Despite the NBA's tentative CBA deal, MillerCoors spokesperson Pete Marino indicated that the company "is still withholding payments from the 11 NBA teams it sponsors," including the Mavericks and Heat, according to Michael McCarthy of USA TODAY. Marino said, "We are in discussions with all of our partners on our marketing plans. We'll begin making payments -- as soon as a lot of details get ironed out." The tentative agreement calls for a 66-game regular season, which is "16 fewer games than the normal 82 games and 8 fewer home games." McCarthy wondered, "Is MillerCoors telling NBA clubs it wants a discount from clubs that will end up playing 20% fewer games this season?" Marino said, "Perhaps. Not necessarily. This is all fresh information. We're looking to get to the table and talk to these teams. Hopefully in the next couple of weeks we'll start putting pen to paper and get our plans ironed out." McCarthy noted MillerCoors is "only exclusive with the Bucks," and "shares beers sponsorships on the 10 other clubs." It is likely "withholding anywhere from a couple of hundred thousand dollars -- to a few million dollars -- from its 11 partners" (USATODAY.com, 11/30).
Marketing and Sponsorship
NHL merchandise sales for the past three years "have experienced double-digit growth, including a 15 percent jump last season ... and 15 percent again so far this year," according to Jean Palmieri of WOMEN'S WEAR DAILY. Reebok Sports Licensed Division Dir of NHL Merchandise Keith Leach said that five years ago, the business "was 'dominated by jerseys,' which probably accounted for 75 percent of all sales." Today the business "has 'matured,' and jerseys are now 50 percent of the mix, with lifestyle apparel and footwear the remainder." Leach said that the looks that are "connecting with customers are the better quality, retro-inspired graphics and 'washed-out garments.'" NHL Group VP/Consumer Products Licensing James Haskins said that the "sales on Black Friday were 41 percent above last year while sales for the entire weekend rose 48 percent." In addition, the NHL and Reebok earlier this year "formed a partnership with Champs Sports to install in-store shops in locations in the U.S. and Canada." The NHL said that within two weeks of installation, Champs "reported a 300 percent increase in sales in the U.S and 40 percent in Canada." Haskins said that the product "is essentially sold out." Palmieri noted the league "has had success online as well, with sales at shop.nhl.com up 21 percent from last year, led by the Winnipeg Jets, Boston Bruins championship and Hockey Fights Cancer merchandise" (WWD.com, 11/30).
IMG's Collegiate Licensing Co. division announced yesterday that it is cooperating with the U.S. Department of Justice, which has "opened an investigation into the $4.5 billion college licensing business," according to Michael McCarthy of USA TODAY. CLC Senior VP & Managing Dir Cory Moss said that the feds had "opened a preliminary inquiry in how colleges and universities select which companies they license and how they determine their royalty rates." IMG's CLC is the "biggest player in the business, representing more than 200 collegiate properties." The company works with "more than 3,000 licensees nationwide." Moss said that the federal probe "could be related to a letter sent by a Washington, D.C., law firm to IMG Collegiate and 27 Football Bowl Subdivision schools this spring demanding they stop what the law firm alleged was a 'concerted effort' to limit the number of manufacturers that are licensed to make collegiate apparel items" (USA TODAY, 12/1).
In Milwaukee, Don Walker noted Heat F LeBron James uses the lip balm Carmex as "part of his pregame ritual." As a result, Bolin Marketing Senior Account Exec Jeff Gerst "reached out to LRMR Marketing & Branding ... and suggested a collaboration." James on his website "invites fans to 'Share Your Game' and write how Carmex helps them in their daily lives." The fans "then become eligible for prizes." Gerst said that the "intent of the campaign is to drive social media impressions about Carmex and James." He added that the campaign "may expand into convenience stores around the country." Gerst "declined to say how much Carmex, which is privately held, is investing in the deal" (JSONLINE.com, 11/30).
NO PRO COMBAT REPEAT: In Georgia, Marc Weiszer noted there will "be no repeat of the Nike Pro Combat uniforms" for Univ. of Georgia when the team plays LSU Saturday in the SEC championship game. UGA football coach Mark Richt said, "No Pro Combats. Nobody even asked me. A couple of them we’re like 'Don’t do it coach.'" Richt "promised the players before the 35-21 loss to Boise State to open the season that if they made it back to the Georgia Dome for the SEC championship, he would let them wear it again." Richt: "I thought that would be a really nice incentive. As it turned out, it wasn’t much of an incentive" (DOGBYTESONLINE.com, 11/30).
PAST HIS SHADES: GOLF.com's Woody Hochswender noted golfer Rory McIlroy has "done a lot to raise the golf profile of Oakley." Oakley "recently gave a preview of what McIlroy will be wearing in upcoming tournaments, including the Masters." McIlroy will be "decked out in stronger colors, plenty of sharp, abstract print shirts ... and specially developed plaid-print golf trousers the company calls 'fractured plaid.'" Both McIlroy’s shirts and the plaid pants "employ body mapping, the strategic placement of mesh panels to facilitate ventilation and movement" (GOLF.com, 11/29).
TURN UP THE HEAT: In Portland, Kerry Eggers notes T'Wolves F Kevin Love has a new six-year endorsement contract with Chinese shoe company 361 Degrees. Love said, "It was a too-good-to-be-true offer. I couldn't turn it down" (PORTLAND TRIBUNE, 12/1).