EA Sports has signed La Liga club Barcelona F Lionel Messi to a multiyear deal that will see him become the global face of the "EA Sports FIFA" soccer franchise. Messi will make his debut in March on the cover of "FIFA Street." He will become the cornerstone of marketing and advertising campaigns, featured on packaging and utilized in social media activities globally. EA Sports will also team up with the Leo Messi Foundation to support social, education and health care related initiatives for children around the world (EA Sports). In London, Matt Lawless noted Messi was "once the poster boy for rival computer game Pro Evolution Soccer until he was replaced" by La Liga club Real Madrid F Cristiano Ronaldo for this year's version (London DAILY MAIL, 11/25). Messi's debut promotional video for the "FIFA" game will air prior to the game's release. In London, Jim Munro noted in the video, Messi's character "can be seen demonstrating all his familiar flicks and tricks." The camera "then pulls back to reveal the man at the controls is none other than Messi himself" (London SUN, 11/25).
FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION: When asked what insights he has gained about leading and managing, EA CEO John Riccitiello said, "One of the things I would say is that you have to be absolutely genuine. You have to know what you truly believe and what you truly value, and it has to be undeniably consistent." He added, "You will fail. Failure is essential for success" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/27).
Chrysler Senior Manager of Marketing, Advertising & Product Communications Dianna Gutierrez did not speculate Friday on whether Lions DT Ndamukong Suh's "growing reputation as a dirty player will impact any future work he might do with the company," according to Eric Lacy of the DETROIT NEWS. Gutierrez in a text message said, "We have nothing to announce." Suh was ejected from Thursday's game for repeatedly shoving Packers G Evan Dietrich-Smith's head into the ground and stepping on his arm. Chrysler "uses Suh in its popular 'Imported from Detroit' advertising campaign." Subway, which also counts Suh as an endorser, "declined Friday to address Suh's on-field issues and the potential effect on endorsement deals." Suh's website lists him as also having deals with Nike, Omaha Steaks, Detroit Medical Center, Detroit City Sports, Battle Sports Science, Training Day and D1 Sports Training Therapy (DETROIT NEWS, 11/26). MLIVE.com's Aaron Foley noted "almost everyone in the Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Fiat-etc.-etc. stable of brand ambassadors has some blemishes on their record," including musicians Jennifer Lopez and Dr. Dre. However, they "aren't bad sportsmen." Foley: "Considering that Chrysler has had more than a few run-ins with bad publicity, hopefully there are some conversations in Auburn Hills about what can be done to prevent any more if Suh is reprimanded more than he has been already" (MLIVE.com, 11/25).
After two years of "injuries, lackluster play and damage control,” Tiger Woods now appears to be “turning a professional corner,” according to Ken Belson on the N.Y. TIMES. Woods this year has signed new sponsorship deals with Rolex and sports nutrition start-up Fuse Science, which will place its name on his golf bag beginning with this week’s Chevron World Challenge. Woods’ deal with Fuse also gives him “an undisclosed stake in the company, which has about a $40 million market capitalization and little brand recognition.” A golf agent and marketing experts said that the Rolex sponsorship is “worth far less than Woods used to command.” Yet the new deals are “a sign that the scandal’s effect has subsided and that Woods is slowly regaining the form that made him the world’s wealthiest and most recognizable athlete.” Baker Street Advertising Exec VP & Exec Creative Dir Bob Dorfman said, “Internationally, he’s been forgiven more quickly. It’s a good time to buy Tiger in that sense.” Fuse CEO Adam Adler said that the company “would start an e-commerce site this year,” and the product “will be sold everywhere” in the first quarter of next year. Woods said Fuse’s awareness “is not quite there yet, but that’s where I can explain it to people.” Woods: “What’s exciting here is getting in on the ground floor.” Woods said that “numerous companies had approached him about sponsorship deals.” Woods: “There really isn’t anything else out there like this, how the electrolytes get in to your system in 90 seconds.” Woods had scientists “confirm the efficacy of the gel product.” He “declined to say what he would do to promote the company.” He said that he “was in no hurry to sign any other sponsorship deals” (N.Y. TIMES, 11/25). Golf Channel's Gary Williams called Woods’ marketability "distressed." Williams: "The reality is that five years ago the idea this guy would be doing some type of advertisement or have a partnership with a Japanese pain balm medication is ludicrous. That’s the reality of his life right now” ("Morning Drive," Golf Channel, 11/28). TIGER TV: DAILY VARIETY’s Michael Ventre noted “many would say Woods has taken the business of televised golf with him down into the bunker.” Though the sport's core audience of “upscale men 35-64 remains substantial (and an attractive one for high-end advertisers), golf has lost a big chunk of the more casual viewers, including women, who would tune in only to see Woods in action.” Woods' popularity was “so singular that it's difficult to see any player able to pick up his mantle.” Former Oakland Tribune columnist Art Spander said, “Rory McIlroy seems like a good kid, with some charisma. But I don't think Americans will follow him like they do Tiger." Ventre noted the PGA Tour in September announced it “had agreed to contract extensions with NBC and Golf Channel (both owned by Comcast) and CBS that last until 2021, despite Woods' uncertain future.” While terms of the deals were not disclosed, sources said that the tour “managed to gain increases over its existing deals.” A “key reason for that may be due to the meteoric rise in sports rights.” PGA Tour Exec VP/Communications & Int’l Affairs Ty Votaw said that the tour “operates from a different business model than most sports, with a unique major sponsorship mix that includes financial institutions, insurance companies, automakers, pharmaceutical firms and golf equipment producers” (VARIETY.com, 11/26).
Reebok is "considering offering a shoe that fits the budget" of India's rural poor, with a price tag as low as $1 a pair, according to Preetika Rana of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Reebok Corporate Communications Manager Daniel Sarro in an e-mail wrote a pilot project is under way aimed at "testing the technical feasibility of producing a durable, functional and affordable shoe." He added the project is based on a "social business model ... tackling social issues through entrepreneurial actions and not by maximizing profit." Sarro did not "name a date for the shoe's introduction but said further information is expected later this year." Rana reported Reebook "took an exploratory step last year, offering 5,000 pairs in three villages in Bangladesh." The company in India has a "central headquarters, manufacturing facilities and a large enough staff to dedicate the time needed to develop the product and test the business model" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/25).
In N.Y., Tanzina Vega noted the IOC is “focusing the latest iteration of its promotional campaign on the 12- to 19-year-old market.” The campaign, called “Best of Us,” via Cole & Weber United, “continues the theme of previous Olympic campaigns that encouraged viewers to share examples of their ‘personal bests.’” One TV spot, called “Yellow Line,” shows athletes like U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps and Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt breaking records in the ‘08 Beijing Games and “non-Olympians reaching personal bests with a yellow line symbolizing the limits all of them have surpassed.” Viewers are “encouraged to visit a Web site, Olympic.org/showyourbest, to send in videos of themselves achieving a personal best and to vote on other submitted videos.” A second TV spot “will be created using footage from the entries received and will be distributed to Olympic broadcast partners to be shown” during the London Games (NYTIMES.com, 11/27).
TRAVEL INSURANCE: In London, Jacquelin Magnay noted travel company Thomas Cook is “facing financial woes but people who have purchased any of the 300,000 Olympic tickets from the travel agent, which is an official Olympic sponsor, can sleep safe.” LOCOG said that it “will honour the tickets purchased through the packages if the company goes belly-up and the packages are also covered by the travel agency collective ABTA's bond” (TELEGRAPH.co.uk, 11/24).
CASTLE WITHOUT RINGS: A proposal to display the Olympic rings on Edinburgh Castle “has been rejected” by Historic Scotland, the body which runs the visitor attraction. Historic Scotland said that it “will not allow the five aluminum rings to be displayed on ramparts on one side of the castle.” LOCOG “submitted a planning and advertising application to the City of Edinburgh Council on Monday November 7, proposing to display the Olympics logo before and during the event next year” (PA, 11/24).
AD AWARDS: AROUND THE RINGS' Ann Cantrell noted BP is “being honored for its Olympic television and media campaign.” Its ‘12 Olympic Ambassadors campaign “includes short films about disabled athletes who are training for the Paralympics.” BP was awarded with an Ability Media International Award “for this program that was hailed by the judges as inclusive” (AROUNDTHERINGS.com, 11/26).