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Volume 24 No. 156

Marketing and Sponsorship

Tiger Woods has his “first major endorsement since his downfall two years ago, announcing a deal Wednesday with Rolex to be one of its ambassadors,” according to Doug Ferguson of the AP. Woods previously had a watch deal with Tag Heuer, which “dropped him two months ago.” Terms of the Rolex deal were not disclosed, although “it is believed to be longer than five years.” Woods has lost endorsement deals with AT&T, Accenture, Tag Heuer, Gatorade and Gillette since Nov. ’09. Woods’ agent, Excel Sports Management’s Mark Steinberg, said that Rolex would be “the first of a ‘couple of announcements’ related to endorsements, including a deal for Woods' golf bag.” He said that a “bag deal was likely to be announced as early as six weeks.” Ferguson noted Woods has had his foundation logo on the bag “since AT&T dropped him a month after Woods' sex scandal unfolded in November 2009.” Woods has been “in negotiations with Fry's Electronics, sponsor of this week's tournament, although those discussions have been going on for most of the year” (AP, 10/5). Steinberg said that the Rolex logo "would not be visible as Woods plays golf." He added that Woods "had a watch in his golf bag" during yesterday's pro-am prior to the start of the PGA Tour Open (, 10/5). YAHOO SPORTS’ Shane Bacon noted Rolex “has a handful of huge names in golf under its umbrella, including Phil Mickelson, Luke Donald, Martin Kaymer, Adam Scott, Rickie Fowler, Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson.” Rolex now gets “basically every big golfer on the planet sporting its timepieces, and Tiger gets as respected a name as there is out there under his wing, which has to be good for his fleeting image” (, 10/5).

SURPRISING FIRST STEP: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Suzanne Vranica reports some marketing experts are "surprised that Mr. Woods was able to grab such a high-profile consumer brand, especially given that he hasn't won an event in almost two years and fell out of the top 50 golfers for the first time since 1996." Chicago-based Engage Marketing Founder Kevin Adler said the deal is a "clear indicator that mainstream corporate America is coming around." Woods in June signed a deal to promote Japanese pain relief brand Vantelin Kowa (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/6).'s Randall Mell wrote the Woods' Rolex deal "bodes well for his bruised brand," but if he is "going to attract more sponsors, he's going to have to start winning again." Some analysts see Woods' "nearly two-year winless streak as the greatest obstacle to rejuvenating a portfolio that has lost five major endorsement deals" since November '09. However, the Rolex deal, and "Fry's interest, loom as evidence big business is willing to bet Woods will return to the winner's circle" (, 10/5). Golf Channel's Charlie Rymer said Rolex is "betting on Tiger Woods winning, and when he wins his next major and he slides that Rolex on his wrist on the 72nd hole, it’s all said and done for them” (“19th Hole,” Golf Channel, 10/5). Comcast SportsNet's Ivan Carter said, "He's one win away from being right back where he wants to be" ("Washington Post Live," Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic, 10/5).

: ESPN's Jay Crawford noted the "first rule of business, any business, is you want to buy low," and predicted that Rolex "giot him on the cheap, compared to what he was making.” ESPN’s Jemele Hill said, "Usually advertisers seem to sign up with somebody who’s ‘hot,’ and Tiger Woods isn’t ‘hot’ right now. Now maybe they’re banking on at some point he may come back, but it was a curious decision just because of where he is with his golf right now. He hasn’t been very good, so what market cache are they getting out of this?” ("First Take," ESPN2, 10/6). Golf Channel's Jay Coffin noted Tag Heuer "was one of the ones that left him previously, so now to go with Rolex, not that big of a surprise." Coffin: "I don’t necessarily think that this is going to open the floodgates, though. It’s not like that four or five big major brands are going to come back in the next six months to a year.” Coffin cited several business analysts as saying that it is "still going to be hard for these big major corporations to write a check for five or 10 million to a guy who the best thing you can say about him is he’s trying to be as good as he used to be” ("19th Hole," Golf Channel, 10/5).

: Steinberg said the Rolex deal is a sign that Woods' marketability is "coming back," and while he admits winning tournaments is a "pretty important component ... I've seen it change with increased interest in his marketability without his winning yet." Steinberg: "We're on a nice upswing right now. Now it's finding the right partners, the interesting deals, deals that will enhance him and his brand." He noted Woods is "not going to do a plethora of deals." Steinberg: "I'm open to categories that aren't currently occupied, meaning he's not conflicted in that space, whether it's cellular, whether it's consumer electronics, whether it's automotive" (, 10/5). More Steinberg: “The business end is actually quite strong. You can call me an agent, but I’m a salesman. And there are opportunities.” He added, “Our culture says to us that we like dynasties and that we also like underdogs. Tiger is as good a dynasty as there’s been in sports for, what, 13 years? And now you might say he’s an underdog. He would complete the story” (, 10/4).

STILL WORK TO BE DONE: Golf Channel’s Gary Williams and Erik Kuselias debated Woods' marketability prior to news of the Rolex deal, and Williams said Woods' appeal is “in purgatory now.” EA Sports is holding an online contest to see which golfers will share the cover of “Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13” with Woods, and Williams said, “All you had to do for years and years and years was slap his face on the cover and essentially kind of improve the graphics, make the game a little bit better, and you sold as many as you wanted to.” For the “third straight year his image, his brand, can’t stand alone” for EA Sports. Williams: “They’re going to put an American player and an international player on the box cover to be running basically stride for stride with him because he can’t do enough standing alone. That means his brand is flat.” But Kuselias said, “I still think that there is room for him to grow this brand and maybe flatten out. But a win or two could do wonders for him bouncing back. … If he next year in 2012 can come out and grab one early and build some excitement as we get ready towards Augusta, I think that could increase his marketability” (“Morning Drive,” Golf Channel, 10/4).

General Mills' Wheaties brand "will sponsor select races" next season for Richard Childress Racing's No. 31 NASCAR Sprint Cup entry driven by Jeff Burton, according to Bob Pockrass of Wheaties will sponsor "select races, although the exact number of races wasn't announced." Burton will “have primary sponsorship from his current sponsor Caterpillar" for a majority of races. General Mills has been the "primary sponsor for Richard Childress Racing's Clint Bowyer for the last three years” and had primarily promoted its Cheerios brand through the deal. RCR has not “announced a replacement for Bowyer nor sponsorship for his No. 33 team next season.” Team Owner Richard Childress said that “the organization may field just three Cup cars in addition to multiple Nationwide Series teams” (, 10/5). YAHOO SPORTS’ Nick Bromberg reported General Mills' role with RCR “was unclear heading into 2012 given Clint Bowyer’s departure for Michael Waltrip Racing, a move that will be official on Friday.” Sponsorship had been touted “as a main factor in negotiations between Bowyer and Childress, and given that it’s been widely reported that Bowyer had partnered with 5 Hour Energy for his 2012 ride, General Mills’ return may mean that sponsorship difficulties were hardly a reason at all” (, 10/5).

ESPN's Rusty Wallace disputed a report that he is contemplating shutting down his Nationwide Series team. Wallace said he never indicated he "was going to shut my team down.” Wallace: “What I did say is that if I can’t find a sponsorship in a timely matter, I might have to slowdown and maybe mothball some things. I never did say I’m going to shut the team down” (“NASCAR Now,” ESPN2, 10/5).

Basketball HOFer Bill Russell has filed an antitrust suit against the NCAA, alleging it of “selling videos using his likeness without paying him or seeking his consent,” according to Karen Gullo of BLOOMBERG NEWS. The lawsuit is “the latest to claim the NCAA violates federal antitrust laws by keeping former student basketball and football athletes from receiving compensation for the commercial use of their images and likeness.” EA is “also named as a defendant in the lawsuit,” and Russell “accuses it of using his image in a ‘Tournament of Legends’ feature on an NCAA basketball video game.” Russell’s complaint will “probably be consolidated with a pending lawsuit brought by former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon on behalf of other former NCAA players” against the NCAA and EA. The O’Bannon case alleges that the NCAA and EA “worked together to violate former student athletes’ rights to control and profit from the use of their images” (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 10/6).

ESPN has struck a deal to make liquor company Diageo the presenting sponsor of both "Around the Horn" and "PTI," according to Brian Steinberg of AD AGE. The sponsorship will be highlighted as "Happy Hour," and will be “identified as such throughout the course of the deal, which lasts from this month through next September.” Diageo will “promote a number of different products throughout the course of its year-long sponsorship.” The deal also includes the comparative shows on ESPN Deportes, and the company initially “will highlight Guinness Black Lager on ESPN and Captain Morgan Rum on Deportes.” ESPN on its website will set up a "video hub" featuring clips from both "Around The Horn" and "PTI" on its site, which also will be sponsored by Diageo. ESPN President of Customer Marketing & Sales Ed Erhardt noted Diageo has been “a long-time sponsor” of "PTI." Steinberg noted Diageo’s media agency, Carat, “thought taking a more noticeable stand in the programs' time slot would help get a message out to ‘young men of a drinking age, 21-plus, before they were going to go out and do what they were going to do.’" Kantar Media reports Diageo spent “around $21.7 million across ESPN's properties in 2010” (, 10/5).

Montana-based Sun Mountain Sports has been selected as the official outerwear provider of the '11 U.S. Presidents Cup team, marking the second straight time the company will sponsor the U.S. team in the biennial event. The team will be outfitted in custom-designed rain jackets and pants based upon a new line of Sun Mountain rain gear incorporating a breakthrough stretchable woven fabric (Sun Mountain). YAHOO SPORTS’ Jonathan Wall noted the U.S. Ryder Cup team last year wore Sun Mountain rain suits, which “did nothing but soak the precipitation up like a sponge, forcing the team to buy new waterproofs for the rest of the week.” The fact that Sun Mountain “is getting a chance to redeem itself after the incident tells you a lot about the confidence U.S. Presidents Cup captain Fred Couple has in the product” (, 10/5). The PGA of America in January signed a deal with Quebec-based Sunice to supply rain suits for the '12 Ryder Cup (THE DAILY).

MLB Giants P Brian Wilson will star in a new Taco Bell commercial debuting during TBS' coverage of Tigers-Yankees ALDS Game Five tonight. The ad is called "Closer 2.0" and follows the QSR's ad during the '10 MLB postseason that featured Yankees P Mariano Rivera and manager Joe Girardi. The spot will air on TBS, TNT and Fox throughout the playoffs, as well as on ESPN. Taco Bell has been the official QSR of MLB since '04. Wilson also appears in a new online video promoting 2K Sports' recently released video game, "NBA 2K12." The spot, which continues with 2K's "Greatest Debate" theme, depicts Wilson dressed in Larry Bird gear, arguing that the '85-86 Celtics were the greatest NBA team of all time (THE DAILY).

COMMERCIAL APPEAL:'s Joe Posnanski reviewed the ads currently running during the MLB playoffs and wrote the Audi commercial starring former NBA coach Phil Jackson is the best of the postseason and "might be the best sports-commercial performance since the heyday of Peyton Manning." The Capital One ad featuring NBC's Jimmy Fallon is "probably the second-worst commercial on the playoffs right now," as it is "annoying and contemptible on about 548 different levels." He named the worst ad an AT&T spot in which a wife tells her husband she should have married someone else when he makes a "huge financial commitment without checking with her first." Posnanski: "I have never seen two less likable people in one commercial. The man looks like the sort of guy who would break your lawn mower and keep promising to pay you for the repairs. The woman makes Nurse Ratched look like Florence Nightengale" (, 10/5).

YOU FEELING LUCKY? The Dolphins and the Florida Lottery are giving fans "a chance to cash in on a new game." The Dolphins Fin-tastic Fantasy 5 Football drawings will start Oct. 12 and run through Dec. 6 with fans who buy a regular Fantasy 5 lottery ticket receiving a "voucher with a serial number that can be entered on the Florida Lottery's website for a chance to win Dolphins experiential prizes, including season tickets and a 2012 Ford Fiesta" (, 10/4).

TAKING THEIR 'CUSE: Maverik Lacrosse has signed MLL Rochester Rattlers MF Jovan Miller to an endorsement deal. Miller, who was a two-time national champion at Syracuse Univ., will be featured in Maverik print, online and grassroots campaigns throughout the upcoming MLL season (Maverik).

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