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Volume 24 No. 112

Marketing and Sponsorship

SI is projecting an 8% increase in "advertising revenue this year from its Swimsuit properties, extending a wave of growth for the franchise," according to Eric Fisher of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. Today's release of the annual magazine will be "joined by a battery of multiplatform extensions, including content for the iPhone, iPad and Android, Kindle and Nook platforms, additional material on and a making-of TV special tomorrow night on VH1." SI execs said that the company has "registered solid growth in its Swimsuit business metrics the last three years." However, this year's increase is "smaller than last year's." SI will "gain 55 percent of its Swimsuit advertising revenue this year from print, 31 percent from online, 10 percent from experiential and event marketing, and 5 percent from inventory within smartphone and tablet applications." The split is "similar to last year, though apps moved up from a negligible share in 2011." The print edition of this year's magazine will "contain 211 pages overall," 82 of which will be ads. The number of ad pages is "down by four from last year but up by five" from '10. Several athletes are "again part of the Swimsuit edition," includes U.S. women's national soccer team F Alex Morgan and Gold Medal-winning U.S. swimmer Natalie Coughlin (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 2/13 issue).

UPTON GIRL: Kate Upton will appear on the cover of this year's SI Swimsuit Issue, which was revealed on last night’s edition of CBS’ “Late Show.” The show had a camera outside filming a large billboard on Broadway that featured the next cover model but was covered by a large tarp with “Late Show with David Letterman” emblazoned on it. Host David Letterman asked a show staffer midway through the broadcast, “Why do have to wait until later? Why can’t we just do it now?” The staffer responded, “The girls aren’t ready.” Laughing, Letterman replied, “Well, the minute the girls are ready someone please let me know.” As the 10 models who read the “Top Ten” list were sitting in the Green Room, Letterman spoke with them and said, “It’s nights like this I wish we had a ‘Top Twenty.’” Letterman asked the girls, “When the winner is announced, will you all act like you’re happy but really be steamed? Will you do me a favor? When we announce the winner, will the other nine of you storm out? Turn over the furniture … (and) wreck the place” (“Late Show,” CBS, 2/13).

Bridgestone and IndyCar yesterday announced that Firestone will remain the IZOD IndyCar Series' official tire through at least ‘14, and the brand will also serve as title sponsor and official tire of the developmental Firestone Indy Lights series this year. As part of the agreement, talks are already underway to extend the IndyCar Series sponsorship beyond ‘14. Firestone has competed in every IndyCar race since the series was created in ‘96, and it has been the official tire and sole supplier since ‘00. The Firestone Indy Lights contract expired at the end of ’11. Per the agreement, Firestone will continue to support the series through broadcast, digital and print advertising; at-track hospitality; title sponsorship of the Firestone 550k at Texas Motor Speedway; and official tire designation at events. Firestone will also have an enhanced presence at the IZOD IndyCar Series Fan Village (IndyCar). SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL’s Tripp Mickle reports IndyCar also announced “a new five-year agreement with Discover, which will develop a series credit card.” It is the “first partner the series has had in the category since 2006 when it had a deal for affinity cards with MBNA.” Financial terms of the agreement were not available. Discover signed on as the credit card provider for IndyCar with First National Bank of Omaha, which will “issue a series of two IndyCar-themed credit cards.” Meanwhile, IndyCar has signed a deal with Fuzzy’s Vodka as well as a "new merchandising agreement with retailer Lids.” The Lids deal will put IndyCar merchandise “in more than 1,000 retail outlets nationwide,” and the company also “will take over management of IndyCar’s online merchandise sales.” IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard said that sponsorship revenue is “on track to increase 5 percent from a year ago, and he expects that percentage to rise as more deals are signed during the season” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 2/13 issue).

MOVING FORWARD:’s David Malsher noted Bernard during his ‘12 State of IndyCar address “ended the night with a pointed, confident message about the series' future and an attempt to deflect criticism.” Bernard said, “There were critics who said IndyCar was heading for doomsday and that the series would be out of business within two years. It just had one of the best financial years in its history. We heard some snickering about the new car from the ICONIC committee, but we're very proud to say we have Honda, Chevy and Lotus here tonight.” He added, “We faced doubt over the size of our field, having only 18 cars amid the economy. But wrong again. We are very excited to have a minimum of 26 cars compete in IZOD IndyCar Series in 2012. There's also been constant speculation about me. I will be with IndyCar as long as the Hulman/George family wants me. I will keep that promise I made when they gave me this opportunity. No one could deny we haven't made mistakes. We have. But our goal is to better it, and make it stronger. Let's sit back, buckle up and hold on tight, because 2012 promises to be a hell of a ride” (, 2/13).

Ten days into Knicks G Jeremy Lin’s "rocket ride to fame there remains no playbook on containing the runaway popularity of the new hottest marketing commodity in pro sports," according to Morgan Campbell of the TORONTO STAR. That is "great news for the NBA, which hopes Lin ... can replace the retired Yao Ming as an ambassador to the lucrative Chinese market." It is also "wonderful news for the Knicks." Fuzion Marketing Group Founder & CEO Quency Phillips said, "All of the sponsors are going to pile on right now, especially as he’s riding this wave. There’s nobody else out there like him. It’s the perfect groundswell of everything." Campbell notes several varieties of Lin T-shirts and jerseys yesterday "remained sold out," and he had the "top selling T-shirt at’s online store" (TORONTO STAR, 2/14). USA TODAY's Tom Pedulla notes Lin is Fathead's "No. 1 seller, overtaking" Patriots QB Tom Brady. Lin's agent Roger Montgomery said that endorsement deals are "pouring in" (USA TODAY, 2/14). ESPN's Kristi Dosh said she expected Lin to “get some deals” on the local level, but it is "far too soon to see a big, national company feature him in an advertisement, unless they’ve got a one-off spot they can do quickly to capitalize on this buzz” ("Outside The Lines," ESPN, 2/13). N.Y.-based 5W Public Relations President & CEO Ronn Torossian: "If Jeremy Lin is the real deal on the court, expect him to be the most popular athlete marketer off the court for many years to come. This young man will be the face of the NBA -- and surely the face of many mainstream, major brands. ... Jeremy Lin is a marketer’s dream -- and to top it all off he is playing in the biggest media market in the world" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 2/14).

A CINDERELLA STORY: ESPN Radio 1050 N.Y.’s Spero Dedes said Lin's rise to stardom is "so improbable." Dedes: "This kid was a day away from being cut by the team. ... All the factors of it, you just feel like a Disney movie, like they went out and signed some kid off the street with his unexpected game. He’s completely reversed the fortunes of a franchise that’s been ... bankrupt and looking for an answer it seems like for the last 10 or fifteen years.” Dedes called the atmosphere at last Friday's Lakers-Knicks game at MSG "surreal." Dedes: "I was kind of looking out into the crowd, and looking at the expressions on the faces of the fans in the building and I saw one woman who looked like she was in tears. I saw other people hugging each other. ... It was completely surreal in every way to see what this kid was doing." Meanwhile, ESPN's Ric Bucher said, "I just hope that if he falls off a little bit that people aren’t going to go the other way, you know the classic build up, tear down” (“The Scott Van Pelt Show,” ESPN Radio, 2/13).

CATCHING COLBERT'S ATTENTION: Last night’s edition of Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” featured host Stephen Colbert saying, “As much as I loves me the football, I cannot get enough of professional ball in hoop.” He noted, "Like all true New Yorkers right now, I am caught up in the tidal wave that is New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin. This kid ... has singlehandedly done the unthinkable: Made people want to watch the New York Knicks.” Colbert said of broadcasters saying Lin “came out of nowhere” before playing with the Knicks, “Yes, he came out of nowhere, which is my nickname for Harvard.” Colbert said “Linsanity” has “caught the NBA off-guard: All the Jeremy Lin jerseys that were on the shelves sold out because there weren’t any." Colbert: "Best of all, Jeremy Lin here is currently without a corporate sponsor, which means he’s in the market for endorsement deals. So Mr. Lin, in the spirit of Linsanity, I hope you will consider endorsing my line of premium Lin-oleum tile.” The tile featured Lin’s face on them. Another product was “Jeremy Lint,” a plastic bag filled with lint. Colbert: “As we speak, I am drying socks and towels as fast as I can to meet, what I assume, will be heavy demand” (“The Colbert Report,” Comedy Central, 2/13).

EPL club Liverpool today denied reports that the team apologized for F Luis Suarez' actions toward Manchester United D Patrice Evra Saturday as a result of "pressure from shirt sponsors Standard Chartered bank," according to the AFP. Suarez refused to shake Evra's hand after having "only recently returned from an eight-game ban for racially abusing" Evra. Liverpool subsequently apologized for Suarez' conduct but, having "steadfastly supported their forward up until that point, there were suspicions they had been pressured into taking action by Standard Chartered." Liverpool insisted today that Managing Dir Ian Ayre and manager Kenny Dalglish had "not been prompted by anyone from outside" the club. A team statement read, "Ian Ayre kept Standard Chartered fully informed of developments over the course of the weekend. The actions the club decided to take on Sunday were supported by Standard Chartered" (AFP, 2/14). In London, Andrew Clark notes Standard Chartered "criticised both the club and its striker." Reacting to Suarez' action, the bank issued a statement that read, "We were very disappointed by Saturday's incident and have discussed our concerns with the club." A source said, "It was a very robust conversation." Liverpool's shirt deal with Standard Chartered is "among the most valuable" in soccer history (LONDON TIMES, 2/14). Also in London, Ian Herbert notes a corporate sponsor "needing to question a player's conduct is rare in the extreme, though the call from a Standard Chartered director to Ayre reflects the bank's determination that its image should not be damaged by involvement in the sport" (London INDEPENDENT, 2/14).

BIGGER ISSUE: ESPN’s Bomani Jones said Suarez’ disrespect for Evra "is documented, but what I think is bigger is his disrespect for the entire campaign they’re trying to have to move past a lot of this racism you see in soccer." Jones: "For him to not shake Evra’s hand is not just saying that to Evra, it’s saying to everybody … and this is a big problem in English soccer” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 2/13).

Asics Europe President & COO Alistair Cameron said that the shoe company “plans a major TV marketing push across Europe,” as this is an Olympic year, according to Archibald Preuschat of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Of Asics' “four regional CEOs, three of them are non-Japanese, marking a serious attempt to bring in outsiders with marketing skills.” Cameron said, "What the Japanese do particularly well is making the best product. What Japanese companies haven't necessarily done well is establishing sales and distribution networks, robust ones, or marketed exceptionally well.” Cameron “points to Spain as proof” that a stronger media presence “will boost sales as well as brand awareness.” Market research firm Synovate found that brand awareness of Asics in Spain “rose by more than 7% after a TV campaign in March.” Preuschat notes Asics “is much smaller than rivals” Nike and adidas. Unlike its competitors, Asics “doesn't spend very much money on sponsoring athletes in exchange for promotion.” The ad campaign “aims to stress Asics' credentials as the footwear for serious sports performance, rather than trying to embrace both the serious sports market and the broader lifestyle sector.” Its "Made of Sport" media campaign “will target sports fanatics rather than casual users of sports goods.” That does not mean the company “ignores the lifestyle market,” as it intends to “to hive off lifestyle products to its second brand, Onitsuka Tiger.” Cameron: “We have a lifestyle part in our business, and it's not an insignificant part” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/14). will sponsor Phoenix Racing and Kurt Busch in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Daytona 500, as well as the season-opening Nationwide Series Drive4COPD 300. also will be a major associate sponsor of Richard Childress Racing’s No. 33 Chevrolet driven by Elliott Sadler for the Daytona 500 (Hendricks Automotive Group). Phoenix Racing “purchases cars from Hendricks and runs primarily Hendrick engines” (, 2/13). Busch joined Phoenix Racing after being dropped from Penske Racing following an incident with ESPN's Dr. Jerry Punch at the '11 Sprint Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. ESPN's Ricky Craven said of Busch, “He needs to embrace his new team, his new role. He needs to go to work and he needs to be quiet.” Craven said this season for Busch is “critical,” as NASCAR is a "sponsor-driven sport, and he’s not as appealing to the sponsors as he once was.” Craven noted that Phoenix Racing co-Owner James Finch “doesn’t have a lot of tolerance for bologna” so Busch needs to “go back to the old-school driving, focus on what got him to Sprint Cup Series racing.” Craven: “Be careful, Kurt, because James Finch doesn’t have a big sponsor. Drivers have security with big sponsors. That’s gone. He needs to be on the straight and narrow this year” (“NASCAR Now,” ESPN2, 2/13).

HITCHIN' A RIDE: YAHOO SPORTS’ Nick Bromberg noted NASCAR driver Michael Waltrip “will drive the No. 40 for Hillman Racing" during the Daytona 500. Hillman is a single-car team attempting make the Daytona lineup “for the first time.” Sponsorship “will come from Aaron's, a long time sponsor of Waltrip” (, 2/13).

The GLOBE & MAIL’s Susan Krashinsky notes Coors Light for the next two weeks “will appear in every Sportsnet medium as the exclusive sponsor of coverage” of the company's NHL trade deadline coverage. The deal with MolsonCoors “represents the first time that Rogers has successfully sold an advertising sponsorship across all five of its Sportsnet platforms: television, radio, Sportsnet Magazine, its websites and mobile application.” Rogers Media President Keith Pelley said that the “expansion of Sportsnet is a marketing play, attempting to sell advertisers on an ‘integrated’ bundle of sports media properties” (GLOBE & MAIL, 2/14).

FISH TALE: Bumble Bee Foods yesterday announced its launch of new interactive and web content featuring tennis player Mardy Fish. Over the next 12 months, Bumble Bee will unveil a series of documentary-style webisodes, articles and other content that chronicle Fish's journey to the U.S. Open. The first webisode serves as an introduction to Fish and his story. It features Fish's transformation and details, in his own words, what it took to get to the top of his game, both on and off the court. The monthly webisodes will follow Fish on his journey to the U.S. Open and have seasonal focused topics (Bumble Bee Foods).

NOTES: The Int'l Tennis Federation announced that it has renewed its deal with Wilson Racquet Sports as an international partner of the Davis Cup and Fed Cup. Wilson will remain the official ball of Davis Cup and Fed Cup for five years, starting in ’13. Wilson joined Davis Cup in ‘02 and added the Fed Cup in '06 (Wilson)....Danskin Triathlon series announced that it has signed a multiyear agreement that will make cycling brand Liv/giant the official bike for the series through ’14 (Danskin)