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Volume 24 No. 112

Marketing and Sponsorship

The MLS Fire are "in the process of finalizing a contract with Quaker Oats" to be the club's new jersey sponsor, according to sources cited by Ed Sherman of CRAIN'S CHICAGO BUSINESS. The deal is expected to total $7.5-8M over three years, starting with the '12 season. A formal announcement is expected this week. The Fire played without a jersey sponsor during the '11 season after Best Buy "declined to renew its deal after serving three years as the team's jersey sponsor." Best Buy reportedly paid the Fire "about $2.5 million to have its logo plastered on the front of the team's jersey" (, 1/16). In Illinois, Orrin Schwarz writes the deal "will be a major coup" for Fire Owner Andrew Hauptman and President Julian Posada (Illinois DAILY HERALD, 1/17). Listed below are the MLS clubs that currently have jersey sponsor deals (THE DAILY).

Chivas USA Corona Extra
DC United Volkswagen
Dynamo Greenstar Recycling
Earthquakes Amway
Galaxy Herbalife
Impact BMO
Real Salt Lake XanGo
Red Bulls Red Bull
Revolution United Healthcare
Sounders FC Xbox
Timbers Alaska Airlines
Toronto FC BMO
Union Bimbo
Whitecaps Bell Canada

NEW CONCESSIONS PROVIDER: Sodexo National Executive Serving Stadiums, Arenas & Convention Centers Martin Thorson has confirmed the Maryland-based concessions company has replaced Levy Restaurants as the team’s food provider at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill. Levy operated food service at at Toyota Park since the stadium opened in '06 (Don Muret, SportsBusiness Journal).

adidas Chair & CEO Herbert Hainer said that the company “declined to renew its apparel deal” with EPL club Liverpool because “the price was too high given the 18-time English soccer champion’s poor performance,” according to Tariq Panja of BLOOMBERG NEWS. Hainer said, “The gap between their performance on the field and what the number should be is not in balance.” Liverpool has not won an EPL title since '90 and currently sits seventh in the EPL standings. The club last April announced it had signed a six-year deal worth US$38.3M annually with Warrior Sports, a subsidiary of New Balance. The deal, Warrior’s “first major soccer contract, begins next season and is worth almost double the current agreement with Adidas.” Panja reported the deal with Warrior “may benefit the team further because it allows Liverpool to retain control over all merchandise not related to the clothing the team wears, something that it had ceded to adidas.” Still, it will “no longer be able to rely on the company’s vast global supply chain” (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 1/16). The London TELEGRPAH reports Liverpool’s current deal with adidas “expires at the end of the season after talks over an extension collapsed last year.” It had been suggested that Liverpool “voluntarily ended the agreement with adidas after a dispute about control over merchandise not related to the team’s kit.” But adidas “dismissed that claim, insisting the club were demanding unrealistic levels of money for the success they were enjoying on the field” (London TELEGRAPH, 1/17). Meanwhile, Liverpool has announced a nine-year plan to renovate its current stadium instead of building a new venue.

M&M’s will “introduce a character to represent brown M&M’s named Ms. Brown” in a commercial airing during NBC's broadcast of Super Bowl XLVI on Feb. 5, according to Stuart Elliott of the N.Y. TIMES. Ms. Brown will be “the sixth computer-animated mascot for the brand, following walking and talking versions of the red, yellow, blue, green and orange M&M’s.” She is the “second female in the M&M’s cast, after Ms. Green.” The commercial, via BBDO, N.Y., is “scheduled to run in the first quarter" of the game. In a “teaser effort that begins this week, Ms. Brown will arrive in social media, taking over the M&M’s fan page on Facebook, at, and sending messages on Twitter, where the character will have her own account with the handle @mmsbrown.” There will also be “print, online and mobile ads as well as a deal to incorporate Ms. Brown into the radio program ‘Elvis Duran and the Morning Show,’ syndicated by the Premiere Networks." Other elements include events in L.A. and N.Y., “displays in stores, radio commercials and appearances for Ms. Brown during episodes of the new season of ‘The Celebrity Apprentice’ on NBC, which begins on Feb. 12” (N.Y. TIMES, 1/17).

MAKING ITS SUPER BOWL DEBUT: H&M will make its debut as a Super Bowl advertiser with a 30-second ad during the second quarter of NBC's telecast promoting the new David Beckham Bodywear collection. The spot also marks Beckham’s debut into the Super Bowl ad line-up. The nine-piece Bodywear collection will be introduced on Feb. 2 in 1,800 H&M stores worldwide. H&M’s ads are all produced in-house at the company’s HQs in Sweden (H&M).

HE'S THE ONE THEY CALL DR. FEELGOOD: USA TODAY’s Laura Petrecca reports model Adriana Lima, rock band Motley Crue and MMA fighter Chuck Liddell will appear in Kia's 60-second Super Bowl ad for its Optima Limited car, with the idea being “one man’s fondest dream.” Kia Motors America VP/Marketing & Communications Michael Sprague calls it “the ultimate man’s dream.” However, he is “quick to add ‘but it’s not offensive to women, either.’” Petrecca notes the ad will launch “in movie theaters Feb. 3, and Kia will also air 15-second teaser ads on TV beforehand.” The automaker also will “leverage the Twitter and Facebook followings of the ad’s stars.” Kia joins fellow automakers Volkswagen, Audi and Honda in airing 60-second spots during the game (USA TODAY, 1/17). Petrecca notes carmakers, shopping services and tiremakers “hold about two dozen of NBC’s 70 30-second slots” for the game. Super Bowl veterans like Chevy, Hyundai, and Bridgestone “are back, while brands such as Lexus plan game debuts.” However, with “dozens of rivals in the game … car companies are working hard to make investments pay” (USA TODAY, 1/17).

DRIVE FOR SHOW: VP/Marketing Carolyn Crafts said some of the things the company is doing "online right around the Super Bowl are high-impact placements." Crafts: "We will be doing those right after the Super Bowl on sites that have strong sports presence. You can imagine what those might be.” Meanwhile, Crafts noted the company will begin a campaign with ESPN that "rolls out during the week after the Super Bowl in particular." Crafts: "The campaign is a combination of some high-impact placements, including video, as well as some mobile placement. Mobile integration is pretty important to us and we try to find ways to showcase that in our TV advertising” (CABLEFAX DAILY, 1/16).

Lacoste yesterday announced it has signed U.S. tennis player John Isner to a four-year deal in which Isner will become a brand ambassador both on and off the court (Lacoste). SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL’s Daniel Kaplan notes Isner had “worn Nike since even before his college days” at the Univ. of Georgia, but his deal with the company “expired at the end of 2011. Lagardere Unlimited's Sam Duvall, Isner's agent, said that the main interest in Isner "came from Lacoste and several Chinese brands.” Duvall added that Lacoste’s “prime interest in Isner may not necessarily be his tennis, but his height.” The company recently launched a big and tall line, and Duvall said that the 6' 9" Isner “is expected to be part of those marketing efforts.” Kaplan notes the deal will guarantee Isner “around mid-six figures annually, though performance could significantly increase the amounts well into the seven figures” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 1/16 issue).

Ravens LB Terrell Suggs during NBC's telecast of the Nov. 6 game against the Steelers referred to his alma mater as "Ball So Hard University," but Suggs' "failure to game-plan the moment with a lawyer has now become a scramble to recover the trademark," according to Eriq Gardner of the HOLLYWOOD REPORTER. Within a few days of the telecast, entrepreneur Brian Bussells "applied for a trademark on 'Ball So Hard University' so he could use the mark on T-shirts and other apparel." Suggs about 10 days later "attempted his own trademark registration," and the two now are "fighting over who gets to use 'Ball So Hard.'" Suggs is President & CEO of Team Sizzle Worldwide, which after registering a trademark had the company's lawyer send a "cease-and-desist letter to Bussells, who is also selling merchandise at" The legal notice "says that use of the mark is false and misleading, creates confusion, and also violates Suggs' rights of publicity." Gardner noted in Bussells' favor, he "got to the trademark office first and Suggs might not have been the first to use the mark in commerce" (, 1/16). In Baltimore, Steve Kilar noted three days after the November game, Suggs "showed up at a news conference wearing a Ball So Hard University T-shirt, telling reporters that 'there is some way you can get them … that has nothing to do with me.'" Bussells said that the shirt Suggs "wore that day had come off Bussells' press." The applications by Suggs and Bussells are "pending, and legal experts say they likely won't be taken up by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office before mid-February." Most of the other online sellers of Ball So Hard University products have "removed their wares, fearful of legal action by a football player with deep pockets" (Baltimore SUN, 1/14).

In Portland, Erik Siemers writes adidas last month “announced an agreement to be a sponsor and supplier for a series of scouting combines for collegiate rugby recruits as well as the USA Sevens rugby tournament, an international event held annually in Las Vegas and televised nationally on NBC.” adidas Dir of Soccer Antonio Zea believes he “is laying the groundwork to attach the Adidas brand to a sport he hopes will one day rise to match the popularity of soccer in the U.S.” Siemers notes the challenge for Zea in “recent years has been trying to convince Adidas why he should spend more time on the U.S. rugby market when 98 percent of his department’s revenue comes from soccer” (PORTLAND BUSINESS JOURNAL, 1/13 issue).

WHEELS & DEALS: The AP’s Michael Marot reported Dragon Racing confirmed British driver Katherine Legge “will finally be an IndyCar Series rookie” this season, as she has signed “a two-year deal with a one-year option" to drive for the team. Legge will be sponsored by TrueCar (AP, 1/16)....Driver David Ragan will be in the No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford during the '12 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. The team yesterday said that sponsorship for Ragan and David Gilliland's No. 38 ride "is still to be completed.” Ragan was “let go from Roush Fenway Racing when sponsorship from UPS was reduced and the organization scaled back to three full-time cars” (AP, 1/16).

CHIPS & PUTTS: Nike Golf yesterday announced that golfer Ross Fisher has signed a multiyear contract with the company effective immediately. Fisher will now exclusively play and wear Nike Golf products (Nike Golf)....Golf bag and apparel brand Ogio has added golfer Aaron Baddeley to its roster of athletes. Baddeley will be sporting Ogio’s collection of polos, pants, belts and outerwear during the '12 season. He will also work closely with the Ogio design team to develop future apparel collections for the golf retail market (THE DAILY).