The MLS Galaxy have signed a record 10-year, $44M renewal with Herbalife that continues to make the company the team’s jersey sponsor. In addition, L.A.-based Herbalife will also continue to be the presenting sponsor of the defending MLS Cup. Galaxy officials said that the new deal is the longest and most lucrative jersey deal in the league. “It is twice as long as any other deal in MLS and is a real testament to Herbalife and their faith in MLS soccer,” said AEG Senior VP/Corporate Partnerships Bill Pedigo, whose company owns the Galaxy. Herbalife Senior Dir of Corporate Alliances Exec Brian McKinley said the company agreed to the unprecedented decade-long deal in order to build more stability in the partnership. Herbalife became a sponsor of the Galaxy in ‘05 and signed on in ‘07 to become the team’s jersey and presenting sponsor. “It is hard to maintain a partnership philosophy when every one-and-a-half to three years you are negotiating a renewal,” McKinley said. “Our relationship goes far beyond just the jersey. It is about the true integration of our brand and we wanted a stable partnership.” The deal also includes $2.5M charitable effort between the Galaxy Foundation and the Herbalife Family Foundation to benefit underserved children. The Earthquakes, Rapids, FC Dallas and Sporting KC remain the only MLS clubs without a shirt sponsor.
Charlotte-based QSR Bojangles has signed a five-year deal to serve as the title sponsor of the annual NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Darlington Raceway. The Bojangles Southern 500 will be held on May 12. The deal also allows Bojangles' to serve its products at five ISC-owned tracks (Bojangles). In South Carolina, Bob Spear reports ISC officials "made first contact with Bojangles' to explore sponsorship opportunities, and the availability of Darlington appealed to the restaurant chain's officials." Darlington Raceway President Chris Browning said, "We went into the negotiations with the idea of a three-year deal, and the Bojangles' people suggested five years. ... The length of this sponsorship is extremely important." Spear notes Showtime and Go Daddy have served as "stopgap measures" after Dodge pulled its title sponsorship prior to the '09 race (Columbia STATE, 3/16).
The excitement around Knicks G Jeremy Lin has “quieted down in all sorts of ways” off the court, according to Zach Schonbrun of the N.Y. TIMES. Cosby Sporting Goods’ location near MSG has seen sales of Lin T-shirts go “from an average of 70 per day to only a handful as of last Friday.” Cosby’s had been stocked with six variations of Lin T-shirts, but many have been “replaced by Rangers gear and early baseball merchandise.” Store Manager Jim Root said, “As long as they still make T-shirts, we’ll continue to bring them in. They’re just now going to be coming in the same way other players' were.” Schonbrun notes Modell’s Sporting Goods’ Times Square location still has a “front corner of the store … almost solely dedicated to Lin shirts and jerseys.” However, a store manager said that while demand “remains solid ... not as many customers are showing up as before.” The Duane Reade’s locations in Midtown Manhattan were selling Lin pennants, flags and bumper stickers this week “with yellow labels marking them down half price.” Also, Lin trading cards have now “flooded the market at more reasonable prices.” NBA Dir of Marketing Communications Amanda Thorn said that Lin’s No. 17 jersey “remains the top seller” both at the NBA Store in N.Y. and at NBAStore.com. Thorn added that since early February, NBAStore.com “has shipped Lin merchandise to 24 countries outside the United States.” Meanwhile, Nike is still “reportedly in the process of producing a Lin-themed shoe” (N.Y. TIMES, 3/16).
CLASS-ACTION SUIT AGAINST TWC: The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Eriq Gardner noted in an "amended class action, a group of plaintiffs demand” that Time Warner Cable “reimburse them" for more than $5M in service fees and charges for withholding programming during the carriage dispute with MSG. The named plaintiff is Harold Hoffman, “who says he was induced on the phone” by a TWC rep to sign up in ‘08 for service “with the promise he would receive programming on the MSG and MSG+ networks.” He signed up for TWC, “and when the games were taken off the air for 49 days beginning at the beginning of this year, he couldn't deduct from his billing statement the component of charges” for MSG and MSG+. The suit was filed on behalf of “all similarly situated individuals for redress” (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 3/15).
Visa Europe is launching its “flagship pre-Olympics ad campaign” featuring Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, and the campaign “advances the company’s ‘Life flows better with Visa’ creative theme to focus on the speed of its latest contactless and mobile payment products," according to Alex Brownshell of MARKETING magazine. The campaign, via Saatchi & Saatchi, includes an ad appearing in Europe under the tagline, “Flow faster with Visa.” In the spot, Bolt “races an unknown rival from the airport to London’s Olympic Stadium in a playful reinterpretation of the brand’s breakthrough ‘Running man’ campaign from 2008.” Visa Exec VP/Marketing & Product Solutions Mariano Dima said, “Speed is one of the key benefits of our new products, so we thought about refining what we mean by ‘better.’ In the context of the Olympics, we thought, who is the fastest man on earth? That is where Usain Bolt comes in.” Brownshell noted Visa has “set itself a lofty objective of using the event to change the perception of its brand from a traditional payments facilitator to a technology company.” The brand is “striking up partnerships and alliances with mobile handset manufacturers including Samsung and networks such as Vodafone in a race to become the de facto provider of new payment technology.” Dima: “People are moving away from just card payments, so we must start building up the understanding that, although Visa has been here for 50 years, we are trying to innovate. For us, this is not so much a campaign, as a showcase of our innovation.” When the Olympics begin July 27, there will be “approximately 100,000 terminals in the UK accepting contractless payments, 3500 of them in the Olympic Park.” Through Visa’s partnership with Coca-Cola, the technology “will be included in its soft-drinks vending machines.” Dima: “We have seen awareness (of Visa as an Olympic sponsor) increase dramatically in the UK over the past three to four years. We track it monthly, and in most markets we are in the top three brands” (MARKETINGMAGAZINE.com, 3/14).
Nike and its affiliated brands sponsor 50 of the 64 teams in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament, down one from 51 in last year's tourney, according to THE DAILY's annual breakdown of the shoe and apparel brands worn in the tourney. Twelve teams wear adidas shoes, the same number as last year. Under Armour has lost two teams in the tourney, going from four teams in '11 to only two this year. Russell Athletic supplies the jerseys for four schools, the same number from last year, while Jordan Brand jerseys are worn by one team. Schools in the chart below are listed by region in their seed order. The first round of the NCAA tournament begins Saturday (THE DAILY).
In Sydney, Samantha Lane noted the Australian Olympic Committee is “intent on protecting swimmers from wearing ‘substandard’ Speedo suits at the London Olympics,” and is giving athletes “unprecedented rights to ditch the team sponsor and wear something else.” The AOC Wednesday said that “even Speedo's Australian ambassadors ... should not feel obliged to wear their sponsors' problematic new product if they were concerned it could hinder them in London.” Thirty-two swimmers “applied for permission to wear alternative brands by the AOC's original January 27 deadline.” But the circumstances of Speedo's “largely unpopular new suits" mean Australian Olympians will have until April 16 "to apply to wear alternatives in London” (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 3/15).
SUPPORTING THE ALMA MATER:MARKETWATCH’s Sam Mamudi cited an IBISWorld study that found that “one-fourth of all goods sold through licensed sports apparel stores in 2012 will be college-branded.” The NFL, the “highest-earning sports league in the world, is expected to rank second this year, with a 22.6% share,” and MLB third with 22.9% of sales. MLB-licensed goods until recently had been the “biggest sellers at licensed sports apparel stores.” But a combination of “more television exposure and an increasingly professional approach to merchandising has seen college products rise from third in 2009, behind MLB and NFL, to number one in 2010 and last year -- and likely in the years ahead.” IBISWorld analyst Brian Bueno said that the “top-selling colleges last year" were Texas, Alabama and Florida (MARKETWATCH.com, 3/15).
CHEERS TO THIS:MillerCoors Marketing Communications Manager Scott Bussen said that the company is “running advertisements for three of its top brands -- Coors Light, Miller Lite, and Miller64 -- during the run of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.” In Milwaukee, Rich Rovito noted MillerCoors also is airing a Miller Lite “responsibility” spot, which “emphasizes the importance of having a designated driver.” Bussen said that the beer brewer also “has a partnership with DirecTV that gives it ‘an increased presence’ during tournament broadcasts” (BIZJOURNALS.com, 3/15).
CUP COMETH OVER: YAHOO SPORTS’ Greg Wyshynski reviewed the NHL’s new “Because It’s The Cup” campaign and wrote the “Where It’s Been” ad is a “gorgeously shot spot that chronicles some of the Stanley Cup's strangest journeys, including the bottom of a swimming pool.” It does a “really nice job of conveying that quirky vibe in a short running time.” The “Two Halftimes” spot “might just be the kind of thing that convinces the non-believers to check out the Playoffs” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 3/15).