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Volume 24 No. 155

Marketing and Sponsorship

Pepsi has “renewed its long-standing partnership” with MLS for four more years, but the company “has surrendered exclusive local rights to MLS teams,” according to Fred Dreier of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The deal, which was “negotiated by Soccer United Marketing and Pepsi, includes a renewal with the U.S. national team.” Industry sources “peg the value of the league deal in the low eight figures, but say the cumulative earning potential at the team level is greater.” Pepsi’s partnership with MLS dates to '96, the league’s inaugural season. Pepsi VP/Sports Marketing Jeff Dubiel said that Pepsi, Aquafina and Gatorade “will retain league exclusivity in the soft drink, bottled water and sports drink categories.” Dubiel added that the Pepsi brand will “also activate three new soccer campaigns this season: The Pepsi Football Club will promote 11 individual MLS and U.S. national team players in local markets; Pepsi will sponsor the July 14-Aug. 6 World Football Challenge tournament, which includes MLS teams and international clubs; and it will launch a yet-to-be-named grassroots campaign aimed at Hispanic fans.” Dubiel said that Pepsi is pursuing local rights with the Revolution, Fire, Crew, Real Salt Lake, DC United and Sporting KC, "which all have stadium deals with the beverage maker” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 4/11 issue).

Golfer Rory McIlroy "may have dramatically plummeted down the leaderboard" yesterday at The Masters after leading by four strokes heading into the final round, but his early success at the tournament "looks set to catapult him into golf's multimillion-earning elite," according to Kennedy & Ellis of the Irish INDEPENDENT. The "affable young star's coming of age on the sport's biggest stage will push him to the top of golf's pay league." McIlroy is worth an estimated US$11.5M "after a number of high-profile wins," and experts last night predicted that the 21-year-old "would soon be signing seven-figure endorsement deals." Pembroke Communications Managing Dir Michael O'Keeffe: "He's probably making €2m plus in sponsors and endorsements. ... When you add to the sponsorships and endorsements to bonuses he'll have from his sponsors, plus the revenue he's going to generate, this will be at least five million. He's become a global superstar. He is hugely marketable and hugely sought after." McIlroy held at least a share of the lead after each of the first three rounds at The Masters, and Kennedy & Ellis note that success "means he will be headhunted by sports firms -- and other companies which will be attracted to his clean-cut image -- to front their brand" (Irish INDEPENDENT, 4/11).

YOUR NAME IN LIGHTS: In Atlanta, Ken Sugiura wrote McIlroy was among several players in contention at The Masters who sported "obscure logos" on their hats and shirts. Jumeirah, an "international resort chain," is located on McIlroy's hat and shirt. He and Lee Westwood, among others, "wear an AP on their shirt sleeves, which stands for watchmaker Audemars Piguet." Also, K.J. Choi wore logos for mobile-service provider SK Telecom and apparel company SGF Superior on his hat and shirt, respectively, while Jason Day's hat supported Burner, "a model of TaylorMade golf clubs" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 4/10).

In St. Petersburg, Mark Albright reported Tampa-based restaurant chain Beef 'O' Brady's "has signed a 'seven figure' naming rights deal for another three years with the owners of a college bowl game played at Tropicana Field." Beef 'O' Brady's has title sponsored the bowl aired and owned by ESPN for the last two seasons. The most recent game in December drew 3.6 million viewers nationally on ESPN (, 4/7).

YOU'LL NEVER WALK ALONE: The FINANCIAL TIMES' Bounds & Blitz wrote Liverpool FC's partnership with LeBron James' LRMR Marketing is "just the latest twist in a dramatic 12 months for the club." There is "little doubt about their marketing potential as two of the strongest brands in sport," and the partnership "could be lucrative for both parties." Havas Sports & Entertainment Global President Lucien Boyer said that "theoretically it offered a profile" for Liverpool in the U.S. and James in Europe and the U.K. But he added, “It’s quite rare. It’s not a model that can be standardised" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 4/9).

KICKING & DREAMING: The N.Y. POST reported the MLS Red Bulls are "taking over part of the Adidas store" in Manhattan's SoHo neighborhood "for the remainder of the 2011 MLS season." The partnership "kicked off with the entire team, including stars Thierry Henry and Rafa Marques appearing at the store to sign autographs for hundreds of eager fans lining the streets" (N.Y. POST, 4/10).