MasterCard has renewed its corporate sponsorship of MLB "for an additional five years and will start activating those rights" during All-Star Game festivities this week, according to Terry Lefton in this week’s SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. MasterCard, which has held MLB corporate sponsorship rights since ‘97, will “launch a broad-based marketing platform that combines a usage promotion with a cause-related initiative.” “Eat, Drink and Be Generous” will “encourage consumers to use MasterCard at restaurants, with a penny being donated by MasterCard to Stand Up To Cancer each time a fan uses the card at eateries through Sept. 1.” MasterCard will make a maximum donation of $4M and is “defining ‘restaurants’ loosely enough that ballpark concession stands that accept MasterCard, along with quick-service restaurants and coffee shops, such as Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, are included.” MasterCard will “herald the campaign with three spots” during Fox’ All-Star Game telecast tonight, featuring actors Ray Romano and Reese Witherspoon (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 7/11 issue).
MISSING LINKS: MasterCard, already a corporate partner with the PGA and European tours, is becoming a patron sponsor of the British Open. MasterCard and the Open Championship made the announcement today. MasterCard joins Doosan, HSBC, Mercedes-Benz, Nikon and Rolex as the British Open’s patron sponsors. The deal resumes a long association between the credit card company and the R&A -- MasterCard previously held the presenting sponsorship of the Senior British Open from ‘00-04 and then from ‘08-10 (Michael Smith, SportsBusiness Journal).
International marketing company WPP Group “has acquired a stake in Just Marketing International,” according to Tripp Mickle of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The deal values JMI at $100M. WPP will “join existing shareholders Spire Capital Partners, Credit Suisse and Zak Brown, who founded the agency.” Its investment is “believed to give it a stake of roughly 25 percent in the agency.” WPP is the “second major investor in JMI in the last three years,” after Spire Capital Partners “took a majority stake in the agency in 2008 when the agency’s revenue was close to $80 million.” Since then, Indianapolis-based JMI has “diversified its business by expanding its operations overseas.” Brown “believes WPP’s investment will help JMI grow by providing it with access to the company’s corporate client base and supporting it with the expertise of subsidiaries specializing in areas such as digital media.” Brown: “There’s no doubt it will operationally benefit us. Whether it’s efficiencies or buying power, I’m sure we’re going to gain and learn a lot.” Brown said that JMI “will remain focused on motorsports and continue to increase its revenue internationally” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 7/11 issue).
WHAT CAN BROWN DO FOR YOU? Brown appeared on Speed's "Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain" Sunday night and discussed the state of NASCAR marketing. JMI represents UPS in its primary sponsorship of Roush Fenway Racing's No. 6 Sprint Cup entry driven by David Ragan, though the deal expires after this season. Brown said, "Clearly, we wanted him to win more races than he did. … UPS is committed to the sport. They've been in for 12 years now. They generate a lot of business out of the sport and in the sport from the industry. So they're in discussions right now, reviewing what to do. Really, Ragan's future is as much in Roush's hands because he's in a contract year. Kind of need to wait and see what happens there.” Brown said the economy “has bottomed out” as more and more teams have to field a variety of sponsors as opposed to the $20M main sponsor in the past. Brown: “NASCAR is a great buy because it still puts up fantastic numbers. But I do think these multiple paint schemes and multiple companies is the future." Meanwhile, Brown's name has been mentioned as possibly replacing Bernie Ecclestone in heading up F1. Brown said, "I'm happy doing what I'm doing. It's very flattering to be mentioned in the same sentence. I know Bernie very well. I do a ton of business with Formula One, with JMI, and you know, never say never. But I'm happy doing what I'm doing now" ("Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain," Speed, 7/10).
Jose Bautista has become one of the most exciting players in MLB after hitting 54 home runs last season and leading the league at the All-Star break this year with 31 homers, and New Balance has taken notice by signing the Blue Jays star to an endorsement deal. The company will be the official on-field footwear and off-field athletic footwear and apparel provider for Bautista, who set a record this season for most All-Star votes in MLB history with more than 7.45 million. Bautista wore a custom designed version of New Balance’s 1103 cleat last night during the Home Run Derby and will wear a second version during tonight’s All-Star Game. New Balance is not planning a signature shoe for Bautista, though he is wearing a version of the 1103 cleat during the season that features “Bautista” and his number “19” on the tongue. New Balance GM of Sports Marketing Mark Cavanaugh said Bautista will be “a key brand athlete in all of our New Balance baseball plans moving forward,” as he will be “intimately involved in our product design and development process.” In addition to the Bautista deal, New Balance this season signed a sponsorship agreement with the Red Sox, and also has individual deals with 3B Kevin Youkilis and 2B Dustin Pedroia. Cavanaugh said the company’s progress in MLB is “part of a larger initiative to be the number one baseball footwear brand at all levels of the game." Bautista is repped by Proformance Sport's Bean Stringfellow.
Gonzalez has signed deals this year with Eastern Bank, Dunkin' Donuts
USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale in a sports section cover story notes Red Sox 1B Adrian Gonzalez "could be the next biggest thing in Boston" following Patriots QB Tom Brady from a marketing perspective. John Boggs, Gonzalez's agent, said that his "phone rings incessantly with marketing and endorsement opportunities." But except for a "doughnut commercial here, a banking and sunglasses sponsorship there, Gonzalez wants nothing to interfere with baseball." He said, "I just want to show up at the ballpark at the same time every day, and not be worn down by the off-the-field stuff" (USA TODAY, 7/12). Gonzalez, who finished second in last night's Home Run Derby, last month signed a deal with Eastern Bank and in May agreed to a partnership with Dunkin' Donuts (THE DAILY).
NEWS THAT'S FIT TO PRINT: In N.Y., Stuart Elliott noted when Yankees SS Derek Jeter "got his 3,000th hit on Saturday, he set off a celebration on Madison Avenue that shows few signs of petering out." The N.Y. Daily News planned to publish a 52-page magazine today, called Jeter’s 3,000, "to be sold on newsstands for $2.50 a copy." There also was slated to be a "24-page 'Derek Jeter section' in the Tuesday issue of The Daily News" (NYTIMES.com, 7/11).
COLOR BLIND? SPORTING NEWS' Anthony Witrado notes it "seems Nike thought it would be a good idea to make baby blue and red cleats" for last night's Home Run Derby, "completely off from the color scheme of the All-Star uniforms." Cardinals LF Matt Holliday, Dodgers CF Matt Kemp and Brewers 2B Rickie Weeks "all thought it would be fashionable to wear them." Witrado: "They were wrong. The spikes were eyesores" (SPORTING NEWS TODAY, 7/12).
THE LONE RANGER: Rangers RF Josh Hamilton has the highest N-Score (40) of any All-Star in the starting lineup for tonight's game, according to Nielsen and E-Poll. The N-Score evaluates name image awareness, appeal and various attributes. Yankees 2B Robinson Cano, winner of last night's Home Run Derby, has the second-highest score (23) among All-Star starters. Brewers RF Ryan Braun has the highest score among NL starters (16), followed by Kemp (14), Rockies SS Troy Tulowitzki (12) and Reds 3B Scott Rolen (12) (THE DAILY).
The Horizon League has selected IMG College to represent the conference’s multimedia rights as part of a five-year agreement. The 33-year-old conference, which is headquartered in Indianapolis, fields 10 schools including Butler and Cleveland State. The deal will have IMG College manage and market all rights associated with advertising and sponsorship for the Horizon’s championship events. IMG College also gets the rights for website, radio and TV broadcasts. The deal went into effect on July 1 and an announcement is expected today (Michael Smith, SportsBusiness Journal).
Bolt sports Puma jersey with his image on it during race in Paris
ONE-STOP SHOPPING: The GLOBE & MAIL’s Susan Krashinsky notes the NHL and NBC’s joint sales venture to streamline the league's U.S. media sales through '15-16 is “an example of a trend among TV broadcasters, who are facing rising costs to buy television rights for sports events, and are no longer content to invest in traditional TV rights alone.” TV advertising is “still where the money is, but broadcasters have woken up to the growing value of online viewing and mobile apps.” The agreement “also gives advertisers a one-stop shop for NHL properties.” The NHL will “keep its hands on the lucrative sales of official league sponsorships,” but the deal is “valuable for NBC, especially as it builds its brand to compete against other sports broadcasters such as ESPN” (GLOBE & MAIL, 7/12).
ONE COOL CAT: Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt wore a Puma jersey during a meet in Paris Friday featuring his own image, and ESPN's Michael Wilbon said, "He’s the self-absorbed king of vanity but ... this is necessary behavior in track and field, where it’s an individual thing where you need to call attention to yourself. Bolt’s very good at it.” Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan said this kind of behavior is “endemic to sprinters." Ryan: "They are divas” (“PTI,” ESPN, 7/11).
NOTES: EPL club Wigan Athletic announced online betting brand 12BET has agreed to a two-year deal to become the club’s shirt sponsor, marking the most lucrative shirt sponsorship in the team’s history. The deal includes 12BET becoming the club's official betting and gaming partner (Wigan Athletic)….The Italian Olympic Committee announced that Giorgio Armani will outfit all Italian athletes during the ’12 London Olympics. Details of the deal “will be revealed next week” (AP, 7/12)….MGM Resorts Int'l will serve as host and promotional partner for both the Izod IndyCar World Championships and the inaugural Monster Energy Cup on Oct. 15-16 in Las Vegas (MGM Resorts).