The MLS Red Bulls have signed a one-year partnership with Kia Motors America to make the automaker the official automobile of the team and Red Bull Arena. An industry source valued the deal in the low-to-mid six figures. It is the first automobile sponsor for the team under the Red Bull brand. The partnership will grant Kia intellectual property rights for the team and the arena, as well as the Red Bulls youth academy and training program. Kia will receive branding on player bench areas, on stadium signage, in hospitality areas and at the team’s fan zone (Fred Dreier, SportsBusiness Journal).
GUERRILLA MASK: MARKETING magazine’s Nicola Clark notes Olympic sponsors “have been warned to brace themselves for a barrage of online guerrilla marketing ahead” of the ’12 London Games. LOCOG has “grappled with restrictions to protect sponsors, such as limits on outdoor and TV advertising, but experts say the opportunity for brands to hijack the Olympics online remains ‘huge.’” With LOCOG “facing a challenge to impose restrictions on digital marketing, official sponsors are being warned they can expect 'open season' when it comes to making the most of the Olympics online” (MARKETINGMAGAZINE.co.uk, 5/24). Meanwhile, MARKETING WEEK’s Rosie Baker noted Westfield Stratford City shopping center is the “gateway to the London Olympic Park and more than 70% of the Olympic visitors are expected to access the Games via the mall.” Mall owner Westfield said it wants to be a “good neighbour” to LOCOG. But the company added that non-sponsor brands will be “able to advertise within its centre during the Games” (MARKETINGWEEK.co.uk, 5/23).
GAME ON: The NBA yesterday formally announced multiyear extensions of its deals with Take-Two Interactive Software and Electronic Arts to develop, publish and distribute licensed video games. The agreements cover simulation and arcade-style games on consoles, online and mobile platforms. 2K Sports and EA Sports each will have the rights to use NBA teams and players (NBA). SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL’s Eric Fisher notes for EA, the extension "gives the company sufficient runway to recoup a multimillion-dollar investment it has made in retooling its troubled NBA simulation game franchise, most recently called 'NBA Elite.'" EA Sports "will take another year off from releasing a simulation game and put out a new title in that category in the fall of 2012" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 5/23 issue).
FOLLOW ME: EA Sports has surpassed 10 million combined fans on Facebook for its main brand page on the social network and those for its individual games. The sum is comparable to many major sports properties, and the 4 million Facebook fans held by EA Sports' "FIFA" title by itself would rank 14th in the world among most-followed teams. To commemorate the milestone, EA Sports is offering a 30% discount and free shipping on all its games to those who "like" their Facebook page (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).
MARKETING A LEGEND: DAILY VARIETY’s Tom Lowry noted IMG “has won the licensing and endorsement rights for legendary UCLA hoops coach John Wooden and will begin developing TV, film and other media projects around the coach and his ‘Pyramid of Success’ formula.” IMG yesterday said that “its licensing unit was selected by the Wooden family to represent the coach's name, voice, likeness, image and signature” (VARIETY.com, 5/23).