all those “-ize” words. The problem is, everyone’s there to strategize and monetize, so unabashedly they invite co-workers to “product-ize, event-ize’’ and “consumer-ize,” with misguided passion.
They should all be ostracized.
Who are these people promulgating the English-by-business committee? They’re the same ones preoccupied with making things more “merchandisable” and “actionable.” They’re using “architect” as a verb in place of build, and “parking lot” in reference to a desired hiatus. “Park” isn’t adequate?
So if anyone asks you whether a specific task is “doable,” tell him or her that it never will be, even if The New York Times occasionally uses that term in a headline. It may be possible, achievable, feasible, probable, attainable or even viable — but let’s leave “doable” for hairdressers.
All this ideation has made us weary. On a move-forward basis, we’re just maximizing bandwidth in the omnichannel universe of syntax. TTFN. Gotta go onboard some new employees. Then we’ll resume editizing content.
Terry Lefton can be reached at email@example.com.
The 2014 edition of Topps’ MLS trading cards is giving club supporters groups, members of the Mexican national team and advanced statistics their due.
For the first time on MLS cards, supporters clubs such as the LA Galaxy’s LA Riot Squad and the New York Red Bulls’ Empire Supporters Club will be featured, just as Landon Donovan, Thierry Henry and the other players the clubs cheer for at matches are showcased.
“It was time to honor the fans,” said Topps brand manager Zvee Geffen. “The supporters culture of MLS is a big reason why the league has skyrocketed in popularity over the last five to 10 years. These supporters groups have become big stars around the league, so they deserve the showcase.”
This is the second year of a partnership between Topps and MLS. The card company signed a six-year agreement with Soccer United Marketing, MLS’s commercial arm, in May 2013 after the league’s prior trading card license expired with Upper Deck.
The 2014 card offering, which will be at retail beginning this week, also will include cards of 10 players from the Mexican men’s national team, which is represented in its business interests by SUM. Among the players will be Javier Hernandez, the Manchester United star more commonly known as Chicharito.
“The Hispanic market hasn’t traditionally been a big one for cards, but we’re convinced there’s a lot of potential for growth,” Geffen said. “With the World Cup a few months away, we know there’s going to be a spike. The age 12 to 24 demographic is big for Topps, and MLS rates favorably with Hispanic markets, and the Mexican national team is incredibly popular across North America.”
Also new for this year’s card set is that the backs of the MLS player cards will feature advanced statistics. For example, cards for goalkeepers will have a graphic of a goal net split into six sections, with the number of saves and goals allowed in each section during the 2013 season noted. Midfielder cards will list stats such as pass accuracy and scoring chances created per game.
“MLS fans are data-driven, and we wanted to embrace that,” said Maribeth Towers, senior vice president of consumer products for MLS. “It was time for in-depth and advanced statistics on the backs of our cards.”
Added Geffen, “We’re trying to make the card-back relevant again.”
Under Armour has moved into NASCAR.
The sporting goods company has signed multiyear sponsorships with Hendrick Motorsports and Michael Waltrip Racing. It becomes the official apparel provider for both teams, outfitting everyone from the pit crew to the front office in Under Armour-branded apparel.
The deals don’t include the teams’ drivers, and financial terms weren’t available.
Last year, Under Armour signed a one-year, trial sponsorship with Hendrick Motorsports and outfitted the team’s pit crews. It opted to expand that deal this year with a three-year extension that will see it outfit not only the pit crews but the rest of Hendrick’s 500 employees. It provides everything from footwear and hats to polos and pullovers. It also has branding on Hendrick pit crew members’ fire suits (Under Armour does not produce fire suits) and on the team’s pit wall banners, haulers, pit box and pit toolbox.
The deal doesn’t include Hendrick’s drivers — Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson or Kasey Kahne — but Under Armour does have rights to use their likeness as well as the likeness of their car and number, which it could use on apparel.
Hendrick, which had a deal with Adidas from 2008 to 2010, has invested heavily in improving the performance of its pit crews in recent years. It has doubled the size of its strength and conditioning staff, expanded its gym and built a state-of-the-art athletic field with a track that has the same surface as the track at the London Olympics. Those investments and Hendrick’s emphasis on improving performance attracted Under Armour to the team.
“The sophistication our organization has applied to performance and the forward thinking and strategy we’ve developed around athlete development and recruiting really resonated with Under Armour,” said Pat Perkins, Hendrick Motorsports’ vice president of marketing.
Under Armour signed with Michael Waltrip Racing because it saw similarities between its identity as an upstart brand that’s challenged established apparel companies and the team’s identity as a relatively new, gritty team that’s pushing its way into the upper echelon of NASCAR.
Terms of the two-year sponsorship are similar to the deal with Hendrick. Under Armour will supply pit crew apparel and team and executive apparel and receive the same mix of pit assets it is getting from Hendrick. It also will become the presenting sponsor of a new athletic facility and gym that MWR built at its headquarters in Cornelius, N.C., which has been branded as the MWR Performance Center Presented by Under Armour.
The deal is the first apparel sponsorship for MWR. The team previously bought its apparel from Oakley.
“When you can associate yourself with a world-class brand, that’s big,” said Ty Norris, MWR’s executive director for business development. “When you can expand your sponsorship portfolio to help on the budget side of your business, that’s a positive all the way around.”
In anticipation of record U.S. interest in the World Cup, sponsors are planning their largest domestic marketing efforts ever for the global soccer tournament.
Coca-Cola said its program in the U.S. will be comparable to what it does for the Summer Olympics; McDonald’s will take 25 children to a World Cup for the first time; Visa will have 40 percent more banking partners tap into its World Cup assets; and Adidas is projecting a 30 percent increase in World Cup-related apparel and soccer sales.
The 2014 World Cup, which begins in Brazil this June, will be the first played in the same time zone as the U.S. since the 1994 World Cup. (Most of Brazil is one hour ahead of Eastern time.) The favorable time zone, combined with an increase in interest in global soccer over the last four years, has sponsors and ESPN anticipating record interest and viewership of the World Cup in the U.S.
The 2010 World Cup delivered record viewership for ESPN as games across ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC averaged 3.26 million viewers, a 41 percent increase from 2006.
Most World Cup sponsors won’t release their marketing plans outside Brazil until April or May, but several sponsorship executives said spending on World Cup marketing in the U.S. will be up considerably from years past.
“We have huge ambition, and we’re activating this FIFA World Cup as big as we do Summer Olympics in the U.S.,” said Emmanuel Seuge, Coca-Cola’s vice president, global alliances and ventures.
Coca-Cola will reveal its World Cup marketing plans in the U.S. in about a month. Seuge said that Coke’s marketing will include everything from packaging and retail marketing to digital media. “In 2010, we were still activating the event in pockets of the U.S. where we know [soccer] and the passion of [soccer] was stronger,” Seuge said. “This year we’re doing it nationwide without exception.”
McDonald’s sponsorship of FIFA allows it to provide the player escorts for each World Cup game. It holds a global contest and selects more than 1,400 children worldwide for the program. For the first time, it will take 25 children from the U.S. to a World Cup. It will complement that with a national marketing program around the World Cup.
“We’ve ramped up tenfold, easily, for this World Cup [from past years],” said John Lewicki, McDonald’s head of global alliances.
Visa is sponsoring its second World Cup this year. The company’s sponsorship of FIFA allows it to share its promotional rights to the World Cup with banks that partner on Visa cards. Ricardo Fort, Visa senior vice president of global sponsorship marketing, said the number of U.S. banks with World Cup-related promotions has increased 40 percent from 2010.
Budweiser is one of the only FIFA sponsors to announce its marketing and promotion plans in the U.S. The company hired two Emmy-winning directors to make six 30-minute documentaries for Fox Sports 1 about soccer’s ability to be more than a game and help with everything from overcoming racism in France to prompting a temporary cease-fire during World War I.