Marketing and Sponsorship
Clippers F Blake Griffin famously jumped over a Kia Optima on his way to winning the NBA's Sprite Slam Dunk Contest in February, and today he was "named the pitchman for Kia Motors,” according to Chris Woodyard of USA TODAY. Kia, which is an NBA sponsor and “already had a partnership” with the Clippers, was “more than happy to supply the Optima” Griffin used during the dunk contest. The car company "quickly turned" the dunk “into print and TV ads.” Today’s announcement “formalizes Griffin’s role with Kia.” Kia Motors America VP/Marketing & Communications Michael Sprague said that “just as Griffin is being recognized as a rising star,” he hopes Kia is “seen the same way.” Sports Business Group Principal David Carter said Griffin’s stunt gave Kia “such a unique way to break through the clutter.” Strata President & CEO John Shelton said that Griffin “brings appeal with the youthful audience that Kia wants to reach, often people buying their first car.” Sprague: “I don’t think any of us (predicted) how great it would turn out to be” (USA TODAY, 6/22). Excel Sports Management, which represents Griffin, indicated immediately following the dunk contest that it was talking with Kia about expanding its partnership with the Rookie of the Year beyond just the one-time event (THE DAILY).
Red Bull Racing is “pursuing investors, drivers and sponsors in order to keep the doors open to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series operation after the 2011 season,” according to Bob Pockrass of SCENEDAILY.com. Red Bull on Monday announced it is “seeking investors to purchase and operate the two-car operation.” That “sounds like a difficult proposition” with just eight months before the '12 season is scheduled to begin, but team VP & GM Jay Frye said that “it’s doable.” Frye: “This process has just started, and there has been a lot of inquiries based on what happened [Monday], in addition to some other people we already were talking to.” Frye said that whether Red Bull “could have a limited role as a part-owner or sponsor is still to be determined.” He said that he “would like to be in serious negotiations with investors within 45 days,” and that the investors “could be connected to companies that are potential sponsors.” He also “didn’t rule out a one-year financing deal that would give the organization more time to find permanent sponsors and investors.” Frye said that “all options are being considered, such as being a satellite organization of a current four-team Cup organization.” Red Bull does not have a driver signed for next year, and Frye “believes he must find the investors before trying to lure drivers and then sponsors.” Frye said that “longtime friend” Mark Martin “is not currently among the potential investors” (SCENEDAILY.com, 6/21).
KEEPING THE DRIVE ALIVE: In Daytona Beach, Godwin Kelly reports if Frye “can't find someone to buy the team, he may try to piece enough sponsorship money together to keep the organization active through 2012.” Frye: "If you have the right investors, that could be the conduit to getting it done" (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 6/22). ESPN.com's Terry Blount said, "We’re talking about some really big-money players here, from what I’ve heard from the Red Bull people, and I can tell you they really are encouraged about this. They believe this is going to get done. It’s not as gloomy as it appears on the surface” ("NASCAR Now," ESPN2, 6/21). Frye added, “We're very keen and encouraged about the future” (AP, 6/21).
CHALLENGES LIE AHEAD: CBSSPORTS.com’s Pete Pistone wrote Frye is a “respected figure in the NASCAR world and the organization’s lack of success has not been for lack of trying.” Should Frye be able to "pull off the hunt for new money and keep the team’s doors open, he’ll next have the challenge of finding sponsors for the two-car stable." Red Bull’s involvement “was the unique combination of a company that both owned and sponsored the team” (CBSSPORTS.com, 6/21). ESPN.com’s Blount wrote it is “never easy when a primary sponsor decides it’s no longer in the best interest of the company to have its logo on your car.” In the case of Red Bull Racing, it is “much worse” because it is the sponsor of the team. Red Bull’s exit is “a stab in the heart, and everyone in NASCAR feels it.” Blount: "Just when things were looking up, a quality organization is in jeopardy. ... If Red Bull can walk away, what else could happen?” (ESPN.com, 6/21).
BEHIND THE EIGHT BALL: In Virginia, Dustin Long notes NASCAR teams have been "searching for sponsorship since the beginning of the year." Long: "While things are a bit better than previous years, it's still a tight market and teams aren't getting what they used to for sponsorship. ... Can Frye find enough to be competitive next year or will he have to accept whatever low-paying sponsors come [his] way and piece together next year?" (HAMPTONROADS.com, 6/21). SPORTING NEWS' Matt Crossman writes, "Give Frye credit for putting a brave face on the situation. But he is a drowning man holding an anchor. Finding a sponsor is hard. Finding an owner is hard. Finding both, and in enough time to be ready for next season? Virtually impossible" (SPORTING NEWS TODAY, 6/22).
Yankees SS Derek Jeter is currently on the DL just six hits shy of the 3,000 mark, but there will be a "vast and lucrative universe of celebrity memorabilia and collectibles" once he reaches the milestone, according to a front-page piece by Richard Sandomir of the N.Y. TIMES. MLB plans to have a groundskeeper "tote a shovel and bucket onto the field to scoop five gallons of dirt from the batter’s box and shortstop’s patch” from the game Jeter collects his 3,000th hit. Steiner Sports, which has a "memorabilia partnership with the Yankees and a marketing deal with Jeter," plans to include the dirt in items such as keychains, framed pictures and bats. Steiner Sports Chair Brandon Steiner: “That bucket of dirt will go a long way.” Sandomir notes Modell’s Sporting Goods’ Times Square location “will stay open past its midnight or 1 a.m. closing time as long as fans keep shopping on the day or night of the accomplishment.” Warehouses of major MLB licensees, including Majestic and New Era, are ready to “deliver their Jeter material to retailers.” Modell’s distribution center in the Bronx is preparing to “ship to its 94 New York and New Jersey stores” as well. MLB Senior VP/Licensing Howard Smith said, “Other than the home run race in 1998, this is the most significant business we’ve done for a hot market for a player.” However, Sandomir notes the Jeter hot market "will test his sky-high popularity during a season in which he is batting .260." Meanwhile, Jeter will “get a cut of some" of the royalties from sales of the licensed products. The selling of Jeter’s 3,000th hit “actually has its own campaign name: ‘DJ 3K,’ and a logo that will appear on much of the merchandise capitalizing on his achievement” (N.Y. TIMES, 6/22).
Venus Williams won her second-round match today at Wimbledon against Kimiko Date-Krumm, and she wore the same outfit that drew a mixed reaction following her first-round match Monday, but she said she is "trending towards simplicity" with the look, according to Imogen Fox of the GUARDIAN. Some question whether the "mini lace jumpsuit ... actually qualifies as simple but to sweat the details would be to miss the point." Williams has "already aced the style victory," as the outfit "managed to shoehorn several different trends into one over-designed piece of tennis kit." Fox: "She's the undisputed fashion guru of SW19 and that makes her a champ, whatever else Wimbledon has in store for her this fortnight" (GUARDIAN, 6/22). TENNIS.com's Jonathan Scott noted the response to Williams' "immaculate, flowing one-piece ... replete with gold hot pants” has been "mixed." The “loose, super-short toga all but gives her the appearance of the goddess for whom she is named.” Scott wrote, “It's a great getup from the five-time champ. So apropos with the V neck, of course, and the cut-out sleeves and detailed material draping her lithe form are winsome, as are the golden belt and zipper. It's a much-needed and yet still-classy departure from all the yawn-inducing lawn attire gracing the courts this fortnight” (TENNIS.com, 6/20). Venus on Monday said, "Jumpers are very now, as is lace. The shoulders have a lot of draping, also in the moment. It's a trendy dress. I'm really into zippers, so it has a focal point of a zipper in the front" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/21).
THE NEW PUFFY SHIRT: ESPN's Dick Enberg and Chris Evert discussed Williams' outfit prior to today's match. Enberg noted Evert was wearing a shirt with ruffles and asked, "Is that because Venus Williams has got a different looking outfit for this championship?” Evert smiled as she touched her V-neck shirt and said, “It will be interesting to see if she wears her ‘toga’ out there.” Enberg: “You know, she says that zippers are ‘now,’ and I thought about that as I dressed today. I’ve been in the ‘now’ for a long time.” Enberg later said of Williams' attire, "One scribe here in London described it as it looked as if she tore the curtains off her windows in her Florida home and put them on her back.” Evert: “I hope she doesn’t hear that.” Evert noted Williams has taken fashion courses, and she and her sister Serena are "very much aware of what they’re wearing and how they’re looking, which adds a little spice to the game” ("Wimbledon," ESPN2, 6/22).
IT RUNS IN THE FAMILY: In London, Satherley & Paxman wrote Venus and Serena Williams “have so much in common” as they both “have terrible fashion sense.” Venus' “white onesie was so short you could clearly see the golden hotpants she was wearing underneath every time she bent forwards during the match.” The outfit from Venus' own clothing line, EleVen, also had a “curiously baggy, and very unflattering top-half, which made her chest look saggy as she ran around the court” (London DAILY MAIL, 6/21). Meanwhile, Serena said her inspiration for the outfit she wore yesterday for her first-round match against Aravane Rezai "was to be classic.” She said, “I kind of took a classic line and brought it to tennis with the cardigan as well as the dress, how it has just a simple line up the center and I added godets in the front just to add a little bit of flow. It reminded me of something like you would see in the ‘60s. And I love it. It’s so feminine, it’s almost like a little baby doll. So I really think it’s cute” (“Wimbledon,” ESPN2, 6/21).
STYLE POLICE: In Manchester, Deborah Linton wrote “making a style statement on centre court is now as much a part of tennis as the ball boys and Wimbledon promises to indulge fashion lovers for a whole two weeks as its stars strut out their new looks on the court-cum-catwalk.” Roger Federer has “undoubtedly become the stand-out style star for the boys," while Maria Sharapova fills that role in the ladies' draw. Federer “oozes panache with his sophisticated and stylish outfits that manage to combine the traditional with the trendy just perfectly.” Sharapova has taken over as the game’s “eye candy,” as she has “trotted out a string of sexy and style-conscious outfits at some of the world’s major competitions." Meanwhile, Linton wrote Serena Williams is “gradually becoming more hit than miss and her white mini trenchcoat a couple of years ago was a triumph” (MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS, 6/20).
all-white jacket adorned with tennis balls
The Boston-area Niketown store has “refused to remove its controversial window front T-shirt display yesterday despite a plea" by Boston Mayor Thomas Menino to "take it down because it appears to promote drug use,” according to Jessica Heslam of the BOSTON HERALD. The store’s GM declined to discuss the situation, and Nike U.S. Media Relations Dir Derek Kent yesterday confirmed that the company “has received Menino’s letter but wouldn’t comment beyond its initial statement, which said Nike doesn’t condone the use of banned or illegal substances and the T-shirts are part of an action sports campaign.” Dot Joyce, a spokesperson for Menino, said, “We maintain our position that they’re not appropriate for the city of Boston.” Heslam notes Menino is “encouraging people who support his position to contact Nike” (BOSTON HERALD, 6/22).