Bank of America Friday announced it has reached an agreement with U.S. Soccer players Abby Wambach, Hope Solo and Alex Morgan to serve as spokespeople for a charitable program that will play a role in this year's Bank of America Chicago Marathon. The program will be introduced this summer and culminate on race day, Oct. 9 (BofA). USA TODAY's Michael McCarthy noted the deal is "among the first" for the players after the U.S. team's run to the FIFA Women's World Cup final. BofA Senior VP/Global Media Relations Joe Goode said that the deal “runs through the fall.” However, BofA is "holding open the possibility of a long-term relationship” (USATODAY.com, 7/21). The BofA deal comes after Solo and Wambach made substantial gains in the latest Davie Brown Index rankings from The Marketing Arm. The data shows that 21% of all U.S. consumers know who Solo is, comparable to former U.S. softball player Jennie Finch, Lions QB Matthew Stafford, Mavericks C Tyson Chandler and broadcaster Dick Enberg. Solo’s appeal score ranked her No. 253 out of nearly 2900 celebrities in the Index. Likewise, nearly 21% of all U.S. consumers know who Wambach is, comparable to former WNBAer Lisa Leslie, Rays DH Johnny Damon and ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit. Wambach’s appeal score ranked No. 121, and her endorsement potential ranked No. 20, similar to Bobcats Owner Michael Jordan, golfer Phil Mickelson and Colts QB Peyton Manning (The Marketing Arm).
TIME TO TALK: Solo continues to make the late-night talk show rounds, appearing Thursday on TBS’ “Lopez Tonight,” and host George Lopez introduced her by saying, “My first guest led the women's national soccer team to the World Cup final. She is, without question, the hottest goalkeeper on Earth.” After sitting down on-stage, Solo told Lopez, “I was so focused on walking down these steps in these heels.” Lopez asked, “Do you wear heels a lot?” Solo: “No, I'm an athlete. I’m a soccer player. Can you tell I can't really walk?” Solo said she has “barely slept in the last three days,” so Lopez thanked her for appearing on the show. Solo: “I'm so happy to be on a late-night talk show with a host who knows soccer!” Lopez asked, “Would you ever play on a men's team?” Solo: “That's been the million dollar question lately. I wouldn't be opposed to it, let's just say that. I wouldn't be opposed to it and I think I’d be able to hang. I don't think I’d be the best goalkeeper by any means. I'm not that arrogant, not that naive. But I think I’d be able to hang.” Lopez: “I think it’d be great to see you do that.” Solo: “I also think that we should be able to go that route if we're good enough.” At the end of the interview, Lopez sat in a dunk tank wearing a suit while Solo dropped kicked soccer balls at him, dropping him in the tank of water on her fourth attempt (“Lopez Tonight,” TBS, 7/21).
Powerade and adidas are "in the process of strategizing new campaigns centered around" Bulls G Derrick Rose, "with the tone and message a critical part of the process," according to Melissa Isaacson of ESPN CHICAGO. The companies, which along with Wilson make up three of Rose's "biggest endorsements, all responded to the MVP award last spring." Wilson released a "limited edition basketball, adidas had an MVP tribute commercial, and Powerade aired a congratulatory TV ad, a Chicago billboard and a pledge to donate $25 for every point he score in the playoffs, (which came out to their minimum promise of $15,000) to restore the basketball courts at Murray Park, where Rose grew up playing." adidas also is "designing a new shoe with plenty of input from Rose." adidas VP/Global Basketball Lawrence Norman said, "He's adamant that he really wants a product a kid can wear on and off the court, so he doesn't have to wear two different pairs of shoes." Furthermore, Norman believes Rose "will one day be the No. 1 basketball icon in all of China," bigger than Lakers G Kobe Bryant and the recently retired Yao Ming. Rose will be "busier off the court" this summer than in years past, "traveling to China in August for an adidas marketing tour centered around the Bulls star." Isaacson wrote "establishing a presence in Asia is crucial right now for NBA stars," not just because it "can lead to added revenue and leverage during and after the league lockout, but because simply, China is the world's most populated country and basketball its most popular sport." Norman: "There is a golden opportunity in China for Derrick. We feel in the long term, he can be the No. 1 basketball icon and potentially the biggest sports icon in all of China" (ESPNCHICAGO.com, 7/21).
WINNING ISN'T EVERYTHING ... OR IS IT? ESPN's Jim Rome noted N-Score results from a new Nielsen Media/E-Poll study, which aims to evaluate potential endorsement effectiveness, found Mavericks F Dirk Nowitzki to be the most-marketable player in the NBA, "based on name appeal, approachability and sincerity." Rome: "In short, people dig Dirk and how can you not?" Conversely, the study indicates that Heat F LeBron James' marketability "dropped 400% ... since last year." Rome: "Dropping 400% in a year when you make it to the NBA Finals is not easy to do, especially when your main goal is to become a global icon. But if we've learned anything at all from Dirk, it's this: The quickest way to becoming a global icon is to not care about becoming a global icon" ("Jim Rome Is Burning," ESPN, 7/20).
The WALL STREET JOURNAL's John Miller examines TV exposure for Tour de France sponsors and notes research firm IFM Group estimates that the "average exposure value for a team ranges from $8 million for a low-ranking team to more than $100 million for a team with a top finisher." IFM Group Head of Global Solutions Ulrich Lacher said cycling "is still a great advertising investment if you can deal with the doping risk, and that can be handled with good crisis management." Europcar is sponsoring cycling for the "first time this year, paying roughly two-thirds" of its team's $9.2M annual price tag. Europcar Communications Dir Marine Boulot said the rental car company's marketers are "calculating every second that our logo is seen on the screen" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/22).
TRIPLE THREAT POSITION: In Chicago, Joe Cowley notes 2K Sports last year "took full control of the hoops gaming world" when it put Bobcats Owner Michael Jordan on the cover of "NBA 2K11," and the addition of Basketball HOFers Magic Johnson and Larry Bird to covers of this year's video game is the "foot on the throat for what little remaining competition was left." 2K Sports last year sold 5 million copies of its NBA game, indicating that Jordan "is instant green," not only for the "older gamers who grew up watching him, but a younger generation that only has heard of his legend." Futhermore, the "real beauty" in the "NBA 2K12" cover idea is that it is "all but NBA lockout-proof" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 7/22).
JOIN THE BREW CREW: Caterpillar Global Mining and the Brewers Thursday announced a new corporate partnership, and the company’s “first promotion is a big one.” Caterpillar, which moved into the Milwaukee market with its acquisition of Bucyrus Int'l Inc., said that it “will purchase a total of 10,000 Terrace Level Reserved tickets to games” next Tuesday and Wednesday against the Cubs at Miller Park, and “make them available to fans for free.” There will be 5,000 free tickets for each game (JSONLINE.com, 7/21).
ROUNDUP: UFC has reached a multiyear sponsorship deal with Boston Pizza, making the Canadian chain an exclusive partner of the MMA organization in the country (MARKETINGMAG.ca, 7/20)....Puma has signed a multiyear sponsorship deal with EPL club Tottenham Hotspur and South Africa men's soccer MF Steven Pienaar (THE DAILY).