Attorneys for a group of former NCAA athletes yesterday sent cease-and-desist letters to ESPN, CBS and other nets saying “each of the networks ‘appears to have no right’ to feature the names, images and likeness of former football and basketball players without their permission,” according to Steve Wieberg of USA TODAY. Attorney Michael Hausfeld, lead counsel for former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon, in the letter cited “the NCAA’s acknowledgment during a recent court hearing tied to the likenesses lawsuit that ‘there are no licenses from the NCAA to anybody that purport to, on their face or implicitly, constitute a license of any student-athlete rights.’” The letter asks that “any licensing fees paid to the NCAA or partner Collegiate Licensing Co. be placed in escrow and that contracts be rewritten to clarify what rights are held by the NCAA.” Additionally, the letter calls for “separate licensing contracts with individual former players” (USA TODAY, 6/28).
Marketing and Sponsorship
TNT is "still looking to nail down a few sponsors for its 'Wide Open Coverage'" of Saturday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400, according to Anthony Crupi of ADWEEK. TNT has "lined up six sponsors for its uninterrupted race coverage, including returning clients Coke Zero, Coors Light, Pfizer, Sprint and Toyota." Warner Bros. also will serve as a sponsor, and it will "promote a pair of upcoming comedies in 'Horrible Bosses' and 'Crazy, Stupid, Love.'" Turner Sports "hopes to lock in at least one more sponsor before Saturday's prime-time race." Notably "missing from Saturday's roster is a representative of the fast-food category." TNT's coverage of the race last year "boasted a pair of QSR sponsors" in Burger King and Subway. Crupi noted that Burger King "bowed out is not terribly surprising, given the chain's recent marketing travails." Meanwhile, Subway will serve as the presenting sponsor of Friday's Nationwide Series Subway Jalapeno 250, also held at Daytona Int'l Speedway. In the last two years, TNT "hasn't missed a single lap of Daytona, and since the network launched the concept in 2007, it has failed to present a grand total of nine laps." The "positioning has helped sponsors cut through the clutter of a standard NASCAR broadcast." Nielsen IAG Research indicated that sponsor messages featured during last year's Coke Zero 400 "delivered a 68 percent brand recall score, significantly higher when compared to standard 30-second spots that ran during other NASCAR events" (ADWEEK.com, 6/27).
The IMG management team behind tennis player Bernard Tomic "insists it will not be rushing immediately in the marketplace to secure new sponsorship deals for the boom teenager," who has advanced to the Wimbledon quarterfinals, according to Chris Barrett of the Melbourne AGE. Tomic, whose "stunning victory over world No. 5 Robin Soderling in the Wimbledon third round created global attention, is still only 18 but is almost universally regarded as one of the three or four most exciting young players in men's tennis." But his reps, led by IMG agent Max Eisenbud, believe that "more lucrative interest from corporate backers will arise when his ranking improves even further." Einsenbud said that Tomic "will be an even more appealing commodity in the corporate world with an additional boost in his ranking, which is projected to rise from the high-150s to about 95." He added, "I've got to be honest I'm not really thinking much about deals and offers. It's just development, development, development and the other stuff will take care of itself" (Melbourne AGE, 6/28).
BULLISH ON THE TENNIS BUSINESS: Prince Sports CEO Gordon Boggis yesterday said the tennis business is "still a relatively strong sport globally." Asked about how the lack of top U.S. players affects his business, Boggis said, "I think with Prince what we're focused on is a very different approach, which is to look more at the future and really the history and heritage of Prince is always one of innovation, challenging the norms and therefore a relentless focus on the future." CNBC's Nicole Lapin said, "Let's be honest, you don't have Nadal, you don't have Federer, you don't have Roddick anymore. You don't have Sharapova anymore." Boggis: "The interesting topic is, ‘What comes next? Who and what comes next?’ Like the game today has changed so much and so the equipment has to change. There's also a mindset change and the top junior athletes of today, they want to set their own trends. ... So what we found is when we work with our top junior athletes, they want to make their own mark on the world and that's why the focus of so much of our advertising and our campaign is focused on telling the stories of true authentic junior athletes” (“Worldwide Exchange,” CNBC, 6/27).
The MLS Earthquakes have signed a multiyear partnership with Wells Fargo. The S.F.-based bank will sponsor the team’s Goals for Education campaign, which donates $250 to local education programs for every goal scored by the Earthquakes, as well as the Soccer Mom of the Match award. The bank will also sponsor the Earthquakes’ regional 4v4 soccer tournaments for youth and adults. Wells Fargo will become presenting sponsor of Saturday's game against the Red Bulls at Stanford Stadium and the Aug. 6 game against the Timbers. According to Earthquakes President David Kaval, the deal helps put the team’s sponsorship revenue up 40% from '10. The team this year has signed Kaiser Permanente, Farmers Insurance, 7Up/Snapple and Gordon Biersch. “It’s a really positive sign as we move toward (building) the new stadium,” Kaval said. “We’ve taken some categories where we weren’t that strong and really bolstered things.”
Capital One and Castrol Edge are returning as presenting sponsors for ESPN's ESPY Awards, which will be televised live July 13 at 9:00pm ET. As part of their deal, Capital One and Castrol Edge were co-presenting sponsors of the nomination show, which airing on ESPN last Friday night, and will serve as co-presenting sponsors of the ESPY voting. ESPN this year has signed the biggest number of sponsors in the event's 19-year hostory. Hennessy will sponsor the pre-party; MGD64 will sponsor the post-party; and HP will present the official Social Media Lounge. Returning associate sponsors include EA Sports, Gatorade, GMC and SuperCuts. First-time associate sponsors include Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey, K-Swiss and 20th Century Fox.
In London, James Corrigan notes Rory McIlroy yesterday attended an Oakley sponsors day in London where his outfits for the British Open were unveiled (London INDEPENDENT, 6/28). In Minneapolis, John Rash wrote it is “too early to tell if McIlroy is the next” Tiger Woods. But perhaps the “only grins bigger than those of McIlroy and his fans” after his U.S. Open victory were “worn by sponsors and PGA executives.” IMG Managing Dir, Senior VP & Head of Global Consulting David Abrutyn said of the Irish golfer, "To an enlightened corporate brand, being foreign in today's marketing world probably isn't an inhibitor as it might have been 10 to 15 years ago" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 6/25).
YOUR NAME HERE: In Melbourne, Lorisse Dart reported Australian beach volleyball player Claire Kelly is "selling tattoo space on her body for sponsors." Kelly is offering a 2-by-2 centimeter space on her left arm for US$10,500 and a 5-by-5 centimeter space on her right arm or shoulder for US$52,490. There are other "packages" available and "an eBay auction." The money raised will pay for Kelly and partner Carla Kleverlaan to join the World Tour, "on which the pair must play at least 12 events to qualify" for the '12 London Olympics (Melbourne HERALD SUN, 6/26).
BY ASSOCIATION: MARKETING magazine’s Sarah Shearman notes supermarket chain Tesco is “looking to associate with London 2012 by supporting the Olympic sponsorship programmes of its Clubcard scheme's partners.” Although Tesco is not an official sponsor of the Games, “several of its Clubcard partners, such as Visa and Procter & Gamble, are official global sponsors of the Games.” A source said Tesco is looking to support their partners' programs “to get closer to the Games and become associated with a message about the importance of health and participation in sport” (MARKETINGMAGAZINE.co.uk, 6/28).
HAWKING GEAR: Clinch Gear has signed Packers LB A.J. Hawk to a multiyear endorsement deal. The performance apparel brand plans to introduce A.J. Hawk signature products next year. Priority Sports & Entertainment brokered the deal (Clinch Gear).