Anheuser-Busch Friday kicked off its six-year sponsorship of the NFL "by pledging to spend millions more in a contest linked to this month's NFL Draft," according to E.J. Schultz of AD AGE. The "Best Round Ever" promotion will give a $10M grand prize to a fan "who can perfectly pick players selected in the first round" of the April 28 draft. A-B's deal with the NFL making Bud Light the league's official beer began Friday. The agreement "gives the brand the right to use NFL logos, including the highly recognizable shield," as well as the "collective use of all 32 team logos." Bud Light also is "seeking to drive consumers to its Facebook page with a sweepstakes in which fans can win a trip for two to the draft, while selling a commemorative NFL Draft-branded Bud Light aluminum bottle at bars." MillerCoors' Coors Light had the sponsorship since the '02 season, and the company "backed out because executives said they could no longer get a return on investment on the hefty price tag the league was seeking" (ADAGE.com, 4/1). A-B currently sponsors 28 of the 32 NFL teams, and A-B President David Peacock said the league sponsorship makes sense because it “allowed us to expand our NFL marketing about a third of industrial volume where we weren't leveraging it before because we were limited to 75-mile radius just around those teams that we sponsored." Peacock did not disclose terms of the agreement with the NFL, but he said there is “money that will come back overall in our NFL investment, and we have plans to re-invest if there isn't a season" ("Power Lunch," CNBC, 4/1).
Marketing and Sponsorship
LOCOG organizers today are beginning a US$403M “eBay-style online auction of outdoor advertising space as Olympic sponsors including Coca Cola, McDonalds and Adidas begin bidding for prime sites across the UK” for the '12 London Games, according to Mark Sweney of the GUARDIAN. Olympic organizers are “thought to be the first in the history of the Olympics to attempt to sell advertising space for a Games by online auction.” Sponsors and their agencies will be “hunched over keyboards across the globe” today to “secure the pick of some of the most sought after outdoor advertising sites in the UK.” About “4,000 packages of advertising will be up for sponsors and partners to buy -- covering everything from billboards and posters right next to event sites to what is termed as ‘spectaculars’ such as the Imax theatre on the Southbank as well as the London Underground." The auction will last until July 1. Sources indicated that up to US$161.4M in ad space “will go under the hammer during the auction period, with the unsold inventory then being put on sale to advertisers who are not Olympic partners.” For the first two weeks “only the 18 worldwide, tier one sponsors are being allowed to bid -- brands such as Coca-Cola, BP, Samsung, Lloyds TSB, BMW and Visa.” The “first lots on the block are prime ‘vicinity’ sites right by Olympic venues.” Tier two and tier three sponsors “will be allowed to participate after the third week, which will bring the total number of bidders to more than 40.” LOCOG Commercial Dir Chris Townsend said that “the ‘vast majority’ of what will be available to buy online will be ‘premium’ packages at a fixed price” (GUARDIAN, 4/4).
Oriflame has signed No. 1-ranked women's tennis player Caroline Wozniacki to a sponsorship agreement, where she will appear in Oriflame advertising and catalogues, endorsing the brand's cosmetics, nutritional wellness range and jewelry. The deal comes after the brand signed on as the official cosmetics of the WTA (Oriflame). SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Daniel Kaplan reports the Oriflame deal is the "most lucrative off-court agreement" for Wozniacki. The two-year deal is "believed to be worth in the low seven figures annually." The endorsement is "global, though Oriflame will likely use Wozniacki largely in Europe," as she is from Denmark. The deal "will move Wozniacki close to $10 million annually in earnings," with other endorsements including Rolex, adidas and Sony Ericsson. The deal also "suggests Oriflame will exercise its option to extend its WTA deal when it comes up this summer" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 4/4 issue).
WHAT WAS SERENA THINKING? In Boston, Kevin Paul Dupont wrote Serena Williams' appearance in a leaked ad for 2K Sports' "Top Spin 4" game was "sheer sexual exploitation." The spot was a "porn sports video crafted around Williams, who looked quite comfy in her not-made-for-tennis-or-prime-time tutu." Dupont: "Not hard to figure out what happened here. When Williams so willingly hung her rear end out in public, it got booted, leaving current and potential sponsors asking themselves the obvious question: What has gotten into this woman's head? ... It's a good bet Williams is far less appealing now to corporate sponsors" (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/3).
Patriots QB Tom Brady is listed as the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit Brady v. the NFL and by agreeing to “allow the use of his name, Brady will forever be remembered for not just touchdowns and rings, but also a controversial court case that may shake the NFL’s foundation,” according to Ian Rapoport of the BOSTON HERALD. What is still uncertain is if the lawsuit will “put Brady’s off-the-field celebrity at stake.” Branding and advertising execs said that Brady “will likely suffer a short-term hit to his public image thanks to his link to the lockout.” SportsCorp President Marc Ganis said, “His name being first and foremost on what may turn out to be a divisive action is not a positive for him.” Ganis: “You can see that he’s doing it for union solidarity. It’s a sacrifice.” Sports Business Group President David Carter: “Most people that would invest in Tom Brady, they don’t want to have anything to do with anything that reminds people that sports is big business.” But Rapoport writes if Brady “keeps winning on the field, he could escape unscathed eventually.” Marketing Evaluations Exec VP Henry Schafer, whose company produces Q Ratings, said, “My best guess is probably it’ll have minimal impact on his image and celebrity status. Nothing seems to really move the needle when it comes to him.” Rapoport notes Brady's Q Rating is “tied” with fellow plaintiff Colts QB Peyton Manning at 66, tops in the NFL. However, Brady’s positive Q score is half Manning’s. Brady’s endorsement score in the Davie Brown Index, which measures the athlete’s ability to influence the public, “puts him in the top 15 percent of all celebrities -- on par with John Madden, Brooke Shields and Bruce Willis -- but second to Manning, 80.28 to 72.84” (BOSTON HERALD, 4/4).
Indianapolis-based Strategic Marketing Affiliates serves as Butler's collegiate licensing agency, and COO John Mybeck said that the school's second straight appearance in the national championship game “has pushed sales this year ‘significantly ahead’ of last year,” when Butler made its first Final Four appearance. Merchandise sales also have "increased three-fold” from ’09. Mybeck said Butler's licensing revenue "is up 150 percent from last season, and it is four times what it was" in June ’08. The amount Butler receives “from each item increased Jan. 1 from 7.5 percent to 10 percent” (Renee Bruck, INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 4/2).
NOT GETTING THERE: SI.com’s Bruce Martin noted for the “second time in the last three races, NASCAR had another tire issue with the Goodyear Racing Tires” at yesterday's Sprint Cup Goody's Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway. The issue was “essentially the same problem that happened at Bristol Motor Speedway two weeks ago, as the tires were not ‘rubbering in’ to the race track, turning to rubber dust particles instead.” Martin wrote, "This is an issue that NASCAR must correct soon because there is too much at stake to be ruined by a faulty tire” (SI.com, 4/3). In Charlotte, Jim Utter notes Goodyear’s “premise on development is to construct tires that last a full fuel run,” but having tires “wear out before that was a new wrinkle that drivers didn’t much appreciate this weekend.” Utter: “It did make for a better race. The question is, will we see more of it?” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/4).
QWEST FOR A NEW NAME: In Seattle, Danny O’Neil noted with CenturyLink’s acquisition of Qwest, MLS Sounders FC sponsorship items “will bear a new logo beginning later this month.” The Qwest Field name and logos “aren't changing -- at least not right now.” However, the company's “sponsorship of the Sounders club -- such as messages on the video scoreboard -- will bear a new logo, one that likely could include the logos of both Qwest and CenturyLink.” CenturyLink Northwest Region President Brian Stading said the change of signage is a “transitional branding." O’Neil noted the term “probably means this isn't the last of the sponsorship changes” (SEATTLE TIMES, 4/2).
BRAND ANTHEM: In Detroit, Chrissie Thompson noted Buick last weekend debuted the “Your kind of luxury” campaign in the “latest step in General Motors’ attempt to define its upscale” brand. Buick Dir of Advertising & Promotions Craig Bierley said that the 60-second "Brand Anthem: What Matters to Buick" spot was slated to premiere Saturday during CBS’ pregame broadcast of the Final Four and will have run a “total of six or seven times by the time a men’s college basketball champion is crowned” tonight (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 4/2).