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Volume 24 No. 156

Marketing and Sponsorship

NBA sponsors are “offering a mix of special experiences and the ability for fans to be more closely involved” at this weekend’s All-Star activities in L.A., according to Terry Lefton in this week’s SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. Among the new activations, American Express is “back as a sponsor after a five-year league absence, and will serve as presenting sponsor” of the “All-Star Entertainment Series,” a collection of musical performances in and around the weekend. AmEx is “offering cardholders unique access to various sports and entertainment events, including meet and greets with musicians and NBA legends, and it will title sponsor the Rookie Challenge game.” T-Mobile is sponsoring "a 'magenta carpet' event in accordance to its brand dress.” New NBA sponsor BBVA will serve as title sponsor for the celebrity game on Friday night and “will be running a significant hospitality program for its European executives and clients.” Meanwhile, Lefton notes the NBA will “continue its Day of Service on Friday during All-Star Weekend,” with sponsors BBVA, Kia, State Farm and Haier supporting (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 2/14 issue). MARKETING DAILY’s Karl Greenberg noted Sprite, Kia, BBVA, Taco Bell, AmEx, T-Mobile and State Farm “are just a few activating around the game." NBA Senior VP/Global Marketing Partnerships Emilio Collins said that first-time All-Star Game partner Kia “will have a grassroots footprint” this weekend around L.A. to “showcase its vehicles, including the NBA Jam Session, an interactive hoops theme park national grassroots program that Kia sponsors” (MARKETING DAILY, 2/14 issue).

DYNAMITE MARKET: ADWEEK’s Anthony Crupi notes a “powerhouse ad market and double-digit ratings gains primed the pump for a quick sellout" of TNT’s NBA All-Star Game Weekend broadcasts. Turner Sports "has raked in an estimated $36.5 million in All-Star ad sales, a leap of 25 percent versus last year’s take.” Turner Sports Exec VP/Ad Sales & Marketing Jon Diament said, “This is probably the strongest sports marketplace in history.” Diament added that NBA on TNT dollars "are up 30 percent” this season. Crupi notes TNT’s All-Star Game telecast on Sunday will be presented by Kia Motors for the second year. Hyundai will also return as “presenting sponsor of the postgame show.” In addition, Acura, Chrysler and Ford have bought 30-second spots “during in-game coverage.” Crupi notes “beer and spirits are well represented, with Anheuser-Busch InBev shooting it out with rival MillerCoors.” London-based Diageo, producer of Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker and Guinness, also has “bought time in the telecast” (ADWEEK, 2/13 issue).

The Reds today announced “a five-year extension of PNC Bank’s sponsorship of the team through the 2015 season,” according to Alexander Coolidge of the CINCINNATI ENQUIRER. Financial terms were not disclosed. Reds Owner Bob Castellini and PNC Regional President Kay Geiger said that they are “exploring cross-marketing opportunities to push more fans into Great American Ball Park and more customers into the bank’s branches and online services.” Geiger said that as part of the renewed alliance, the bank and ballpark “will more actively market one another.” She “foresees a day in the near future where PNC mobile customers can purchase Reds tickets via the bank’s app.” The Reds will offer PNC customers a 24-hour “Beat the Box Office” opportunity “to purchase single game tickets on Tuesday, Feb. 22, before general sales are open to the public, excluding Opening Day and the three Yankees games in June.” PNC also will “enhance Reds visibility in its branches with signs and schedules.” The partnership makes PNC “the exclusive and official bank, financial adviser, trust and mortgage banker, investment management and brokerage service provider of the Reds.” Fans will see PNC brand “the iconic Power Stacks in right field” at Great American Ball Park as the “PNC Power Stacks.” The bank also will have “expanded in-park presence” with ATMs and signs. PNC additionally is “exploring partnering its school readiness program, Grow Up Great, with the Reds’ existing outreach programs.” The bank will hold “Reds Days at branches with select team members” (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER, 2/16).

U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) has “introduced an amendment to a 2011 budget bill to ban the military from sponsoring NASCAR teams,” according to Dustin Long of the Norfolk VIRGINIAN-PILOT. Military branches have been affiliated with NASCAR teams “for years, believing it helped recruiting.” The National Guard sponsors Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s No. 88 Sprint Cup car, while the U.S. Army sponsors Ryan Newman's No. 39 and the U.S. Air Force sponsors AJ Allmendinger's No. 43 ride. Bill Harper, McCollum’s Chief of Staff, “dismisses the effectiveness of those sponsorships on recruiting.” Harper: "I would challenge the Pentagon to give me one example of someone today in Iraq or Afghanistan who saw the Go Army car going around the race track and that's why they joined the Army." Harper indicated that “nothing in the amendment would prevent any military branch from recruiting at NASCAR events; it's just that Rep. McCollum does not see the benefit of spending millions to be on the cars.” Long notes current NASCAR sponsorship totals “are unavailable, but in 2009, the U.S. Army paid $11.6 million to sponsor Newman's car.” Although military branches “sponsor race teams on other circuits -- drag racing and IndyCar, for example -- the amendment is only directed at NASCAR.” Harper admitted that “there is a long way to go for this amendment to become a part of the law” (Norfolk VIRGINIAN-PILOT, 2/16). McCollum’s office said that the military “has spent more than $100 million over the past decade since it began sponsoring NASCAR.” Harper: “We don’t believe taxpayer dollars should be going to pay for race-car teams” (, 2/15).

Nilsson says adidas will continue
to focus on young consumers
adidas is "expected to introduce a major global marketing campaign in March," and "assisting in that effort" is Patrik Nilsson, the brand's North American President, according to Allan Brettman of the Portland OREGONIAN. Upon joining adidas in '07, Nilsson "began the task of tilting at Nike." In a recent interview, the Sweden native "emphasized his company's commitment to Portland, his history with adidas, and his company's plan to catch Nike." The following is a portion of the Q&A:

Q: Last November, adidas announced "Route 2015," a plan for growing the adidas Group business by 45 percent to 50 percent to $23 billion by 2015 -- essentially matching or exceeding Nike. How will adidas America contribute to matching this goal?
Nilsson: The focus of our plan is a laser focus on the younger consumer. We of course have always gone after the younger consumer. The epicenter of our target is between 14 and 19. There are 7 million high school athletes that are engaged in at least one of the sports in the U.S. marketplace. I mean, that is the population of Sweden. That's a huge opportunity.

Q: Does it ever get to be annoying to you to always be second to Nike?
Nilsson: No, I don't think so. We don't focus on any competitors in great detail. We need to do what we need to do. We focus on our brand core, where the consumer can enter our brand from many different doors. That is a big opportunity.

Q: In October, adidas America announced it was putting its headquarters on North Greeley Avenue for sale with plans to lease back the space from the buyer. Do you have a buyer? Does the company plan to stay in Portland?
Nilsson: We do not have a buyer that I know of, but a large national real estate firm is handling this. ... What I can tell you is that we are totally committed to Portland. We have stated that numerous times (Portland OREGONIAN, 2/12).

ESPN VP/Communications Mike Soltys said that the company "will revise its guidelines for on-air talent contracting with advertisers." ESPN's stance follows a report that "College GameDay" host Chris Fowler and analysts Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit "have endorsement deals with Nike" that ESPN had been unaware of. Soltys: "In coming weeks, the advertising guidelines are going to be reviewed" (McCarthy & Hiestand, USA TODAY, 2/16).

FIRST THING'S FIRST: The New Haven Open at Yale announced yesterday that it has signed First Niagara as presenting sponsor of the WTA tournament for at least three years. Starting with this year's event from Aug. 19-27, the event will be called the New Haven Open at Yale presented by First Niagara. A "new tournament logo will be unveiled" in the coming months. First Niagara joins cornerstone sponsors Aetna, American Express, Yale-New Haven Hospital and Yale Univ. as "major sponsors of the tournament" (, 2/15).

FASHION FORWARD: Knicks F Amar'e Stoudemire is "designing a women's fashion line with Rachel Roy" because he "wants his female fans to look sharp" at MSG. Stoudemire said, "We're trying to give the women something to wear when they go to sporting events. I want to add some flair to the hoodies and T-shirts." While Roy does the sketching, Stoudemire said, "She shows them to me and I give her the yea or nay" (N.Y. POST, 2/15). 

A FITTING TRIBUTE: Food City returns as the title sponsor for the spring NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway again this year, extending a partnership dating back to '92. However, this year's race "will be the Jeff Byrd 500 presented by Food City" in honor of Byrd, who "served as track president for 15 years before dying from cancer in October." BMS and Food City yesterday also announced a "three-year extension that will continue the company's Cup and Nationwide race sponsorships" (, 2/15).