Heat F LeBron James "has passed" Lakers G Kobe Bryant "to take over the No. 1 spot on the NBA's best-selling jersey list this season," according to Michael McCarthy of USA TODAY. This marks the "first time in seven years James has grabbed the top spot." Bryant's No. 24 jersey "has had a stranglehold on the No. 1 spot" since the beginning of the '08-09 season. James "damaged his image" with ESPN's "The Decision," but his image "could be rebounding based on sales of his No. 6 Heat jersey." In "another surprise," Celtics G Rajon Rondo "has cracked the Top 3 for the first time." Five Celtics players -- Rondo, F Paul Pierce, F Kevin Garnett, G Ray Allen and C Shaquille O'Neal -- rank in the Top 15 best-selling jerseys, marking the "first time five players from the same club have made the list." The list is "based on sales at NBAStore.com" since the start of the regular season (USATODAY.com, 4/13). CNBC's Darren Rovell notes Rondo ranked 15th last season, making it the "biggest jump of any player this season." The move is "remarkable given his popularity is still likely limited to the Boston area." Hornets G Chris Paul "saw the biggest drop, falling out of the top 15 after finishing 7th last year" (CNBC.com, 4/13).
TOP 15 PLAYERS IN JERSEY SALES AT NBASTORE.COM FOR '10-11 SEASON
Heat F LeBron James
Magic C Dwight Howard
Lakers G Kobe Bryant
Wizards G John Wall
Celtics G Rajon Rondo
Clippers F Blake Griffin
Knicks C Amar'e Stoudemire
Celtics C Shaquille O'Neal
Bulls G Derrick Rose
Celtics G Ray Allen
Heat G Dwyane Wade
Celtics F Paul Pierce
Thunder F Kevin Durant
Celtics F Kevin Garnett
Knicks F Carmelo Anthony
TEAMS: The Lakers ranked No. 1 on the list of the NBA's most popular team merchandise for the eighth time in the last nine seasons. The Celtics remain in the No. 2 spot, where they have been since the start of the '08-09 season. The Thunder entered the top 10 for the first time at No. 6 (NBA).
TOP 10 MOST POPULAR TEAM MERCHANDISE AT NBASTORE.COM FOR '10-11 SEASON
ISC today announced a multiyear partnership with Armored AutoGroup that will see the company’s STP brand become the title sponsor for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway on June 5 and the Nationwide Series race at Chicagoland Speedway on June 4. STP also will have track sponsorships at Darlington Raceway, Daytona Int’l Speedway, Michigan Int’l Speedway, Richmond Int’l Raceway and Talladega Superspeedway. ISC VP & CMO Daryl Wolfe in a statement said, "It is always great to see iconic sponsors like STP take a renewed interest in the sport, especially given STP's long and rich history in NASCAR and motorsports as a whole." STP today also announced its return as a sponsor of the No. 43 car. The brand will sponsor the car, driven by A.J. Allmendinger and owned by Richard Petty Motorsports, during the STP 400 at Kansas Speedway. Meanwhile, STP will be the primary sponsor of NHRA Funny Car driver Tony Pedregon at three races in ’11 (Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal). ESPN.com’s Ryan McGee notes STP has been “largely absent for 11 years in major American motorsports, concentrating more on local track sponsorships.” The deal with Allmendinger for the Kansas race will mark the first time the No. 43 car “has carried those colors since a two-race deal in 2006.” STP has “long been known for its connections to Indy racing greats,” including Mario Andretti, Parnelli Jones and Gordon Johncock. However, the relationship the company still has with Richard Petty is “especially prominent” (ESPN.com, 4/13).
MLS Galaxy MF David Beckham yesterday insisted that a Diet Pepsi ad in which he performs an "amazing feat with a ball on a California beach" is the "real thing," according to Daniel Girard of the TORONTO STAR. The 69-second spot shows Beckham "bending three consecutive balls with his bare foot from the sand and into garbage cans far in the distance." Beckham, when asked if the spot was real, said, "Of course. I spent five or six hours on the beach so I had a lot of time to practise." Girard notes the ad shows Beckham "juggling a soccer ball with his feet while holding a can of the soft drink." He is then "asked by the cameraperson if he can hit three garbage cans down towards the ocean with three balls, which are tossed into the shot." Beckham in the ad says hitting all three is "even easier" than one. After "setting down the pop can in the sand -- its label facing the camera -- he drills all three balls into the garbage cans while the cameraperson cheers wildly" (TORONTO STAR, 4/13). In Australia, Asher Moses noted pro athletes "have proved to be viral gold for big brands, which have become better and better at creating ad campaigns that appear to be organic viral hits."The Beckham spot is "reminiscent of the Ronaldinho 'Crossbar Challenge' ad the Brazilian footballer shot for Nike in 2005." Nike in '08 also produced a video in which Lakers G Kobe Bryant is "shown jumping over an Aston Martin." SBS soccer analyst Craig Foster said that the skills of players like Ronaldinho and Beckham "made the seemingly technically impossible appear possible, even if the clips were fake" (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 4/12).
Texas Bowl officials yesterday announced that Meineke Car Care Centers has agreed to become the title sponsor of the game at Reliant Stadium in a three-year deal, and the “true value of the agreement could emerge when the bowl system is reshuffled for the 2014 season,” according to David Barron of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. The Texas Bowl, which had been one of “only two among the 35 bowl games without a title sponsor," now will be known as the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas. ESPN Regional Television GM Pete Derzis, whose company owns the bowl, said that it will match teams from the Big 12 and Big Ten and will be “played after Christmas at a date to be determined.” Barron writes the “stability of a naming rights deal with Meineke, if the relationship prospers, will give the Houston game an extra boost when the Bowl Championship Series and the other bowl games renegotiate contracts” in ’13. Meineke is a subsidiary of Driven Brands, which also “owns Maaco, the title sponsor of ESPN Regional Television’s Las Vegas Bowl." Meineke for six years was the title sponsor of Charlotte's bowl game, and Driven Brands Chair Kenneth Walker said that the “cost of the sponsorship of the Charlotte and Houston games was relatively equal but the Houston game provides better long-term value” (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 4/13). Texas Bowl Exec Dir Heather Houston said, "This really guarantees the long-term sustainability of the bowl game. It's the key piece to the puzzle." In Houston, Richard Justice notes television ratings "have grown, and ticket sales in the city have soared" for the game. More than 30,000 tickets "were sold in Houston before the two teams were even announced last December" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 4/13).
Delta Air Lines has signed a deal making it an exclusive sponsor of the U.S. Freeskiing team through ‘14. The deal comes on the heels of the IOC’s move to add skiing halfpipe to the Olympic program for the ‘14 Sochi Games. Delta has been a sponsor of the US Ski & Snowboarding Association (USSA) since ‘07. The USSA created the U.S. Freeskiing team in January and began selling separate sponsorships for the team. In addition to Delta, High Sierra and The North Face have signed on to sponsor the team.
Heat F LeBron James has signed as the latest endorser of luxury watch manufacturer Audemars Piguet. James will represent the company globally and create a limited-edition watch, with the proceeds of any future auction of his timepiece going to his LeBron James Family Foundation. James joins other sports stars including F1 driver Michael Schumacher, FC Barcelona F Leo Messi and golfers Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy and Vijay Singh as endorsers for the company (Audemars Piguet).
THIS IS THE STORY OF CHAMPIONS: MARKETING magazine's Alex Brownsell reports MasterCard has "launched a marketing campaign to promote its sponsorship of the UEFA Champions League," ahead of the final match at Wembley Stadium on May 28. MasterCard is "rolling out an integrated campaign promising consumers 'priceless' experiences and content around the final, including an 'ultimate prize' of a pitch-side seat at the game." The company also is offering "historic pieces from some of the most memorable games from the tournament, plus items from current players." MasterCard has created "print, outdoor, digital and experiential ads," via McCann, London, while a dedicated microsite "also went live this week" (MARKETINGMAGAZINE.co.uk, 4/13).
WAYNE'S WORLD: MARKETING magazine's John Reynolds reported Ireland-based betting company Paddy Power is the "first brand to confirm that it is putting together a sponsorship proposal" for Manchester United F Wayne Rooney, who recently lost a deal with Coca-Cola. Paddy Power "considers an association with a high-profile sportsman as the next step in its development." Sources indicated that the company "had identified Rooney as a brand ambassador before the end of his partnership with Coke." In addition, PepsiCo reportedly has been "considering an approach for Rooney," though sources said that "any such deal was unlikely" (MARKETINGMAGAZINE.co.uk, 4/12).
BOOST OF ENERGY: Dover Int'l Speedway has signed 5-Hour Energy as the title sponsor of its Nationwide Series race in May. The race will be known as the 5-Hour Energy 200. The Michigan-based energy brand sponsored a '10 Nationwide Series race in St. Louis. It is in its fourth season as the primary sponsor of the Rusty Wallace Racing No. 66 Toyota driven by Steve Wallace(Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal). HOME ON THE RANGE: The MLB Rangers have been named the recipient of the '10 American Advertising Federation -- Ft. Worth Dateline Award, "more than three decades after winning the award for the first time." The award "honors a group or individual who has brought positive exposure to Fort Worth or Tarrant County the previous year" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 4/10).