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Volume 24 No. 156

Marketing and Sponsorship

Hyundai has “made a name for itself in recent years by aggressively marketing while the recession forced some U.S. rivals to the sidelines," and the car company "believes it has an opportunity to do something different: Make Super Bowl ads that are really tailored for the Super Bowl,” according to Brian Steinberg of AD AGE. Hyundai Motor America VP/Marketing Steve Shannon said, "We're making Super Bowl spots. We need to get that headset on. The bar is high." Hyundai has two spots during NBC's broadcast of Super Bowl XLVI on Feb. 5, as well as “a 60-second commercial leading into the kickoff.” Shannon indicated that Hyundai “wanted to focus more on sparking an emotional connection with consumers and perhaps less on regaling them with practical reasons to buy.” Steinberg noted the upcoming Super Bowl appearance “will be Hyundai's fifth.” Shannon acknowledged that the car maker is “under some pressure to compete in the Super Bowl, not only against the recent glut of auto pitches that have filled the game but also with other veterans of the ad contest, including Pepsi and Coca-Cola” (, 10/20).

LSU will "roll out its Nike Pro Combat uniforms for the first and only time this season" for its game Saturday against Auburn, according to Scott Rabalais of the Baton Rouge ADVOCATE. LSU Equipment Manager Greg Stringfellow said that Nike’s designers "tried to incorporate a classic look from LSU’s Chinese Bandits days of the late 1950s with a color scheme that evoked impressions of a white tiger." The result is a uniform "that is almost completely white from head to toe." The helmet is "white with a faint tiger-stripe pattern blended in and purple and gold stripes down the middle." Purple and gold stripes are also "on the shoulders, though in both cases the gold is a deeper color than the yellowish-gold LSU usually wears." A tiger-stripe pattern "is also worked into the purple numbers." Stringfellow said of Nike, "They do a lot of research, and it basically was one of the options we had in mind." Rabalais notes Saturday will be the second time LSU has played in Nike Pro Combat gear -- the first was against Arkansas in '09. While LSU "pays for most of its traditional football gear from Nike," Stringfellow said that the company is "supplying all of the equipment and clothing free for this game, from helmets down to socks and even T-shirts" (Baton Rouge ADVOCATE, 10/21). In New Orleans, Luke Johnson notes the "most unique parts of the uniform are its accessories." Players will wear gloves that "make the 'Eye of the Tiger' logo when players put their hands together, and specially designed purple-and-gold cleats." LSU WR Russell Shepard said, "We look at it as an accomplishment. We worked our butt off to get notoriety from Nike, and the top teams wear these styles of uniforms" (New Orleans TIMES-PICAYUNE, 10/21).

ONE AND DONE: Univ. of Michigan AD Dave Brandon said that the plan "to create a new road jersey" that would be worn only for last week's game against Michigan State "launched soon after the Spartans unveiled their special uniforms on Sept. 13." Brandon said that he called adidas, "discussed Nike's plan for MSU, and the apparel company got to work immediately to produce the Michigan road jersey." He "wanted the jerseys to be close to what the Wolverines wore" against Notre Dame earlier in the season during the first night game at Michigan Stadium. Brandon said, "It's not a marketing and merchandise strategy. It was to fire up the team as far as our own competitive edge." He added that Michigan "does not plan to become Oregon, wearing a number of different uniform combinations during the season." Brandon: "As far as I was concerned, this was a one-off thing. If our merchandising partners think there's a market and adidas wants to market the jerseys … that wasn't really the strategy" (DETROIT NEWS, 10/21).

EPL club Manchester United officials have "made the club among the most valuable brands in sports," and the club’s visibility has "allowed it to assemble a roster of more than 30 global corporate partners," according to Tariq Panja of BLOOMBERG NEWS. ManU's sponsors range from Aon and Nike to Malaysia-based brand Mister Potato, which last month signed a deal to become the team's official "savory snack partner." Mamee-Double Decker Deputy GM for Sales & Marketing Pierre Pang, whose company owns Mister Potato, said, "What's the pitch? Three hundred and thirty-three million fans globally, with close to two-thirds coming from Asia. That’s basically along the lines of where our strategy is: The vision of being Asian No. 1 for the potato snack segment." Panja reported the people "charged with selling the United brand work out of an office 200 miles south of Manchester in the London district of Mayfair." ManU Commercial Dir Richard Arnold said, "Our approach has evolved beyond a traditional sports club’s, to being far more like that of a conventional blue-chip company. To arrive at this position we have spoken to companies with reputations as the world’s leading marketing organizations to see how they approach promotion and sales." Panja noted the result is a strategy that "sells access to its stadium infrastructure to major sponsors, while offering limited territorial association rights to telecom and credit card companies." In the past year, commercial sales have "increased 27 percent, to more than 100 million pounds, while the value of the team’s corporate partnerships has risen tenfold" since '08. ManU has done it by "creating new forms of advertising inventory." Meanwhile, ManU's sales operation "dwarfs that of any of its rivals." EPL club Arsenal CEO Ivan Gazidis said, "Any team should look at them and learn" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 10/20).

MLB Senior VP/Licensing Howard Smith on Thursday said Cardinals "Rally Squirrel" gear has been a "shockingly large" part of the overall World Series merchandising business thus far, and that the gear will likely be a key part of the holiday-selling season should the Cardinals win the Series. Smith declined to specify percentages or sales totals to date, but he confirmed comments from outside retailers and concessionaires that keeping the items in stock remains a continuous effort. "This is another instance that shows the power of what can happen when the players get involved," Smith said. "This has become a rallying cry for them, and that in turn has really resonated with fans." Smith added it was difficult to compare the Rally Squirrel phenomenon to the Claw and Antlers craze that began last year for the Rangers since the latter was a season-long element while Rally Squirrel is less than three weeks old. Sales of fleece and other warm-weather gear have also predictably trended ahead of normal projections given the chilly temperatures in which Games One and Two in St. Louis were played (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal). In St. Louis, Kavita Kumar writes the “unexpected mascot of the Cardinals' postseason has been serendipitous for a whole host of area businesses and entrepreneurs,” as they now can “cash in on World Series fever without fear of violating any trademarks.” Businesses that “normally would need a license to sell Cardinals-related gear have flooded the market with all things rodent-related, from car decals to headbands to a myriad of T-shirts" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/21). In Ft. Worth, David Thomas reports there are "Rally Squirrel" and "got squirrels?" shirts for sale at Busch Stadium, and in "stores around town other T-shirts, including one with the Rally Squirrel underneath the Gateway Arch" that reads, "I Am Your Arch Enemy." There are also Rally Squirrel "foam fingers, with claws extended," selling for $14 at the ballpark, while a 64-ounce bucket of peanuts called "Rally Nuts" go for $9 (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 10/21).

BEWARE OF KNOCK-OFF GOODS: In St. Louis, Lisa Brown notes two dozen officials from MLB Properties' licensing group “spent the week in area shops and streets on the lookout for counterfeit merchandise.” Just prior to the start of World Series Game One, two MLB attorneys “spotted vendors hawking fake goods a few blocks from Busch Stadium.” Police “confiscated more than 1,100 counterfeit items from those vendors.” MLB Properties Senior VP & General Counsel Ethan Orlinsky said that the seizure was “larger than the amount confiscated during a single night of most World Series games” (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/21).

Heineken is “extending its status as official beer supplier and worldwide partner with the Rugby World Cup to cover the 2015 World Cup in England, in a move that will push its total investment in rugby past £100M,” according to Gemma Charles of MARKETING magazine. The agreement “continues the lager brand's long-standing association with international rugby, having first sponsored the Rugby World Cup in 1995.” The deal allows Heineken the use of Rugby World Cup 2015 “event marks and designations in promotional tie-ins, pouring rights around stadia at all official Rugby World Cup outlets, and most digital content rights to use across social media channels.” Heineken Chief Commercial Officer Alexis Nasard said the deal was part of the brand’s strategy to concentrate on "fewer, larger and high-quality properties to get the maximum benefit from our business investments" (, 10/21). Industry execs said that Heineken “has been the most effective official sponsor” of the ‘11 Rugby World Cup. Heineken “launched a TV campaign, in tandem with an on-screen ticker, activation in pubs and bars, a large fan zone in Auckland and digital agency Holler's ‘Live Kick’ smartphone app” (, 10/21). This is Heineken’s “fifth partnership with the event, having been a backer in 1995, 2003, 2007, and 2011” (, 10/20).