The cover athlete for EA Sports' "Madden NFL 12" video game will be announced today on ESPN2's "SportsNation," and EA Sports President Peter Moore yesterday in a chat with fans ahead of the announcement said having fans vote for the cover athlete this year was "certainly a great experiment and we're delighted that the community got involved." When asked if the fan vote will be "just a special one year thing," Moore said, "I'll leave it to our very capable marketing team in Florida, I don't see why we couldn't do this again next year." Moore added EA "couldn't be more delighted" with Eagles QB Michael Vick and Browns RB Peyton Hillis as the finalists. Moore: "We have Vick, the comeback player of the year. He gave Brady a run for the money at MVP. And for Hillis, we couldn't be more delighted for Cleveland and they couldn't be more happy to have one of their own fighting for the cover. We've been fascinated to see the fan reaction. We'll be very comfortable with whatever decision they make." Moore added that Hillis being on the cover would not hurt game sales. Moore: "I think the reason Peyton is in the final is that fans love the underdog. Our research has told us that whoever is on the cover does not hurt sales." Meanwhile, Moore noted EA has "announced that if there is no season that we expect Madden sales to go down." But he added, "That's not to say that other sales of other games will go up. That is the one place that fans could get their NFL fix, is by playing Madden" (ESPN.com, 4/26).
Marketing and Sponsorship
Less than six months after acquiring a major stake in Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM), Medallion Financial is launching a sports group that will sell inventory and advertising for RPM, more than 160 minor league baseball teams and more than 10,000 taxicabs. Medallion is a taxicab lending and advertising company. Medallion President Andy Murstein said the company is focused on creating an advertising conglomerate that offers marketers exposure across a variety of sports and traditional advertising mediums. Medallion Sports Media already closed a deal with ABC that put advertising for its show "No Ordinary Family" in 40 parks nationwide. It also is in conversations with a company to advertise on minor league ballpark foul polls, Murstein said. He envisions bundling baseball, NASCAR and taxi inventory together in the future. Murstein: "One client now is looking at a primary sponsorship on AJ (Allmendinger's) car for two races and doing a whole campaign around that for the month of September on taxis in that market and two minor league baseball parks in that market." Minor League Baseball does not have an exclusive sales agency, but a spokesman from the league office confirmed that it has an informal relationship with Medallion that allows the company to bring in advertisers for its 160 teams. RPM yesterday announced a one-race agreement with VF-owned Nautica for this weekend's Sprint Cup race at Richmond Int’l Raceway.
Wells Fargo will be “ramping up its name recognition and its client entertainment” at this year's PGA Tour stop at Quail Hollow Club “after two years of keeping its brand off the former Wachovia Championship,” according to a front-page piece by Rick Rothacker of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. The bank will “host two parties for clients featuring pro golfers as the main draw and sponsor forums that cater to female and minority customers.” It also will “invite more than 3,000 customers and prospects to the four-day competition.” Wells Fargo is “paying around $6.5 million annually to be the event's title sponsor under an agreement signed in spring 2008 and running through 2014” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/27). Wells Fargo Championship Tournament Dir Kym Hougham “expects a sellout" for next week's tournament. In Charlotte, Erik Spanberg noted “individual tickets are sold out for the second and third rounds already and fewer than 200 weekly ticket books remain.” Tournament officials by next week “anticipate the first and final rounds will also sell out.” The tournament’s capacity is 35,000 people per day. Tiger Woods yesterday announced he will not play in the tournament, but “five of the top 10 players will" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 4/26).
In India, Sharma & Rao reported Nike “has renewed its contract with the Board of Control for Cricket in India to be the official kit sponsor of the Indian cricket team and the new deal is said to be pegged at approximately” US$60.6M. Nike will also “be the official licencee for apparel merchandise for the Indian team” (TIMES OF INDIA, 4/26).
SWITCHING IT UP: Richard Petty Motorsports driver AJ Allmendinger for this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal presents the Matthew and Daniel Hansen 400 at Richmond Int'l Raceway “will have primary sponsorship from Nautica, an apparel company part of VF Corporation.” Allmendinger, whose car is sponsored by Best Buy “for the majority of races, will have the Nautica logo on the hood of his car” (SCENEDAILY.com, 4/26).
RACING SCHOOL: In Miami, Michael Vasquez noted the Univ. of Miami was the “declared winner in NASCAR’s 12-school collegiate sports-marketing competition.” Students from the participating schools “worked through case studies and organized a promotional NASCAR viewing party," and these activities were factors "in the final ranking.” UM’s winning team “receives a free VIP trip to a NASCAR event,” and the five students will attend next month’s All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Oklahoma State Univ. finished second and Coastal Carolina Univ. came in third (MIAMI HERALD, 4/23).
DOUBLE OR NOTHING: MARKETING magazine’s Sarah Shearman reports Heineken “has launched StarPlayer, a dual-screen football game, as part of its UEFA Champions League sponsorship that fans can play while watching” games on TV. The free StarPlayer game, created by AKQA, can be “played on the Heineken Facebook page or downloaded from the App Store” starting today. Heineken “plans to make it available across multiple platforms.” Heineken reports that “75% of TV viewers are ‘dual-screening’ and 72% watch the UCL at home alone” (MARKETINGMAGAZINE.co.uk, 4/27).
HEALTHY LIVING: In California, Landon Hall noted former soccer player Mia Hamm is “lending her name to a Dannon promotion designed to help inform mothers” about the “right choices for their children’s diet.” Dannon on Monday launched the “Live Your Active Culture” campaign (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 4/25).