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Volume 24 No. 155

Marketing and Sponsorship

The WNBA and Boost Mobile today announced a multiyear marketing partnership making the wireless phone provider the WNBA's first leaguewide marquee partner. As part of the deal, the Boost Mobile logo will appear on the front of game jerseys for 10 of the WNBA's 12 teams; the Mercury and Silver Stars already have wireless sponsorships. The jersey branding, starting tomorrow night, will mark the first time the WNBA has had a league partner with logo placement on multiple teams' uniforms other than adidas, the league's official outfitter. Boost Mobile, a Sprint subsidiary, also will have in-arena presence with the 10 teams (THE DAILY). SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's John Lombardo reports the "marquee level is a new top marketing tier for the league, and this deal includes much more than the jersey inventory." Boost becomes title sponsor of the WNBA All-Star Game as well as presenting sponsor for this year’s WNBA playoffs and Finals. League officials would not disclose financial terms, but the agreement's "size and its scope make it one of the most significant sponsorships in WNBA history." Sources confirmed it is a multiyear, eight-figure deal. WNBA President Laurel Richie said the deal is "transformative in its size, scope and breadth." Sprint VP/Corporate Marketing Steve Gaffney: "When we looked at the all the assets of the deal, from the jersey visibility to the court visibility to the overall stature of the Boost Mobile brand, it is a great alignment. This is a cost-effective way to align with a premier women’s sports brand" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 8/22 issue). Gaffney noted that Sprint "was attracted to the WNBA because the league attracted the young, urban, multicultural fans that the cellphone company considers its core customers." He said, "With the WNBA, we feel we hit the nail on the head" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/22).

EPL club Manchester United will have its training jersey sponsored by DHL in deal worth $16.5M (all figures U.S.) per season, reportedly the "first time a club has secured a second sponsor just for its training kit," according to Daniel Farey-Jones of MARKETING magazine. The club's game jerseys “have been sponsored since last season by financial giant AON,” which struck a four-year deal worth $33M per season. It is “not yet clear how long the DHL deal will last.” The amount DHL is paying is “greater than many other Premier League shirt sponsorships.” DHL's relationship with ManU "started in February with a seven-figure, three-year deal giving the company responsibility for the distribution of United's range of merchandise” (, 8/22). Meanwhile, BLOOMBERG NEWS’ Vallikappen & Panja cite sources as saying that ManU “will sign a sponsorship deal with Malaysian snacks maker Mamee Double Decker Bhd. next month.” The sources said that deal will reportedly be with Mister Potato, a "brand of potato crisps and chips made by the Kuala Lumpur-listed company.” A source said that the deal with Mamee Double Decker “will allow the use of Manchester United’s Red Devil logo and images of star players.” Vallikappen & Panja note ManU's “overall commercial revenue is close to passing 100 million pounds for the first time, which would bring it in line with the team’s broadcast and match day income.” Sources said that the deal comes as ManU “plans an initial public offering in Singapore to raise $1 billion later this year” (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 8/22).

GO EAST, MY FRIEND: FINANCIAL TIMES’ Kevin Brown cited sources as saying that Singapore billionaire Peter Lim, who tried to buy EPL club Liverpool last year, has been “approached to act as a cornerstone investor” in the $1B IPO by ManU, but he “has doubts about the valuation.” Singapore state investment agency Temasek also has “been approached to invest in the IPO, expected to take place in Singapore in the fourth quarter of the year, but has made no decision.” ManU is “expected to offer 25-30 per cent of its shares, valuing” the EPL club at more than $3B. Brown writes Lim’s hesitation "this time around suggests that Manchester United may not find it easy to realise the high valuation.” Lim has “a reputation as a savvy investor, and has commercial links with Manchester United through an interest in a chain of themed restaurants and bars in Asia that are based on the club” (FINANCIAL TIMES, 8/22). In Manchester, Kevin Feddy reports ManU today “underlined its appeal in the Far East by signing a three-year deal with Beeline, a Vietnamese mobile telecoms company” (MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS, 8/22).

The Bruins have selected Arnold Worldwide, Boston, as their agency of record. The company for the '11-12 season will launch an integrated marketing campaign that includes digital, TV, print and out of home components. Arnold is also the agency of record for New Balance and Titleist (Arnold). In Boston, Grillo & Goodison reports Arnold replaces Mullin, Boston, the Bruins' ad firm since '08. Mullin in April '09 debuted a campaign featuring the team's bear mascot "in a series of silly TV commercials," and the bear-themed ads "will stay in the game." Arnold Chief Creative Officer Peter Favat said, "Everyone loves the bear. It's an icon, and we're looking to evolve the idea and take the bear into new places." Bruins VP/Marketing Jen Compton said that she is "happy to be able to extend the hockey-loving grizzly's life with Arnold." Compton: "We're looking to revive the overall campaign, capitalize on the Stanley Cup championship and take it to the next level" (BOSTON HERALD, 8/20).

Panasonic has signed a deal with CBS Sports and the USTA to sponsor 3D broadcasts of the upcoming U.S. Open Tennis Championships for the second consecutive year. CBS will expand its 3D coverage of the tournament to weekend matches from Arthur Ashe Stadium as well as select matches from the tournament's No. 2 court, Louis Armstrong Stadium. Coverage will also be supplemented by use of a pre-production model of Panasonic's new 3DPI professional-grade 3D camcorder. Panasonic plans a heavy on-site activation at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, including 3D viewing galleries and 3D gaming centers at the facility. 3D continues to draw criticism in many corners, particularly Hollywood pundits, but Panasonic execs remain bullish on the technology. "Like any new technology, there's still a ramp-up period we're going through," said Panasonic North America VP/Marketing & Brand Management Betty Noonan. "But we and other manufacturers are committed to 3D, and are committed to getting to a breakthrough point on content. Distribution channels are opening up, but we still need more content. That's why sports events like this are so important."

In the third and final part of our interview with GMR Marketing Exec VP/Sports Marketing Mike Boykin, he talks about the state of NASCAR, stories he is watching in sports and his advice to young people looking to work in sports business. On NASCAR, he said clients are asking about getting involved in the sport, saying “The number of ways a client can get in and the various touch points and cost points, I think, still makes it attractive. Is it what it was three years ago? No, it’s not. Do I think it will be a major sport and force going forward? Yes I do.” When asked about stories he’s keeping an eye on, Boykin mentioned globalization in sports and labor disputes. On labor, he said, “What will it mean to the NBA? I think that could mean a much different story. I hope not, the NBA had an awesome year. But I think if we’re looking at February when they start the season or if there is no basketball at all, it would have a very damaging effect.” Asked what keeps him up at night, he said, “How do we keep up with the change?” His advice to people looking to get started in sports business: “Build relationships -- not just for the next opportunity. But build relationships for life. It’s a small universe, it’s a small world in the sports business.” Finally, Boykin offers his predictions for his Univ. of South Carolina football team (“SEC Championship, Atlanta, here we come”), as well as his early pick for the World Series. View part three, and if you missed the first two, watch part one and part two.

In Portland, Mike Tokito notes Safeway's deal to title sponsor the annual LPGA event in Oregon ended yesterday with the tournament's conclusion, and the future of the Safeway Classic will be "decided soon." Tournament Golf Foundation President Tom Maletis, whose non-profit organization runs the event, said that the "next step is for TGF to start negotiating with Safeway to return as title sponsor." Maletis: "I feel like in the next four weeks, we'll have some sort of indication, maybe even sooner." Tokito notes the "tournament at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club's Ghost Creek course drew a record crowd of 88,100 for the seven days of activities, primarily the three days of tournament play" (Portland OREGONIAN, 8/22).

UGA unveils Pro Combat uniforms that
will be worn in its season opener
READY FOR COMBAT: In Athens, Roger Clarkson reported Nike on Saturday released photos of the Univ. of Georgia football team's Pro Combat uniforms for the Sept. 3 season opener against Boise State. UGA "will wear gray helmets with red jerseys and red pants" for the game, before the team reverts "back to its classic ensemble for the balance of the season." UGA coach Mark Richt said, "There's a lot of people who just don't want to get away from (the traditional uniform) and I don't blame them" (ATHENS BANNER-HERALD, 8/21).

HAPPY FEET: In Chicago, Mitch Dudek reported 13 applicants "will be chosen to run two-mile legs each" of the Oct. 9 Bank of America Chicago Marathon with U.S. women's soccer players Abby Wambach, Hope Solo and Alex Morgan. The trio has "not yet decided how many miles each will run" as part of their relationship with the marathon's "Let's Run Together" charity campaign. Dudek notes "things have been busy" for Solo since this summer's FIFA Women's World Cup. Solo: "It really has been a whirlwind since we came back. I’m still putting all the pieces together. Things haven’t really slowed up all that much" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 8/22).