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Volume 24 No. 116

Marketing and Sponsorship

The NHL has renewed its partnership with Discover Financial Services with a five-year deal. Financial terms of the deal were not available, but as part of the deal, Discover becomes the title sponsor of the NHL’s inaugural NHL on NBC broadcast on Thanksgiving Friday, Nov. 25. The broadcast of the Red Wings-Bruins game will be called the Discover NHL Thanksgiving Showdown. The NHL and Discover will promote the game with a float in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade the day before featuring Grammy Award-winning artist Cee Lo Green. The float, which is titled “Frozen Fall Fun” is designed to reflect a fall hockey theme. “We’re hoping to build a new platform from a viewership standpoint to reach a broader audience of casual sports fans,” said NHL Group VP/Integrated Sales Dave Lehanski. “The parade is televised on NBC, which makes it easier for us to create a tie to the game.” Discover had signed a one-year deal with the league last season to become the NHL’s official credit card in the U.S., and the partnership included a presenting sponsorship role of the '11 NHL All-Star Game in Raleigh. This season's All-Star Game is in Ottawa, and Visa is the league’s Canadian partner in that category. Discover VP/Brand Communications Jennifer Murillo said Discover was not specifically looking to gain ownership over an NHL event, but it was instead looking to broaden its involvement across the NHL’s major events. Discover will remain the official card of the NHL Winter Classic, NHL Awards and the NHL Draft, as well as the NHL All-Star Game on U.S. telecasts. Discover began running 30-second TV ads featuring Blackhawks C Patrick Kane and Bruins G Tim Thomas last night.

Transitions Optical notified the PGA Tour last week that it “would not renew sponsorship” of the Transitions Championship at Innisbrook Resort's Copperhead Course in Palm Harbor, Fla., when the contract expires after the event in March, according to Alex Miceli of GOLFWEEK. Transitions served as title sponsor for four years of the 12-year-old tournament. Transitions Optical Dir of External Affairs Connie Falvo said that the “relationship with the PGA Tour had helped the eyewear maker grow the brand and business.” Falvo: “We’ll continue to look at staying in all aspects of golf.” She noted the “possibility of continuing involvement in the Tampa-area event, just not as title sponsor.” Transitions also is the official eyewear of the PGA Tour, but “has not decided whether it will continue in that role when the contract expires at the end of June” (, 11/1). PGA Tour Exec VP/Communications & Int’l Affairs Ty Votaw said that there “already are discussions with potential sponsors.” He did not speculate on the event's future "if another sponsor cannot be found, or if another event would move into that slot in March.” Tampa has had “four title sponsors in the last 10 years” (AP, 11/1).

MITSUBISHI RE-UPS CHAMPIONS TOUR EVENT: The PGA Tour announced that Mitsubishi Electric has extended its marketing partnership and title sponsorship of the Champions Tour's season-opening Mitsubishi Electric Championship in Hawaii through '15 (PGA Tour).

Market research company NPD Group Chief Analyst Marshal Cohen said that basketball shoe marketers such as adidas, Nike and Under Armour, as well as national retailers such as Foot Locker, could “lose up to $500 million in sales if the 2011-12 NBA season is wiped out,” according to Michael McCarthy of USA TODAY. Cohen said that the amount is “roughly 25% of the $2 billion basketball sneaker market.” Cohen: "The impact would be huge. Out of sight, out of mind. If the players are not on the court, and the kids aren't thinking about them, they're not going out and getting their shoes." But SportsOneSource analyst Matt Powell “thinks the retail fallout from a lockout is overblown.” Powell: "Kids are still going to play basketball and they're going to need shoes regardless whether the NBA plays or not. Where brands could get hurt is exposing consumers to new styles." Powell believes that the company “hit hardest” would be adidas, which is about “halfway through an 11-year deal as official outfitter of the NBA.” Powell estimates that adidas “could lose up to half of its $250 million to $300 million in sales generated annually from licensed NBA merchandise.” adidas Senior Manager Stephanie Von Allmen said that despite the lockout, the company “is seeing strong sales from endorser Derrick Rose's new signature shoe, the adizero Rose 2.” She added that adidas' basketball business “grew 25% in the company's last fiscal quarter” (, 10/31).

IT NEVER ENDS: YAHOO SPORTS’ Eric Freeman noted Nike this past weekend debuted a new 90-second spot on the company's YouTube page called "Basketball Never Stops," and it “has quickly amassed more than 500,000 views.” What is “notable about the commercial, in addition to the stellar lighting and general craft, is its lack of reliance on the NBA” (, 10/31).

NASCAR driver Mark Martin is "expected to drive a part-time 2012 Sprint Cup schedule for Michael Waltrip Racing in the No. 00 Toyota currently driven by David Reutimann," according to sources cited by David Newton of Sources said that team owner Michael Waltrip "likely will drive all or a portion of the four restrictor-plate races at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway." MWR's lineup for '12 will be Martin, Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr. Sources said that an announcement "could come Friday at Texas Motor Speedway." The No. 00 at MWR "has a primary sponsor for next year in Aarons" (, 11/1). Martin’s business manager Benny Ertel said that Martin "has no deal completed with any organization at the moment." Martin recently said of the '12 season, "It is sponsorship driven, where I land and what I do. ... I am still hoping it is November or December and not January (when I finalize a deal)" (, 11/1).

PARTIAL SPONSOR: Stewart-Haas Racing yesterday unveiled the paint scheme for the Quicken Loans No. 39 car Ryan Newman will drive in '12. The Detroit-based mortgage lender signed a nine-race agreement with Stewart-Haas valued at more than $4M a year. At the announcement of the deal, team co-owner and driver Tony Stewart said that decisions by the U.S. Army and frozen snack brand Tornados to reduce the number of races they sponsored opened up an opportunity for Stewart-Haas to sign Quicken Loans (Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal). Newman's car "still needs additional sponsorship to fill out the entire 2012 season," and SHR "could announce another new partner as early as this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 11/2).

THEN THERE WERE THREE:'s Newton reported Roush Fenway Racing "expects to shrink from four full-time Sprint Cup cars to three in 2012." RFR President Steve Newmark said, "The most likely scenario is three. We're still plugging away at the fourth, but we all recognize the realities that when you're this late in the season it makes it more difficult to secure that." Carl Edwards' No. 99 car and Greg Biffle's No. 16 car are the only ones "fully sponsored for next season." Matt Kenseth's No. 17 car "has no sponsorship for 2012, and Newmark said 'nothing is eminent' but added RFR is prepared to run that car unsponsored if necessary." Newmark said that RFR "hopes to field two Nationwide Series cars, with at least one of them fully sponsored" (, 10/30).

In Milwaukee, Don Walker reported Jockey Int'l is "standing by" endorser Broncos QB Tim Tebow despite his on-field struggles so far this season. Jockey Dir of PR Mo Moorman in a statement said, "Jockey’s interest in him goes beyond football. He is dedicated to community service, and his work ethic, positive attitude and leadership skills are unquestionable." But Marquette Professor of Marketing Dennis Garrett said that the "situation could still spin out of control." Garrett said that the "danger for Jockey is if Tebow continues to be an object of ridicule in the national conversation." Garrett "cited the possibility that 'Saturday Night Live' might do a sketch of Tebow," which would put him in a "new spin cycle of criticism." Garrett: "Then it could bleed over and hurt the brand" (, 11/1).

VISITING GIFT: In St. Petersburg, Steve Huettel reported Tampa Int'l Airport and the Lightning "announced a marketing partnership Monday that gives people using TIA's parking facilities a chance to win four tickets to a Lightning game of their choice at the St. Pete Times Forum." One winner "will be picked at random each day at the exits to the parking garages through the end of the Lightning's season." As part of the marketing agreement, TIA "decorated two shuttles connecting the main terminal and Airside A with a photo wrap of Lightning players and the message 'Be the Thunder.'" Recorded shuttle messages from Lightning C Vincent Lecavalier "welcome arriving travelers and thank those departing for their visit." No money "will be exchanged in the deal" (ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 11/1).

SNACK ON THIS: DNA Brands, Inc., yesterday announced it will begin a month-long promotional program with the Dolphins that will highlight DNA's meat snack product at Walgreens' South Florida locations. The Dolphins designed and produced DNA-branded POS material, as well as features on the team website (THE DAILY).

DAVIS LOVE: IMG College has reached a multiyear agreement with UC-Davis to run the athletic department’s sales and marketing. The school will be serviced out of IMG College’s dedicated sales center in Winston-Salem, N.C., which is managed by Chris Bain. IMG College’s ticketing division now has 12 client schools (IMG College).