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Volume 24 No. 112

Marketing and Sponsorship

In an attempt to "sweeten its Olympic bid next month, ESPN is tossing around the idea of supplementing its TV rights offer with a marketing deal from its parent company," according to Ourand & Mickle of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. A deal "being considered would make Disney a member of The Olympic Partner (TOP) program," the IOC's "marquee sponsorship group, and grant the entertainment company licensing and intellectual property rights." Disney and ESPN execs "haven’t made a final decision about how such a deal would be structured, and it’s unlikely the company would pay the $100 million over four years that other TOP partners pay." But sources "believe a Disney sponsorship would distinguish it from its broadcast competitors during rights negotiations by marrying the Olympic rings with Disney’s immense global entertainment assets and familiar content popular with youth across the globe" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 5/16 issue).

WORKING TOGETHER: SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Tripp Mickle reports in a move that "could affect bidding for future Olympic TV rights," the USOC "has expanded its sales partnership with NBC Sports beyond the financial services sector to also include the home improvement category." The organization and network "will collaborate to sell a home improvement sponsorship and advertising package the same way they sold the online brokerage and banking categories to TD Ameritrade and Citi, respectively." The move "underscores the USOC’s belief that a joint advertising-sponsorship package appeals to potential sponsors and increases the likelihood that the USOC will partner with a network on sponsorship and advertising sales for the 2014 and 2016 Olympics." The approach is "welcome news to the major networks, as such a decision could affect how much networks are willing to pay for Olympic rights by making future advertising packages more lucrative for a network and easier to sell" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 5/16 issue).

The PGA Tour and Northern Trust on Friday announced a four-year extension for the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club in L.A. through '16. The Chicago-based bank's original five-year title sponsorship agreement expires after the '12 tournament (THE DAILY). CRAIN'S CHICAGO's Steve Daniels noted Northern Trust "came under withering criticism two years ago after it wined and dined clients and employees during the Northern Trust Open while it held federal bailout funds." There was media speculation in '09 that the bank "might relinquish its sponsorship" But Northern Trust Exec VP/Global Marketing Kelly Mannard in an e-mail said, “We've always been proud to sponsor the Northern Trust Open, an event that generates $20 million annually for the Los Angeles economy and raises more than $1 million for charity annually. Sponsorship serves a strong business purpose as well, by elevating our global brand and affording a unique opportunity to interact with clients and prospective clients" (, 5/13). Northern Trust Open Exec Dir Jerry West on Friday said the bank's leadership has helped "re-establish the tournament as a major sporting event in Los Angeles" (, 5/13).

The Panthers took QB Cam Newton with the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft, and he instantly became the city of Charlotte's “first nationally marketable star in a team sport since the early '90s,” according to Joseph Person of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. Newton left the Univ. of Florida “under a cloud of controversy” and was “at the center of a NCAA investigation last fall” while winning the Heisman Trophy at Auburn Univ. But the allegations “did not scare off” Under Armour, which signed Newton to the "largest endorsement deal for an NFL rookie." Newton also reportedly is "expected to sign with GMC to endorse the automaker's SUVs and trucks.” IMG’s Carlos Fleming is “advising Newton on his endorsement deals.” UA has a sponsorship deal with Auburn, and UA Senior VP/Sports Marketing Matt Mirchin said, "We felt very comfortable with the type of people that Cam and his family are.” Person notes UA “plans to roll out its first TV commercials in August" featuring Newton with Patriots QB Tom Brady, swimmer Michael Phelps and skier Lindsey Vonn. The company will “follow that with a print ad picturing Newton next fall.” Mirchin said that Newton's UA deal “included the personal conduct clause that is standard in such contracts, but there was nothing spelled out in the event Newton is sanctioned retroactively.” Mirchin: "He's just a good kid. He doesn't drink, doesn't smoke. He doesn't run around." Marketing consultant Gary Stevenson said, "If I was advising Cam Newton, I'd tell him to maybe do one or two indigenous endorsements with a shoe deal or something like that. But other than that, I'd focus on being the best quarterback I could be and trying not to divert any attention away.” He added, "I'd say focus on being a great player first. You don't need other distractions. There's going to be plenty of other distractions being the No. 1 draft pick, all the pressure that's on you in Carolina because they think he's the savior. Just focus on playing the game" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 5/15).

The NBA has teamed with the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network and the Ad Council to launch a series of PSAs featuring Suns Fs Grant Hill and Jared Dudley designed to address the use of anti-gay language among teens. The campaign includes new TV, radio, print and Web ads created pro bono by ArnoldNYC. The TV spot launched during yesterday's Heat-Bulls Eastern Conference Finals Game One on TNT. The Ad Council is distributing the TV PSA to more than 1,600 stations nationwide this week, and the ad will air during donated time. The NBA will support the spot across its  broadcast partners -- ABC, ESPN and TNT -- as well as on NBA TV and In addition, the league will support the campaign through social media (NBA). AD AGE’s Karen Egolf noted the campaign “tells teens that it connects using words such as ‘gay’ in a negative way can have serious consequences, showing that using such terms to say something is dumb or stupid is not acceptable on the basketball court or anywhere else.” The PSAs direct fans to for more information and “to take a pledge against using anti-LGBT language” (, 5/13). In Boston, Gary Washburn wrote the campaign is “one of the league’s responses” to Lakers G Kobe Bryant “using a gay slur as an insult toward official Bennie Adams during a game last month” (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/15). Meanwhile, Suns President & CEO Rick Welts yesterday revealed publicly that he is gay.