The NFL Tailgate Party ahead of Super Bowl XLV “turned into chaos” as the league was focused on straightening out the seating snafu, and many sponsors were “forced to wait in line for as long as 2 1/2 hours to get into the tailgate party and were not pleased with the shabby way they were treated,” according to league sources cited by Paul Domowitch of the PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS. One source said, "It was a disaster from the start, with no signs or people directing people to the (VIP) parking lot or the drop-off area. The seating issue became all encompassing. Anyone in an authoritative position was brought inside to help calm people who lost their seats. That took people away from outside the perimeter.” A league source said that some of the companies “whose executives had to wait in those long lines, including FedEx and Castrol Motor Oil, have threatened to pull out as Super Bowl sponsors next year.” The league has “spent much of the last 2 weeks running damage control with those companies.” Domowitch notes sponsors “weren't the only ones ticked off at the way they were treated in Dallas” as league owners and execs also were affected. Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones in the bid to host Super Bowl XLV offered “several hours of free use of a limousine” for NFL owners. But when Saints co-Owner & Exec VP Rita Benson LeBlanc "called from the airport for her free limo, she was informed that the perks were only for each team's principal owner.” A source said that Tom Benson “was furious with Jones.” Many league execs also “were upset when they and their families were told at the last minute that they had to give up their Super Bowl seats and watch the game on television in a tent outside the stadium as the league gave their seats to many of the displaced 1,200” (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 2/18).
Marketing and Sponsorship
The LPGA is "breaking its first brand campaign in four years to try and lure new fans," according to Rich Thomaselli of AD AGE. The tour "barely did any advertising" from '05-09 under then Commissioner Carolyn Bivens, but it is now "looking to reinvent itself with a campaign." LPGA CMO Jon Podany said, "I really think it's two things at play here. One is to be able to showcase our players better, and two is to communicate how we're different. We felt there were some great things about our players and we needed to tell that story better." Thomaselli reported four ads via Sacred Cow, Austin, will break "this weekend on The Golf Channel's coverage of the season-opening Honda LPGA Thailand." The first ad features Natalie Gulbis "and her unique autograph experiences," while I.K. Kim is shown in the second ad. Podany said, "What we're getting at here is approachability. Our golfers have a giving nature, but we don't want to lose sight of the competitiveness of the LPGA" (ADAGE.com, 2/17).
PRESSEL IN FOR FOUNDERS CUP: Golfer Morgan Pressel Thursday formally committed to playing the March 18-20 RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup. Cristie Kerr has yet to commit but said that she "approves of the newest format and supports the event" (THEGOLFCHANNEL.com, 2/17). SI's Dottie Pepper notes Pressel, Kerr and Suzann Pettersen "have publicly criticized" LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan for the tournament, but "reactions like this are absurd." Pepper: "If you don't want to play, fine. Whan made it clear that no one was obligated nor would a player be chastised for passing. ... The whining has made those players look selfish and neglectful of their endorsers, who value the early-season domestic exposure" (SI, 2/21 issue).
Rawlings is "launching a portfolio of high-end shirts, shorts and leggings that currently is missing from the venerable sports equipment company's clothing lineup," according to Lisa Brown of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. With the new clothing, Rawlings will "compete with Nike and Under Armour in the lucrative market of high-end performance apparel." Rawlings already offered "some 'base layer' apparel -- clothing worn against the skin, such as T-shirts -- but the company realized it was missing an opportunity in clothing designed to enhance performance, with features such as mesh material on shirts' sides for breathability." Brown notes the "aggressive move highlights the priority that Rawlings' owner, New York-based Jarden Corp., has put on developing new products and leveraging the Rawlings brand in new markets." The company would not disclose its spend "on the new apparel launch, only saying it's investing heavily in new point-of-sale displays at retailers, and in-store and online sweepstakes to drive customer traffic." Jarden Team Sports Senior Dir of Apparel Matt Bensing: "This is the first time we have invested this amount of money in a new market for Rawlings apparel." Since acquiring Rawlings in '07, Jarden has "beefed up the subsidiary's new product launches, including a new Rawlings S100 batting helmet in 2009." The brand last month "launched new high-end clothing aimed for the baseball market," and Rawlings indicated that "initial sales have been strong" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 2/18).