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Volume 24 No. 132

Marketing and Sponsorship

Heat F Chris Bosh is “still waiting for entree into sports-marketing royalty," despite being part of the "most celebrated basketball alliance in a generation," according to Adam Beasley of the MIAMI HERALD. Aside from an existing deal with Nike, Bosh, "has yet to star in a major national advertising campaign.” His biggest endorsement deal since joining the Heat last summer "appears to be a Miami auto dealership once represented" by Heat G Dwyane Wade. Bosh: “I haven’t benefited yet. I just concentrate on playing basketball, and that will take care of everything else.” Heat teammate F LeBron James “appears to be retaining his position at the center of the NBA universe, even if backlash against his Cleveland exit hurt his popularity.” James “sits near the top when it comes to leveraging basketball performance into off-court riches.” He said, “I’ve got the No. 1-selling shoe in the market right now, and I’ve got the No. 1 selling-jersey. As far as endorsements and marketing, we’ve all skyrocketed.” Wade, who endorses Hublot watches and last week debuted his first line of Jordan Brand shoes, “entered the Three Kings era a top NBA celebrity, but his star power climbed a notch or two this season.” Wade said of his Fly Wade Air Jordan line, “It’s something I wanted my whole life. Hopefully everyone will stop buying all of LeBron’s shoes and pick up a couple of mine." Brand Affinity Technologies President & CEO Ryan Steelberg said that “unlike James and Wade, Bosh needs a championship to become an A-list player in the endorsement game.” Beasley notes Bosh’s “endorsement footprint hasn’t expanded with his fame,” and “perhaps more telling, Bosh himself isn’t courting the kind of exposure he once generated” while playing for the Raptors. Bosh: “At one point and time in my career, I was caught up in it, but it doesn’t matter now. If it comes, it comes. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t" (MIAMI HERALD, 5/9).

When Chrysler and Wieden + Kennedy needed a Detroit athlete to star in the automaker's newest commercial, Lions DT Ndamukong Suh's "rise from humble beginnings in Northeast Portland to big-time success ... personified the message the advertising agency wanted to convey: Hard work, character, gratitude," according to Allan Brettman of the Portland OREGONIAN. The 60-second spot, "Imported from Detroit -- Homecoming," debuted last month during the opening night of the NFL Draft and shows Suh driving a "Chrysler 300 sedan through Portland as images of his childhood and hometown flash across the screen." The commercial "features slate gray skies, a spitting wind and shots of steel, concrete and urban life," making Portland look "every bit as tough as Eminem's Detroit." Wieden + Kennedy Art Dir Jimm Lasser said that "of all the people in Detroit's professional sports universe, the defensive lineman was at the top of the wish list." Lasser: "He's a rising star on the sports team. Everything I'd read about him is that he was a humble guy. He fit the profile." Brettman notes the spot was "filmed over two days in mid-March," while post-production "lasted another five days." The "only bit of acting required of Suh came in the final shot as he emerged from his car in front of his actual childhood home." Lasser: "Real house, real school, real hometown. There was a truth and honesty to it." Wieden + Kennedy "expects to soon post a how-it-was-made video about the Suh commercial on the automaker's social media sites" (Portland OREGONIAN, 5/9).

DRIVE FOR SHOW: In Detroit, Kirkland Crawford noted later this month, Suh "will participate in the Gumball 3000 -- an international race on public roads around the world -- to help promote" Ubisoft's new video game, "Driver." The race begins May 26 in London, and Suh said, "One of my good friends who plays for the Colts is going to be in there with me, Cody Glenn, so we're going to go out there and enjoy it and split the driving duty" (, 5/8). Suh: "Once I first heard about this, I went crazy. So now that we're in a lockout and this race is over in Europe, I love to travel so I thought this would be a great thing to do if I could get over there. Then I got the chance to work with Ubisoft, and because of their 'Driver' game coming out they decided to sponsor my trip" (, 5/5).

In N.Y., Barrow, O'Keeffe & Samuel wrote Sheets energy strips could be a "new quick-energy trend on the horizon," thanks to "some serious superstar backing." Sheets, created by a company co-founded by Heat F LeBron James, also counts Knicks F Amar'e Stoudemire and Ravens RB Ray Rice as endorsers. Stoudemire and Rice also have "invested serious dough in Sheets, believing it could be the next big thing." Rice: "It was a great opportunity for me to build something outside of football. And it's not as big a time commitment as you think" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/8).

IF YOU FILL IT, THEY WILL COME: In St. Petersburg, Rick Stroud reported Rays 3B Evan Longoria "has a prominent role in a Pepsi Max commercial that starts airing" today. It is the second commercial in the Pepsi Max series playing off the movie "Field of Dreams," and also features former Rays manager Lou Piniella. In the spot, Longoria "emerges from the cornfield amid several Hall of Famers and heads to an empty Pepsi Max machine." He "begins a rally drumbeat that ends with the Pepsi Max vendor arriving with refills" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 5/7).

PRETTY IN PINK: In N.Y., Mark Feinsand notes to celebrate Mother's Day, several MLB players sported pink gear, including bats, wristbands and necklaces, but Yankees RF Nick Swisher "took it one step further, wearing specially made pink-and-black spikes by New Balance." However, the decision "cost him, as MLB had told players that only pink shoes made by Under Armour -- the league's footwear partner -- would be allowed" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 5/9). It was announced last week Swisher had signed an endorsement deal with New Balance (THE DAILY).

JUMPING BACK IN THE POOL: In this week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, Terry Lefton reports Michael Phelps is "back in the pool with Subway restaurants" more than a year ahead of the '12 London Games. Phelps "shot some ads in late April in and around the pool at Loyola University in Baltimore that could air as soon as next month." Fox NFL reporter Jay Glazer also appears in the spots (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 5/9 issue).