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Volume 24 No. 115

Marketing and Sponsorship

Frontier Airlines is "making its first move onto the national sports sponsorship scene by signing an official partnership with the LPGA," according to Michael Smith of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The Denver-based low-fare carrier has been "active with team deals," but this "new two-year contract to become the official airline of the LPGA marks Frontier’s first leap into a national property." Frontier’s deal will be a "combination of cash, activation spending and business trade." The LPGA "will drive as much business toward Frontier as it can with the help of discounted fares." Frontier is "considering options for TV advertising on the LPGA’s media partner, Golf Channel, but those likely won’t start until 2012." The airline will have a "prominent ad package on, where it will promote fare specials with click-throughs to" Frontier also "bought a hospitality package and will have the ability to activate on-site at several tournaments over the next two years." Financial terms were not available, but the LPGA’s official partnerships "range from the mid-six figures into seven figures, depending on the assets in the package" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 5/2 issue).

Dunkin' Donuts has signed several members of the Red Sox to launch the new "What Are You Drinkin'?" campaign that promotes the QSR's iced coffee. The campaign marks the first time four Red Sox players and a manager -- DH David Ortiz, 2B Dustin Pedroia, LF Carl Crawford, 1B Adrian Gonzalez and Terry Francona -- will star in a series of Dunkin' Donuts TV commercials and ads. The effort, via Hill Holliday, also includes radio and out-of-home activation. It will run throughout the MLB season (Dunkin' Donuts). In Boston, Thomas Grillo reports the campaign, a $1M effort, "marks the first time that so many Sox stars will appear in a series of Dunkin’ Donuts TV commercials and the first time Gonzalez and Crawford have lent their names to local advertisers." At Fenway Park yesterday, 100 fans "won tickets to a special 'What Are You Drinkin’ Fenway?' lunch through radio and Twitter promotions" (BOSTON HERALD, 5/3).

PPR yesterday announced a $608M “takeover of California sportswear brand Volcom Inc., as the French luxury and retail group strives to bulk up its sports division around its Puma label,” according to Christina Passariello of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The “potential for synergies between PPR's Puma athletic wear brand and Volcom is high.” The “majority of Puma's business is shoes,” and Volcom -- which sells skateboarding, snowboarding and surfing apparel -- “only has a small footwear business.” PPR plans on “amping up Volcom's distribution, in part by opening stores” and the company “expects Volcom to tap into Puma's Asian manufacturing." PPR Deputy CEO & CFO Jean-Francois Palus said that with the acquisition of Volcom, PPR “expects its sports lifestyle division -- which will also comprise Puma and the Cobra golf brand -- to generate” US$7.4B in sales by ’15. The sports lifestyle division in ’10 had about US$4B in sales; Volcom had sales of $323M. PPR Chair & CEO Francois-Henri Pinault emphasized that no future target for acquisition "would be bigger than Puma, limiting the potential for a major purchase” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/3). Pinault yesterday said that Volcom “would maintain its independence within the PPR group, whose aim would be to add value by improving sourcing and boosting Volcom’s international expansion plans rather than co-opting the brand.” The FINANCIAL TIMES’ Stanley Pignal notes the acquisition “is expected to close in the third quarter” (FINANCIAL TIMES, 5/3). Pinault said Volcom was “arguably one of the most desirable global action-sports brands.” Wall Street Strategies analyst Brian Sozzi said that the deal “could be viewed as a slight to surfwear giant Quiksilver Inc. of Huntington Beach, which was previously rumored to be a PPR target.” Sozzi: “The fact it has went the direction of Volcom underscores (Quiksilver’s) poorly situated balance sheet, among intangible factors” (L.A. TIMES, 5/3).

Few athletes are "as known for their on- and off-court intelligence, offbeat sense of humour and business savvy" as Suns G Steve Nash, who is "multi-tasking ... as a respected marketer, filmmaker, branding strategist and venture capitalist," according to Hollie Shaw of the NATIONAL POST. The public was introduced to Nash's advertising work "when he wrote, produced and directed his own commercials for Vitaminwater and Nike through Meathawk Productions, a company he owns with his cousin, Canadian filmmaker Ezra Holland." Nash and Holland "have also collaborated on ads" for EA Sports, Toyota, B.C. Hydro" and China-based footwear and apparel company Luyou, whom Nash "signed with in January after 15 years as a Nike spokesman." Nash: "I realized that many of the opportunities to make films were in advertising. Creating compelling and creative content for different brands is a way to express yourself and develop your skills as a filmmaker or as a writer. As you get a bit more accustomed to the game of advertising and marketing, the whole thing becomes intertwined." Nash added as a spokesperson he wants to "be involved with products or people that I am excited about (and) have a vested interest in a company." Nash: "As far as writing and directing and producing, if they have an openness and willingness to allow us to get involved and create some things, then definitely that is going to play a big part in whether I sign with a company." Execs in Nash's latest venture, Montreal-based QSR Liquid Nutrition, "in which he has become an equity partner, are using his production company for marketing and viral ads." Liquid Nutrition Group Inc. President Glenn Young said that the company "is also in talks with another Nash venture, Tempe, Ariz.-based vitamin company OneBodé, about creating a line of private-label multivitamins" (NATIONAL POST, 4/30).

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen has signed on as a celebrity "Slambassador" to GameSlam, a startup social sports prediction game. Guillen will occasionally participate in the game, offer strategy tips and promote Game Time Live Sports Services LLC, the Illinois-based makers of GameSlam. The game itself operates somewhat similarly to Pre Play Sports and other prediction contests that function as sort of a second-screen companion to live games, with users accumulating points based on their ability to guess the outcomes of specific upcoming plays. GameSlam, however, is seeking to differentiate itself with a more console-like, graphical game experience, a deal with Stats LLC for the real-time data feeds, and a variety of custom leagues, challenges and social media tools.