Sales of BYU basketball merchandise, particulary shirts and jerseys bearing star G Jimmer Fredette's No. 32, "have skyrocketed since BYU began enjoying one of the best seasons in their history, seriously challenging the tired old stereotype of Cougars fans as tightfisted cheapskates," according to a front-page piece by Michael Lewis of the SALT LAKE TRIBUNE. BYU plays Florida tonight in the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA men's basketball tournament, and Cole Evans, Manager at the Fanzz sports-apparel store in Provo, Utah, said that his shop is "on its third run of Fredette jerseys and other Cougar gear." Evans: "We can’t keep Jimmer in stock." Lewis notes the BYU bookstore is "doing even better." Dita Dekeyser, a clothing buyer for the campus bookstore, said that the BYU basketball team "sold 10 times more merchandise at the Marriott Center this season than they did last year and have sold more Fredette jerseys in the past three months than all the football jerseys they’ve sold in the past decade combined." Dekeyser noted that the university "has already prepared its orders for Final Four merchandise" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 3/24).
JIMMER-MANIA: In Utah, Dick Harmon writes under the header, "Cougars Draw National Media Spotlight." ESPN's Rick Reilly and Andy Katz, The Sporting News' Mike DeCourcy and reporters from the N.Y. Times, Newsday, CBS Sports and USA Today all are in New Orleans to cover tonight's BYU-Florida game. Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi said, "Jimmer is kind of a mythical figure in college basketball. It's good for the game because there aren't that many people in college basketball that people know and people embrace" (DESERET NEWS, 3/24).
Tennis player Serena Williams has filmed an ad for 2K Sports' "Top Spin 4" video game, but a video game blog reports the commercial "was actually rejected by the game's maker," according to Shari Weiss of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. Williams appears in the spot wearing a "black leotard and stockings" and is called the "world's sexiest tennis player." She "faces off against actress Rileah Vanderbilt, who is dressed in a similarly revealing outfit and called 'the world's sexiest tennis gamer.'" The ad is “cut with clips from the actual game, as if the two women were playing each other.” But “combined with grunting sounds … the hotness factor goes up several levels.” Vanderbilt uploaded the spot onto YouTube after 2K Sports did not release it, "and tweeted a link to it on Monday.” Williams Monday also mentioned on Twitter, "Stay tuned for a awesomely sexy video I am tweeting later." However, Williams “hasn't mentioned it since then” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 3/24). In Sydney, Stephanie Gardiner notes the video was reportedly "leaked" and 2K Sports officials have “distanced themselves from the ad, saying it was not their official campaign and was one of many marketing avenues they explored.” A “much more subdued ad for the game is also online, instead showing clips from the game itself” (SMH.com.au, 3/24).
EA Sports "has a deal with Major League Baseball in place" to create a new gaming franchise, which may be launched "sooner than anyone expected," according to sources cited by Jon Robinson of ESPN.com. The sources indicated that EA is "developing a new digital baseball game, complete with the MLB license, for Facebook." Not "much is known about the project at this time, but by looking at the other EA Sports Facebook games, one can assume it will be something along the lines of fantasy team building." MLB's exclusive video game license with 2K Sports ends in '12. The deal was signed in '05, ending "one of the most beloved sports gaming franchises of all time," EA Sports' "MVP Baseball." Robinson added with EA Sports and MLB "already working side-by-side on this new project, it gives me great hope that we'll see an eventual return of 'MVP Baseball' once 2K's exclusive deal runs out next year" (ESPN.com, 3/22).
2K Sports' exclusive video game contract with MLB expires in '12
IT'S "SHOW" TIME: In Boston, Garrett Martin reviewed 2K Sports' newest baseball game under the header, "'MLB 11: The Show' Knocks It Out Of The Park." Last year's iteration of the video game franchise "was the best baseball game of 2010, but it largely coasted on the excellent strides made by 'MLB 09' and thus felt somewhat unnecessary." This year's game "is a step forward, though, thanks in part to the new Pure Analog controls." It is a "simple control scheme that can be tough to understand," and it "also makes this already difficult series even harder." But Martin added, "The combination of new, immersive control schemes and 'The Show's' traditional in-depth simulation makes 'MLB 11' the first must-own baseball game since 'MLB 09'" (BOSTON HERALD, 3/14).
GE and the PGA Tour have signed a three-year marketing partnership that advances GE's healthymagination initiative, which will be showcased with on-site exhibits in the GE Pavilion at eight Tour stops this season. The GE Pavilion is debuting this week at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill Club & Lodge in Orlando. Per the deal, GE becomes the official medical diagnostic imaging equipment sponsor and official electronic medical records management solutions sponsor of the PGA Tour, Champions Tour and Nationwide Tour. Golfers Jim Furyk and Sean O'Hair have joined GE as ambassadors for the healthymagination program and will help activate the partnership with consumers and media (GE).
Mozo has deals with Greg Norman Collection, Ecco, TaylorMade and Titleist
SHARK TALES: In L.A., Diane Pucin profiles LPGA rookie Belen Mozo and notes her "golfing skills and outgoing personality attracted several sponsors." Greg Norman Collection Dir of Marketing Jennifer Hawkins noted Norman watched Mozo play "in a tournament in China last fall." Hawkins added, "Her talent and her passion. He was really impressed with how she went directly from college to the final stages of qualifying for the LPGA and the LET, back and forth from the U.S. to Europe." In addition to a deal with Greg Norman Collection, Mozo "also has deals with Ecco footwear, TaylorMade equipment and Titleist golf balls and gloves" (L.A. TIMES, 3/24).
GIVE ME A BEAT: Puma has appointed U.K. rap star Professor Green as its first social ambassador and will feature him in "press, retail and social media campaigns." Green, whose deal with Puma runs through '11, is the "latest in a string of high-profile individuals from the music world who have signed up to represent the brand." In January, Puma signed singer Kimberley Walsh "to front a six month press campaign for its BodyTrain toning footwear range." The brand "followed that in February with the signing of reggae icon Bob Marley's fashion-designer daughter, Cedella Marley, to design the Jamaican track and field team's kit" for the '12 London Olympics (BRANDREPUBLIC.com, 3/23).
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