EA Sports today announced that golfers Rickie Fowler and Rory McIlroy have been selected by fans to join Tiger Woods on the cover of “Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13” in the North American and European markets, respectively. Over 250,000 fans cast votes from more than 35 countries from Oct. 3-23. In the final week of voting, Fowler defeated Bubba Watson by a final margin of 52% to 48% to win the American side of the bracket while McIlroy defeated Luke Donald by a final margin of 54% to 46% to win the European side. Cover art of “Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13” will be released in November (EA Sports). THE BIG LEAD’s Barry Janoff notes this will be McIlroy’s second “PGA Tour” cover, having “shared the honors with Woods for ‘Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11.’” That was the “first time Woods did not get a solo cover on the product, the result of his personal life having spilled over into marketing decisions” (THEBIGLEAD.com, 10/24). Similar fan votes were held to determine the cover athletes for EA Sports' “Madden NFL 12” and “NCAA Football 12.” Browns RB Peyton Hillis beat out Eagles QB Michael Vick in the final round of voting for the "Madden" cover, while Alabama RB Mark Ingram was chosen for the NCAA cover over Auburn DT Nick Fairley, Oklahoma RB DeMarco Murray and Washington QB Jake Locker (CP, 10/24).
Marketing and Sponsorship
The Marketing Arm's Celebrity DBI test “asks respondents across demographic groups to rate celebrities in eight categories,” and results showed the Awareness category is where Broncos QB Tim Tebow "ranked the lowest,” according to Ethan Skolnick of the PALM BEACH POST. Tebow made his first start of the year yesterday in a 18-15 win over the Dolphins, and the Marketing Arm Account Dir Darin David said, “If he continues to start for the Broncos, and makes a big splash, makes big plays throughout the season, then his awareness will go up." David: "That’s the only thing that is really holding him down. All his other numbers are incredible, a testament to how he carried himself as a leader at Florida.” Skolnick noted Tebow’s highest ranking “actually comes in the Appeal category," where he ranks above Patriots QB Tom Brady and Cowboys QB Tony Romo. In the Breakthrough, Trendsetter and Trust categories, Tebow ranks ahead of not only Brady and Romo but also HOFers Troy Aikman and Dan Marino. David said, “The grandmother in Florida may not be paying attention to what he is doing in Denver, but if he is back in the spotlight again, those numbers could pop. He will be a really strong endorser” (PALM BEACH POST, 10/23). In Jacksonville, Chet Fussman wrote it is "clear that marketing people underestimated his intangibles and popularity." Tebow has only four career starts, but he is already at "near-iconic status in Denver (people bought billboards pleading with the Broncos to play him), and he was the focal point of the NFL on Sunday.” If Tebow played for his hometown Jaguars, “is it unreasonable to think he would have sold 10,000 or more season tickets, even if he was holding a clipboard as a backup QB? Probably not” (JACKSONVILLE.com, 10/23).
STRANGE SETTING: The announced attendance for yesterday’s Broncos-Dolphins game was 63,800, 11,740 under capacity at Sun Life Stadium. The Dolphins in the weeks leading up to the game had been promoting Tebow’s appearance and the halftime celebration of the ’08 Univ. of Florida national championship team, of which Tebow was a member (THE DAILY). In Miami, Greg Cote writes the setting Sunday “was strange -- probably the single weirdest home game the club’s 46 seasons.” Dolphins fans “now occupy the ‘Suck For Luck’ wing of the fandom and are now actively rooting for losses to gain the top pick" and the opportunity to draft Stanford QB Andrew Luck. Beyond that, “the Dolphins honoring the Gators on Sunday meant half of the crowd was cheering for the opponent’s quarterback.” At one point Tebow “busted off a 21-yard run and a huge cheer arose -- as if the game were in Denver, or in Gainesville.” The very next play Tebow was sacked by Dolphins S Yeremiah Bell “and Dolfans reclaimed the house with a roar just as loud” (MIAMI HERALD, 10/24). In Denver, Mike Klis writes there was “an odd crowd environment.” In the first half Dolphins DE Jason Taylor “exhorted the crowd to continue with their ‘Tebow Sucks’ chants.” But in the fourth quarter “as Tebow was doing his Tebow Thing, the crowd was chanting, ‘Tebow! Tebow!'” (DENVER POST, 10/24).
MLB and the Cardinals sold more than 11,000 units of "Rally Squirrel" merchandise at Busch Stadium during Game Two of the World Series Thursday, league officials said. Given the game's attendance of 47,288, that means nearly one in four people in the ballpark purchased a piece of the popular themed merchandise. "To have something like that just emerge and come out of whole cloth, so to speak, it's still nothing short of amazing," said MLB Senior VP/Licensing Howard Smith. Meanwhile, "Claw and Antler" and other Rangers gear continued to sell very well over the weekend at Rangers Ballpark, even though the club is making its second consecutive World Series appearance, which in some prior instances has served to depress merchandise demand. Lines were heavy throughout the weekend at stadium stores and merchandise stands. "You look around out here, and it's like the stuff is being given away," Smith said.
THE BIG LEAD’s Barry Janoff reported Chrysler UK has “signed a deal that makes it the NFL’s official car sponsor in the U.K.” Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. GM is the official auto marketing partner of the NFL in the U.S. The Chrysler deal “follows on the heels of Papa John’s signing an agreement to become the NFL’s official pizza sponsor in the U.K.” Chrysler said it will receive a “comprehensive rights package relating to the NFL’s assets and key events," including yesterday's NFL International Series game and the Super Bowl. The agreement also includes “exclusive broadcast sponsorship of Sky Sports’ live NFL coverage throughout the 2011 season” (THEBIGLEAD.com, 10/23).
GET ON THE BUS: The NFL launched a new “Play 60” ad yesterday that aired during the week's NFL coverage. The spot featured Panthers Owner Jerry Richardson driving a school bus taking kids, Panthers cheerleaders, the team's mascot and Panthers players and coaches to a workout field. The promo included QB Cam Newton, WR Steve Smith and coach Ron Rivera, among others. The spot’s announcer said, “Hop on the Play 60 bus and join the movement today at NFLRush.com” (THE DAILY).
BIZ BOOMING FOR BUSCH? In Charlotte, Jim Utter reports Kyle Busch Motorsports “will be expanding next season.” Busch announced on Friday that his organization “will field a full-time team in the NASCAR Nationwide Series next season, for which he likely will drive several races” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 10/22). Busch said that he is “only a few races shy” of having his No. 18 Camping World Truck Series entry “fully sponsored for next season” (SCENEDAILY.com, 10/21). YAHOO SPORTS’ Jay Busbee wrote the announcement “certainly answers questions of whether Busch would be able to sustain his team financially; he'd made comments earlier about the difficulty of sustaining his truck team, and in fact had to shutter one because of sponsor issues” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/21).
LINE 'EM UP! The Lightning announced the team has renewed its sponsorship with Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Florida as the exclusive health insurance provider. The team has also signed a new agreement with CDW, with the company providing more than 300 flat-screen, HD LG TVs as part of the St. Pete Times Forum’s $40M renovation. CDW as part of the deal will receive various marketing elements (Lightning).