The NHL and NBC today announced the creation of a joint sales venture designed to streamline the league's U.S. media sales through '15-16. NHL media sales for all national platforms will be sold by NBC Sports Group, which will absorb some NHL media sales employees. All traffic generated by NHL.com and other league sites will be attributed to NBC Sports Digital. Current and future NHL marketing partners will continue to buy media via the NHL Integrated Sales Department. Financial terms were not disclosed (THE DAILY). NHL COO John Collins said that "approximately 14 NHL staffers" will take part in the joint venture. The NHL "will continue to sell broader league-based sponsorship packages," but Collins said, "We wanted to share sales opportunities, both to protect our corporate partners and to create opportunities for our corporate partners to spend on NBC and Versus." Collins indicated that the venture "should help drive more ad money to hockey ... as NBC Sports can try to use its broadcasts of golf, 'Sunday Night Football,' the coming Super Bowl and Olympics to interest marketers in broader ad packages for its sports properties." Though the NBA "has in the past turned over some digital ad sales" to Turner, "sports leagues and owners of major sports events typically oversee their own advertising relationships" (ADAGE.com, 7/11).
Marketing and Sponsorship
After Yankees SS Derek Jeter collected his 3,000th hit during Saturday's game against the Rays, lines at Yankee Stadium "numbered in the hundreds from the third inning on, with fans lining up to buy anything Jeter-related to commemorate the historic moment," according to Mark La Monica of NEWSDAY. It was "mayhem" inside the Yankees' team store soon after Jeter's third-inning home run. Workers "stood in the middle of the madness, with tables of Jeter merchandise surrounding them." Boxes of "pre-printed keepsake Yankees Magazine issues couldn't get hauled out of elevators fast enough." Yankees President Randy Levine said, "It's unbelievable. I've never seen anything like this. So far, just on one day, this is exceeding World Series sales" (NEWSDAY, 7/10). SPORTING NEWS' Sean Deveney noted on Saturday at the "two entrances of the team's main store behind home plate, fans stood in lines that stretched about 100 yards combined just to enter the shop." Once inside, the "aisles of the store were packed" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 7/9).
CASHING IN ON THE MOMENT: On Long Island, Jeremy Schneider reports the Modell's Sporting Goods in Farmingdale, N.Y., starting selling commemorative memorabilia within 15 minutes of Jeter's 3,000th hit. Store employees "pulled scores of T-shirts, hats and other souvenirs out of the storage room and onto the main rack near the entrance." Even before Saturday's game finished, "fans were pouring into the store, eager to snatch up 3,000th-hit gear." Schneider notes the "original plan was to start selling the gear once the game became official, after 4 1/2 innings," but when Yankee Stadium "began selling Jeter memorabilia immediately, Modell's got in on the action" (NEWSDAY, 7/11). Steiner's Sports Chair Brandon Steiner said that his company "has 24 bases and 42 baseballs from the game," and Jeter "will sign much of that memorabilia." Dirt from the Yankee Stadium infield "also goes to Steiner, as does one of the two original lineup cards." Steiner on Saturday said, "This is the biggest day in our company's history. The phones here have crashed twice so far. The kind of weight this guy carries is amazing" (NEWSDAY, 7/10). Meanwhile, Movado on Saturday launched a special edition watch to celebrate brand ambassador Jeter's 3,000th hit. Only 300 of the watches are packaged in a sleeve accompanied by a thank you note from Jeter, retailing for $550. Movado will donate $100 from each sale to Jeter's Turn 2 Foundation (Movado). On Long Island, Neil Best reported orders are being taken for "The Official Major League Baseball Derek Jeter Limited Marquee Edition Opus." There will be 222 copies printed of the 75-pound, 790-page book, which sells for $4,500 (NEWSDAY.com, 7/9).
SUMMER CATCH: In N.Y., Sam Borden reported after Yankees fan Christian Lopez caught Jeter's 3,000th hit, he was "whisked away by security guards, who took him to a room in the bowels of Yankee Stadium where a trade for the historic ball could be discussed." Despite the "potential monetary value of the ball, Lopez made it clear he was not interested in profiting from his good fortune." The Yankees "responded in kind, giving Lopez four Champions Suite season tickets for every remaining home game this season, including the playoffs." He also received "front-row seats for Sunday’s game, three bats signed by Jeter, three balls signed by Jeter and two autographed Jeter jerseys" (NYTIMES.com, 7/9).
After a down year for the Home Run Derby in '10, marketers at title sponsor State Farm are hopeful that some tweaks to the competition will catalyze a revival. Last year's event in Anaheim failed to sell out and saw an ESPN ratings decline of 22%. This season, Red Sox DH David Ortiz and Brewers 1B Prince Fielder, named "captains" of the two teams by virtue of winning the past two derbies, got to pick their teammates for the competition. Ortiz selected Red Sox 1B Adrian Gonzalez, Yankees 2B Robinson Cano and Blue Jays RF Jose Bautista, who leads MLB with 31 home runs. On the NL side, Fielder tabbed Brewers 2B Rickie Weeks, Cardinals LF Matt Holliday and Dodgers CF Matt Kemp. "We all think that the captains picking should add excitement and enthusiasm to the event, with more of an NL/AL rivalry featured," said State Farm Ad Dir Ed Gold, whose company has title sponsored the Home Run Derby since '07. The insurer will have six ads in tonight's event, along with massive branding on the field and throughout the three-hour ESPN telecast. Gold said that since State Farm began sponsoring the Home Run Derby, it has seen increases in various brand metrics, along with annual sales spikes after the event. "Its been a powerful branding play," he said, "and the great thing about it [is] that on Monday, it's the only major sporting event. Nothing really competes with it, so we get to stand alone for a night" (Terry Lefton, THE DAILY).
GOING FOR GOLD: YAHOO SPORTS’ Kevin Kaduk noted the gold baseballs that will be used “during portions” of the Home Run Derby are “standard-sized Rawlings that feature one leather panel that has been infused with 24-karat gold.” The baseballs “will be trotted out when each slugger is down to his final out in each round.” The Boys & Girls Clubs of America will benefit from the promotion, as MLB and State Farm "will donate a combined $18,000 to the charity for each gold ball that goes for a homer.” Kaduk: “It may not be in the same neighborhood as introducing metal bats to the competition … but I think it’s a fun little gimmick” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 7/7).
NO STARS FOR PINSTRIPES: In N.Y., George King III reported All-Stars from the Yankees and Rays “did not wear hats with stars on them” during Saturday’s game, unlike All-Stars from other teams. MLB introduced “the idea to raise awareness about Tuesday night’s All-Star Game in Phoenix and asked teams to participate.” King noted it is believed Yankees SS Derek Jeter "did not want to show up his non-All Star teammates by wearing the stars, and when the captain went that way the others followed” (N.Y. POST, 7/10).
THE RISE OF THE PHOENIX: The Phoenix market is not likely to be confused with some baseball hotbeds like N.Y., St. Louis and S.F., all of which have hosted the All-Star Game in recent years. Nonetheless, Koskovolis said he was happy with the level of sponsor activation, even tweaking some MLB corporate patrons for starting too late. "It isn't easy to get a Hall of Famer to show up for a sponsor function on less than a week's notice," he laughed, "but overall, we've been pleasantly surprised by the level of activation and if anything, the value of early planning on this has been demonstrated." Other than MasterCard, MLB sponsors advertising in the Fox All-Star Game telecast include Anheuser-Busch, Chevy, Firestone, Holiday Inn, Pepsi, State Farm and Taco Bell. Taco Bell, an MLB corporate patron, will have a lineup feature, while adidas and Paramount's upcoming release "Captain America: The First Avenger" will have round recap features.
The Univ. of Miami men's basketball team "will be sporting LeBron James-branded Nike gear this coming season thanks to a sponsorship deal with the Miami Heat superstar," according to sources cited by Steve Gorten of the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL. James will have similar deals with Ohio State and Kentucky, following in the "footsteps of Michael Jordan, whose Jordan Brand is the official equipment supplier of his alma mater, North Carolina." James has "no direct ties to any of the three schools he'll be sponsoring," but he is "known as an Ohio State fan." James also "built a relationship with UM when he and some Heat teammates played pick-up games with Hurricanes players on campus last summer." Gorten noted James' sponsorship and "support of the Hurricanes should generate interest in a program that has continually lacked fan support" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 7/9).
Visa today announced that it expects the U.K. to see a $1.2B influx in consumer spending during the seven weeks of the ‘12 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The consumer spending prediction is the biggest ever for a host country. Between the opening and closing ceremonies of the ‘12 London Games, Visa predicts the U.K. economy will see a $995M boost from consumer spending. The Paralympic Games that follow will add another $206M to the economy. The retail and travel sectors will be the biggest beneficiaries. They will see $814.8M in spending. Supermarkets will see $128M, retailers will see $296M and restaurants and bars will see $130.6M in spending. The influx in spending primarily will result from foreign visitors to the U.K. Domestic consumer spending is expected to rise just $65.8M. Visa, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary as a worldwide Olympic sponsor, also announced that it has added four Olympians and Paralympians to its team of athletes for the ‘12 Games. Joining its team are Paralympic swimmer Jessica Long, distance runner Lopez Lomong, wheelchair basketball player Alana Nichols and gymnast Alicia Sacramone. They join a team that includes swimmer Michael Phelps, gymnast Nastia Liukin and decathlete Bryan Clay, among others.
Steelers WR Hines Ward was arrested Saturday morning on a DUI charge, and Baker Street Advertising Exec VP & Exec Creative Dir Bob Dorfman said that the arrest “could taint Ward's image, particularly due to the timing.” Ward less than two months ago won ABC’s "Dancing With The Stars." Dorfman said, "It is (Ward's) first mistake. If he can stay on the straight and narrow and have a great season, do all the right things, meaning apologize, show contrition, promise to never do it again and make sure that you never do it again, he can probably get back and still be a marketable athlete" (Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 7/10).
RACING DOLLARS: In Las Vegas, Steve Tetreault reported the U.S. House of Representatives last week voted “to defend U.S. military sponsorship of NASCAR and other motorsports against an effort to cut spending by more than half for the programs.” Lawmakers “voted 167-260 to kill an amendment” by U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) that “would have cut spending on motorsports” from $63M to $20M. U.S. Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.) said that “spending on NASCAR is a ‘recruiting tool’ that the Army expects will help attract 28,700 prospects and give recruiters access to 182 schools through its sponsorship” (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 7/10).
KEEPING THE FIELD IN FOCUS: In Charlotte, Joseph Person noted IMG “has tried to keep” client and No. 1 overall NFL Draft pick Cam Newton’s appearances “to a minimum and limited his sponsorships to blue-chip companies in Under Armour and GMC.” IMG’s Carlos Fleming, who handles Newton’s marketing, said, “Our goal is to not really do too much too early.” Under Armour “will launch an Auburn/Cam Newton apparel collection this summer," while his "shoe series will debut next spring” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 7/10).
NAME CHANGE: AROUND THE RINGS’ Ann Cantrell reported IOC TOP sponsor Atos Origin “is now Atos after the acquisition of Siemens IT Solutions and Services GmbH.” The French IT provider “changed its name on July 1 after the deal was approved by shareholders.” It is “unclear if Atos has already changed its corporate imagery related to the Olympics” (AROUNDTHERINGS.com, 7/10).