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Volume 24 No. 154

Marketing and Sponsorship

adidas yesterday unveiled its adiZero uniform that will be worn by the men's basketball teams at Baylor, Cincinnati and Louisville during their conference tournaments and the NCAA tournament. The uniforms are on average 28% lighter than the schools' previous uniforms and adidas bonded the player names and numbers to the jersey to help reduce the overall weight. Louisville will debut its uniform during the Big East tournament today, followed by Cincinnati tomorrow. Baylor will debut its uniform during the Big 12 tournament tomorrow (THE DAILY). YAHOO SPORTS' Jeff Eisenberg graded the three jerseys and gave Baylor's a “D.” He wrote the “flashy lime green jerseys require sun glasses to stare at and the black and green ones simply are not aesthetically pleasing.” Cincinnati got a “B-plus,” as they "don't stray far from Cincinnati's traditional black, red and white color scheme.” Louisville’s grade was incomplete because adidas “only released the single picture of the gray jersey.” However, that color trend “is way overdone in college basketball these days and tiger striped jerseys simply make no sense for the Cardinals.” The colors and camouflage patterns “are a break with tradition for all three schools, yet there are obvious advantages to adopting a new look for March despite the inevitable angry letters from alumni that will surely pile up.” It provides the schools a “money-making opportunity since alternate jerseys introduce a new product to sell at campus shops or sporting good stores.” It also can “aid recruiting to send the message to prospects that they'll always be outfitted in the freshest, most up-to-date gear if they choose your school” (, 3/6).’s Jeff Borzello wrote Cincinnati and Louisville's uniforms “are pretty solid.” Borzello: “Then we have Baylor. I would say it's a disaster. … It's tough to look at for a long time.” Baylor also “had a black uniform released” yesterday, and “it's awesome” (, 3/6).

TWITTER REAX: CNBC's Darren Rovell wrote, "Uniform shocker of the day: Adidas has made Baylor basketball players highlighters for postseason."'s Bryan Fischer ‏wrote, “Baylor now looks like Oregon." USA Today's Nicole Auerbach wrote, "I don't mind Cincy/Louisville/Baylor's black uniforms. Think the neon yellow is a bit tennis ball-ish."'s David Ubben wrote, “The new Baylor Big 12/NCAA Tourney uniforms are OK, but the third alternates are by far the best."

Both adidas and Nike “are understood to be resisting attempts by the other to force athletes to break existing long-term footwear contracts in order to comply with team kit requirements” for the ’12 London Games, according to Paul Kelso of the London TELEGRAPH. The British Olympic Association is sponsored by adidas, and Nike athletes such as runners Mo Farah and Paula Radcliffe “will be expected to appear in their kit when they run for Team GB.” In the U.S. “the position is reversed,” as Nike sponsors the USOC. In the past, the two brands “have turned a blind eye to clashes, allowing athletes to mount the podium in their main sponsors’ trainers.” They are “on collision course for London, however, with both the American and the British teams insisting publicly that they will compel athletes to don full team [kits] on the podium.” Nike is “understood to be insistent that the USOC enforce its rules in London, and considers any attempts by Adidas to force Britain’s Nike-sponsored athletes to wear non-Nike shoes as effectively encouraging them to break their contracts.” Nike insists that athletes wearing their shoes is "not 'ambush marketing,' but it will leverage its athletes around the Games.” A source said that “the clash between footwear and Olympic kit deals was a ‘sticking point’ in negotiations.” This clause could explain why Nike in the U.K. “has run a major campaign in the first part of 2012 featuring Farah, Radcliffe, hurdler Perry Shakes-Drayton and world champion cyclist [Mark] Cavendish.” In the ads, which “feature their Twitter account names," the athletes refer to their training regime under the hashtag #makeitcount (London TELEGRAPH, 3/7).

The Mariners and Coors Light yesterday announced a new three-year sponsorship agreement that will see Coors Light become the team's official beer. As part of the deal, The Rail Bar in The 'Pen, presented by Root Sports, will be rebranded the Coors Light Rail Bar and Coors Light will be the presenting sponsor of the Root Sports Mariners pregame program before every Mariners home game. Coors Light also will mark the Mariners' 35th anniversary this summer with a series of pint glasses that will feature the likenesses of former Mariners Jay Buhner, Ken Griffey Jr. and Edgar Martinez. Other elements of the agreement include placement of the Coors Light brand on the Safeco Field main center field scoreboard as well as on rotating home plate signage and LED ribbon boards (Mariners). In Seattle, Nick Eaton noted Budweiser has served as the Mariners' official beer for 30 years and he wrote, "Here in the microbrew mecca, it's a little disappointing that the official beer of the Seattle Mariners is Coors Light." Eaton: "Don't worry. If you love Budweiser and other beers, you will still be able to buy those at the game" (, 3/6). 

A campaign by Snickers paying EPL club Manchester United D Rio Ferdinand and model Katie Price, among others, to "tweet about the chocolate bar has been cleared of breaking UK advertising rules" in the first ruling by U.K. ad watchdog the Advertising Standards Authority involving marketing on Twitter, according to Mark Sweney of the GUARDIAN. Snickers' parent company Mars "paid the celebrities to make five tweets." The first four tweets were "seemingly odd statements incongruous with the celebrities' usual behaviour and made no reference to Snickers." The final tweet, which was "accompanied by a photo of the celebrities holding a snickers bar, used the strapline 'you're not you when you're hungry' and the #spon suffix, short for 'sponsored' tweet." It also "mentioned @snickersUK, the official Snickers Twitter account." The ASA said that all five tweets "should be considered to be part of an 'orchestrated' advertising campaign and disagreed with Mars that the first four only became marketing communications after the final tweet was posted." However, the ASA said that the final tweet was "so clearly highlighted as an advertising campaign that consumers were not likely to be misled" (GUARDIAN, 3/7). An ASA spokesperson "described the decision as a 'landmark one' and said that it would probably open the door to more brands using celebrities as mouthpieces on Twitter." The Snickers U.K. Twitter account "only began a few weeks earlier and the series of celebrity endorsement tweets, all of which link to the new account, were all promoting the account and the brand to their millions of followers" (London TELEGRAPH, 3/7).

AD AGE's E.J. Schultz cited sources as saying that MillerCoors plans to bring back the classic tagline “Miller Time” for Miller Lite “as a means to lift the brand out of a prolonged slump.” The effort will “replace the ‘Man Up’ campaign by DraftFCB that positioned Lite as a great-tasting beer by mocking men who choose other brands.” DraftFCB, Chicago and Saatchi & Saatchi, N.Y., are the “lead agencies on the campaign.” Miller Lite shipments “dropped by 4.3% in 2011, and market share declined to 7.2% from 7.4%.” A-B’s Bud Light brand “is the overwhelming market-share leader, at 19.1%.” MillerCoors turned to "Man Up" in ‘10 after DraftFCB “won the account in 2009.” The spots feature “what some have called overly ‘sophomoric’ humor” (, 3/6).

SOMETIMES A FANTASY: YAHOO SPORTS’ Kevin Kaduk noted an ad promoting the release of Sony's "MLB 12: The Show" video game "shows what the streets of Chicago would look like if the Cubs won the World Series.” The ad feels "like a little bit of a kick in the Old Styles considering it's debuting at the outset of a season where the Cubs will be shooting for a fourth-place finish.” However, the fact that it is "extremely well done -- I loved seeing Sluggers and Wiener's Circle getting some play -- more than makes up for it” (, 3/6).

WHEN DOVE CRIES: AD AGE’s Jack Neff notes Unilever “will ask men to check their phones and watch a video in exchange for free stuff” in their latest ad for Dove Men+Care. The company is “using Viggle, a month-old service that rewards people with points when they check into TV shows or commercials, as a key part of its March Madness campaign” for the brand. Viggle “recognizes audio signals from TV programs and rewards points based on what the networks or sponsors are willing to fund.” The latest installments of Dove Men+Care "Journey to Comfort" campaign feature TNT analyst Shaquille O'Neal, Suns G Steve Nash and Michigan State men's basketball coach Tom Izzo “recounting formative moments in their lives” (, 3/6).

NEVER AT A LOSS OF INVENTORY: In Boston, Dan Shaughnessy noted during Red Sox Spring Training games at JetBlue Park, stolen bases "are sponsored and announced to the crowd: ‘That stolen base brought to you by …’” (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/5).