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Volume 24 No. 92

Marketing and Sponsorship

Dollar General tomorrow is expected to announce it will "greatly increase its involvement in NASCAR, sponsoring both Sprint Cup and Nationwide series teams" next year for Joe Gibbs Racing, according to sources cited by Jim Utter of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. The company will be the "primary sponsor on driver Joey Logano's No. 20 Toyota in the Cup series for 10 to 12 races." That means The Home Depot, the primary sponsor of the No. 20 car since '99, "will relinquish roughly a third of the races." Dollar General also will be the primary sponsor for JGR's No. 11 Nationwide entry, as well was the "primary sponsor for several races for the Nos. 18 and 20 Nationwide teams." The company "likely also will continue its involvement" with JGR driver Kyle Busch's Camping World Truck Series team (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 10/12). The move comes less than a week after Dollar General announced it would not return as the sponsor of Turner Motorsports' No. 32 Nationwide entry (THE DAILY).

Gold medal-winning snowboarder Shaun White is “expanding his empire by launching the Shaun White Supply Co., which will sell skateboards, BMX bikes, helmets and pads, ramps and grind rails in sporting goods stores across the country and online,” according to Bernie Wilson of the AP. The line will officially launch “next Thursday in Las Vegas in conjunction with the final stop of the Dew Tour.” The skateboarding products are designed “by White and his older brother, Jesse, who helped design some of White’s snowboarding equipment sold by Burton.” White joined with sporting goods manufacturer D6 Sports “to launch his line.” White: “I’m going from scratch. We’re making all this really cool stuff” (AP, 10/11).’s Melissa Larsen reported White’s products will be available at sporting good stores “such as The Sports Authority and Sport Chalet, as well online" at White had been with Tony Hawk's Birdhouse company for his skateboard equipment, but White said he felt like he "wasn’t doing the relationship justice because I'm so focused on so many other things." White: "Instead of the old style of endorsement, of riding for a company that's already out there and trying to blend with their ad campaigns and style of product, I'm just creating my own thing.” He noted Burton was not nervous about him getting into snowboard production. White: “They're stoked. I'm in a long-term contract with them, and this doesn't cross boundaries. It's all skateboard and summer action sports products.” White added on potentially sponsoring athletes, “Maybe in the future? I'd love to see what's out there with young talent and give someone the start that they need to be a pro in this sport” (, 10/11).

Nike Brand President Charlie Denson yesterday said that the company “will continue to invest heavily in the world's most populous country, as the world's top sportswear maker plans to double sales in China by 2015,” according to XINHUA. Denson said, "We certainly will continue to invest in China, and very aggressively. We are very excited about the growth opportunities here." With more than 7,000 retail stores in China, Nike “plans to expand distribution to second and third-tier cities.” Denson said, "We will move west. ... We will continue to grow as we move into the lower tier cities -- athletes still want the same products." He did not confirm reports that Nike “will build a new campus in Shanghai, but stressed the company will certainly increase its presence there by recruiting more and developing more locations” (XINHUA, 10/11). Nike CFO Don Blair said that the company “hopes to roughly double China sales by 2015 to reach a target of $4 billion annually.” The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Laurie Burkitt noted in order for Nike to reach that figure, the company “plans to open more stores, put a renewed focused on recreational sports such as running and snowboarding, and emphasize its stable of local endorsers," including Gold Medal-winning hurdler Liu Xiang and tennis player Li Na. Nike already has “tapped into China's basketball craze, sponsoring NBA stars like LeBron James who are popular in China.” The company indicated that it “can build Chinese sales on its existing basketball fans, but its growth could be juiced if it can replicate an individual and team-sports culture like the one that exists in North America.” Burkitt noted the company last month “launched a running-gear collection inspired by Mr. Liu ... in hopes that he will inspire consumers to buy merchandise" such as the $141 Nike LunarGlide LiuXiang Storm Fly running jacket. To “build an appetite for snowboard apparel, it is planning in 2012 a snowboarding competition at a snowpark outside of Beijing and will build its own course” (, 10/11).

LI NING FALLING BACK: The FINANCIAL TIMES' Patti Waldmeir reported Li Ning in the latest rankings of the richest people in China “has tumbled from 64 last year to 291,” and the decline in fortune “mirrors that of the Olympic gymnast’s self-named brand, which last year had overtaken Adidas for second place in the Chinese sportswear market.” Li Ning CEO Zhang Zhiyong last year “was predicting it would be a top-five global sportswear brand by the end of the decade.” But Li Ning since has “seen its profits and share price plunge and is rethinking its ambitious branding strategy.” With “so few successful Chinese brands in the global marketplace, the trials and tribulations of Li Ning can be seen as a proxy for the fortunes of brand China.” The company's net profits “fell 50 per cent in the first half year on year, and its share price has fallen 57 per cent since the beginning of the year.” The company last year “unveiled a new logo, and a plan to reposition the brand as a near-direct competitor with global brands” such as Nike and adidas. But with many consumers “unwilling to follow a local brand upmarket, Li Ning appears to be returning to its cheap-and-cheerful roots.” It still holds a “slight advantage over Adidas in the China market led by Nike, but market analysts expect it to slip back to third place soon.” Zhang admitted that Li Ning “had lost loyal customers when it raised prices.” Meanwhile, Waldmeir noted adidas is “expanding aggressively into Li Ning territory in smaller Chinese cities, and aims to boost its presence from 550 to 1,000 cities by 2015” (FINANCIAL TIMES, 10/11).

The Broncos yesterday announced QB Tim Tebow will start their next game against the Dolphins on Oct. 23, and the NFL needs Tebow "to succeed," as what the league "lacks right now is star power," according to's Jay Caspian Kang, who wrote under the header, "Why The NFL Needs Tim Tebow.” Players like Brett Favre and Terrell Owens are "gone," and Colts QB Peyton Manning "will probably not play a meaningful down in 2011." The players “who drive the league’s narrative are mostly quarterbacks.” Patriots QB Tom Brady “taught the league that it was enough to be handsome, tall and excellent,” while Manning “made up for his unhandsomeness with a refreshing, yet ultimately staid style of sales comedy.” Saints QB Drew Brees “comes close, but his image is so wrapped up in New Orleans that it doesn’t quite translate to the greater market.” Tebow “might not become a great quarterback or even a good one, but he captures that country’s imagination in a way that strays outside of the league’s expected storylines.” While Brady “still appears to be in his prime, the days of him occupying tabloid headlines are over.” Kang: "If you take a hard look at the upcoming stars, who could really play a leading role in the NFL's ongoing drama? Philip Rivers? Matt Ryan? Joe Flacco?" Meanwhile, stars "work better in pairs,” and Panthers QB Cam Newton also “moves the needle." While the NFL “is marketed around teams and winning, can you think of one storyline that would be more compelling than Tebow vs. Cam?” Kang: “They both have already caught the attention of the country. They had that before they took a snap in the league. Now all they have to do is learn how to actually win a few games” (, 10/11).

A RUSH AT THE BOX OFFICE...IN MIAMI: In Ft. Lauderdale, Dave Hyde cites a source as saying that “more than 2,000 tickets sold” for Broncos-Dolphins yesterday “on the secondary market through sites like" after the announcement that Tebow will be the starter. That equaled “the previous six weeks of sales for the game.” Hyde writes, “You can count on your hand the number of players in team sports who sell tickets just by showing up. ... At some point, and soon, Tebow will have to win at the pro level to sell tickets. But for now in selected pockets like Denver and Florida, he’s a potential gold mine for the curtain going up on his season” (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 10/12). In West Palm Beach, Brian Biggane notes the Dolphins have planned to celebrate the Univ. of Florida's '08 national championship team on Oct. 23, and Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said that “those plans won’t change.” Neither Tebow nor Dolphins C Mike Pouncey, who were both on that UF team, “will participate in the ceremony.” The number of tickets remaining for the game was not available (PALM BEACH POST, 10/12).

EXCITEMENT CONTINUES TO GROW: GameDay Merchandising COO Marty Garafalo, whose company runs the Broncos' official team shops, yesterday said that there "has been a noticeable increase in sales because of the excitement” over Tebow being named the starter. Garafalo said that sales of Tebow merchandise “had slowed from the 2010 pace early this season, but the figures appear to be rising again, particularly in the sale of women’s No. 15 jerseys” (DENVER POST, 10/12).

The agents for Tigers P Justin Verlander and Lions QB Matthew Stafford said that prospective endorsement deals and corporate requests for their clients “are at an all-time high," as both players are enjoying a successful year on the playing field, according to Bill Shea of CRAIN’S DETROIT BUSINESS. Verlander, the odds-on favorite to win the AL Cy Young Award, “reached elite status this season, and one of the expected payoffs is lucrative endorsement deals locally and nationally.” Sponsorship measurement firm Joyce Julius VP/Research & Product Development Eric Wright said, “Looking back at San Francisco’s Brian Wilson and what he was able to do following his playoff performance last year might be a good indication of what Verlander could achieve, at least in the short term following some noteworthy successes.” Verlander is repped by SFX Baseball Group, and the agency has "new deals in the works and expect to announce one in [the] coming weeks.” The Tigers reaching the World Series “could help him reach the rarified air of elite endorsements.” Meanwhile, Stafford’s agent, IMG's Ira Stahlberger, said that corporations are seeking him out “for endorsements or appearances more in the past four weeks than any time" since being taken with the No. 1 pick in the '09 NFL Draft. Stahlberger noted Stafford has been "very measured" in the deals he has signed so far. However, Stahlberger adds, "We haven’t flat out turned them down. We’re going to wait and see. We’ll probably expand the roster of things we’ll support.” Sources said that Stafford “still has work to do before reaching Verlander’s level of fame -- and ability to command endorsements” (, 10/9). The endorsement deals for Verlander and Stafford are listed below. 

Phiten Nike
Reebok Power Balance
Rawlings Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan
2K Sports  
PLB Sports  
Tuff Toe  
Jim Waldron Pontiac Buick GMC  

USA TODAY’s Hiestand & McCarthy write NBA players’ endorsement opportunities appear “established” despite the ongoing lockout, and veteran players “are stable.” Younger players “are taking most of the hit from consumers.” Marketing Evaluations Exec VP Henry Schafer, whose company’s Q Scores measure consumer appeal of athletes and other personalities, said that Clippers F Blake Griffin, Bulls G Derrick Rose, Wizards G John Wall and Pacers F Danny Granger “dropped from an average of 21 in March to 14 last month.” Mavericks C Dirk Nowitzki was the “only NBA player with a rising Q score,” going from 18 to 25 during the same span, a “likely reflection of winning his first NBA title” (USA TODAY, 10/12).

:’s Tony Andracki noted Rose is organizing a basketball game Saturday "somewhere in Chicago,” and he will be “releasing clues via his Facebook page throughout the week with the details of the location and time of game.” Rose on his Facebook page Monday wrote, "To celebrate the launch of the adiZero Rose 2, I'm setting up a game this Saturday and am looking for some of my Facebook friends to come play with me and my crew." He will be posting clues on Facebook "letting you know where/when the game is and the password for entry." The first people to "get to the location on Saturday and that know the password will get a chance to play” (, 10/10).

THEY'RE GRRRRRRREAT! USOC sponsor Kellogg Co. yesterday announced details of its Team Kellogg's program, which consists of past, present and hopeful U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes. Per Kellogg's sponsorship with the USOC, Team Kellogg's athletes will share their personal nutritional habits and their favorite breakfast routines on the company's Facebook page. The athletes taking part in the promotion include MLS Red Bulls F Juan Agudelo, table tennis player Michael Landers, long jumper Dwight Phillips, TV commentator and former swimmer Summer Sanders, swimmer Rebecca Soni, Paralympic track & field athlete Casey Tibbs and beach volleyballer Kerri Walsh (Kellogg Co.).

PEG O' MY HEART: Toyota Canada has signed as a sponsor of the NHL Jets in the team's inaugural year in Winnipeg. As part of the deal, Toyota receives brand placement on the Jets’ website, an in-ice logo, a camera-visible rink board and a logo featured on the backdrop behind the visitor’s bench. The company also serves as the club’s media backdrop. A 30-second promo spot for Toyota ran on the arena’s scoreboard during the Jets' home opener Sunday against the Canadiens. Toyota Canada Managing Dir Stephen Beatty noted the company will also promote the ’12 Camry this season (Toyota Canada).