Marketing and Sponsorship
Thirteen years ago during a lockout, the NBA opened a store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan to sell licensed products and showcase its brand. Friday, in the midst of another lockout, the league opened another NBA Store on Fifth Avenue, five blocks south of the initial location. At just 6,000 square feet, it is some 29,000 square smaller than the original location, which included a basketball court, a scoreboard suspended from the ceiling and a life-sized Shaquille 0’Neal bobblehead. The original NBA Store closed on Feb. 13 after the league said the rates to renew its lease were not acceptable to the league. Friday, with almost no promotion, 25 fans were waiting on the sidewalk when the store opened at 10:00am ET. “I shopped at the other store half a dozen times in the last couple of years and I was just curious to see what the new place looked like,” said Daniel Weiss of Manhattan, enough of Nets fan that he was wearing a Nets wind shirt, cap and jersey, one of a dozen he owns. Weiss was one of the first to enter the store when it opened at a few minutes after 10:00am.
GOING INSIDE THE STORE: At least on its opening day, the league’s new emporium had an unfinished floor and little in the way of merchandising. Since the business model in this store was shifted to one where master NBA apparel provider adidas took the financial responsibility for the store, it seemed odd to find a shoe rack in the back of the store with 30 different models from Nike, Converse and Reebok, but none from adidas. However, the store had the requisite amount of licensed apparel, jerseys hoodies, T-shirts and caps. One person waiting outside the store commented the mannequin garbed in a Knicks uniform was the only place in town one could find a Knick in uniform. Women’s and kids apparel also had their own areas within the store. Outside of apparel, the store has hard goods ranging from a $5 pack of NBA playing cards to a $1,400 autographed and framed photo of Michael Jordan, airborne during a slam-dunk contest.
OPENING IN TIME FOR THE HOLIDAYS: The league is calling the store that opened today a temporary location, but one it wanted open in time to take advantage of holiday sales. NBA fans should hope that the recent optimism surrounding ongoing CBA negotiations is well founded. The first NBA Store opened in September ‘98 during a bitter lockout that was not settled until January ‘99 and forced the usual 82-game season to be curtailed 50 games and the cancellation of that year’s NBA All-Star Game.
NASCAR Chair & CEO Brian France said that it is "unrealistic to think NASCAR could emerge unscathed from the recession and the slow recovery," but amid the setbacks, he "sees cause for optimism," according to Erik Spanberg of SCENE DAILY. France said, "We’ve had a number of sponsors join us. We’ve had some leave. But the net has been a growth year for us. Now that doesn’t mean it’s easy. It doesn’t mean that the teams aren’t working a lot harder to obtain primary sponsorships or anything comes easy because the economy is still (bad), as we all know." Spanberg noted Sprint has two years left on its 10-year, $750M title sponsorship of the Cup series, and Sprint execs last summer indicated that they "hoped to renew the agreement, a notion France endorsed." France: "You’ve heard me say our goal is always to renew with the incumbent provided it’s a good fit for both companies. It’s certainly been that. So my goal is to ultimately get a renewal and those conversations are ongoing. We’ll see how it plays out." France said that he and NASCAR are also doing more to "help teams land sponsors, including joint sales pitches and greater collaboration." NASCAR has also launched a campaign to "bring technology and environmentally friendly companies into the sport, an effort that started with the addition of ethanol-blend fuel being used on the track this season." France said, "If you look at the typical companies that sponsor within NASCAR, you won’t see a lot of technology companies and you won’t see very many green companies. We’re trying to change that" (SCENEDAILY.com, 10/27).
SEARCHING FOR SPONSORS: In Jacksonville, Don Coble notes one of the drivers the economy has affected is David Ragan. As Ragan looks for sponsors and race teams, his schedule will be "filled with sales pitches, talking to car owners and finishing out the season in the No. 6 UPS Ford at Roush Fenway Racing." Ragan's UPS deal was "downgraded to a part-time sponsorship, and it moved over to fill in some of the holes on" driver Carl Edwards' car. Ragan said, "I can do Nationwide and wait for the economy to turn back around. Until then, I'll be meeting with sponsors and trying to put something together" (FLORIDA-TIMES UNION, 10/28).
Ball State Univ. has signed Mattingly Sports to an equipment and apparel deal for the baseball team. The deal, executed between Mattingly and Ball State coach Alex Marconi, represents Mattingly’s first college deal. Mattingly VP/Sales & Marketing Jim Bel Bruno said the company is focused on moving deeper into the college baseball space. Mattingly was founded in '05 by former MLBer and current Dodgers manager Don Mattingly and is based in Shelton, Conn. (Michael Smith, SportsBusiness Journal).
placement in ESPN Deportes' "El Diez"
SIGN HERE: In Albany, Pete Iorizzo writes NBA Kings rookie G Jimmer Fredette is "already inspiring several lines of merchandise.” The latest is a T-shirt that “features the contract Jimmer's older brother, TJ, asked him to sign when he was a junior at Glens Falls High School.” The shirts are made by Chris Collinsworth, a “BYU teammate of Jimmer's who owns Fold Clothing.” The shirts are “sold at foldclothing.com and Angelina's, which is the Fredette family's favored pizza joint in Glens Falls.” The company “gives 25 percent of its sales to charity” (Albany TIMES UNION, 10/28).
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION! In S.F., Scott Skinner wrote Packers QB Aaron Rodgers “may be the best quarterback in the NFL right now,” but when it “comes to filming his Associated Bank commercials, he’s still got a lot of room for improvement.” With Colts QB Peyton Manning out for the season, the “Best Commercial by an NFL Player” award is “up for grabs.” If Rodgers “wants to take the title, he’s going to need to step up his game a little bit” (SFGATE.com, 10/27).