Nike has signed a “sponsorship agreement with Rio 2016 and the Brazilian national team, scoring a major corporate victory in the race for market share in fast-growing Brazil,” according to Tripp Mickle in Monday’s issue of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The deal gives Nike its “first official Olympic organizing committee sponsorship” since the ‘00 Sydney Games. Under terms of the four-year deal, Nike receives marketing and licensing rights to the Rio Games, and “will outfit all Brazilian national teams (except volleyball, which is sponsored by Olympikus)” for the '12 London and ‘16 Rio Games. Sources said that unlike “most Olympic apparel partners, Nike won’t outfit volunteers working at the Rio Games, and it is still being determined if it will provide opening and closing ceremony apparel for the Brazilian team.” Sources valued the deal in the $25-40M range, which is “significantly less than Rio organizers could have gotten for the deal.” Rio organizers “opted to take Nike’s tier-three sponsorship offer over a tier-one sponsorship proposal from the Brazilian sportswear brand Olympikus.” In doing so, “it is expected to become the first organizing committee to split team and volunteer outfitting into separate categories” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 4/2 issue).
Marketing and Sponsorship
U.S. District Court Judge Kevin Castel Wednesday ruled that Reebok “must temporarily stop manufacturing” apparel featuring the name and number of Jets QB Tim Tebow in response to a lawsuit filed earlier in the week by Nike, according to Chad Bray of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Castel ordered Reebok to temporarily stop making or selling "unauthorized" Tebow gear and to “recall any Tebow-related Jets apparel in its supply chain.” The judge also “barred Reebok from accepting additional orders for Tebow-related Jets items.” The order “allows Reebok to distribute and sell” Broncos-related merchandise featuring Tebow's name as long as it “was manufactured prior to March 1," when its license with the NFLPA expired. A hearing is “set for April 4 in Manhattan federal court on whether to continue the restraining order until the case is resolved.” Nike is “expected to reveal its line of redesigned NFL jerseys at a media event in New York on April 3.” In addition to being the exclusive supplier of NFL jerseys, Nike “has signed a separate deal with Mr. Tebow individually to market athletic and casual apparel under his name” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/30). In Jacksonville, Justin Barney wrote, “I don’t claim to be the authority on interpreting multi-million dollar merchandising contracts, but shouldn’t someone at Reebok have checked that out before the mass production of jerseys that Nike now says are illegal and wants destroyed?” (JACKSONVILLE.com, 3/29).
Anheuser-Busch, an MLB corporate sponsor since '80, is supporting its longtime baseball rights with a cause-related program that begins with the new season. Budweiser's "Walk Off A Hero" program will donate $5,000 for every walk-off win during this MLB season and donate a portion of sales from Memorial Day through July 4. The program is an effort to raise up to $2.5M for Folds of Honor (www.foldsofhonor.org), which provides scholarships to dependents of service members who were killed and disabled in action. Fans can visit Budweiser's Facebook page to see a daily walk-off tracker and learn more about the program. A-B is supporting the program with radio, print, point-of-sale and ads on MLB.com. Separately, A-B is celebrating the new season by producing baseball-themed cans of Budweiser for 23 teams, plus an MLB-logoed can.
The London Games are just four months away, and while swimmer Michael Phelps, sprinter Usain Bolt and other "well-heeled, well-sponsored athletes are training tirelessley," some lesser-known athletes are "not part of that" 1% of sport, according to Sean Gregory of TIME. Small-time Olympic athletes "have to be creative." U.S. runner Nick Symmonds is "renting out his skin as a billboard." He "promised on eBay to wear a temporary tattoo brandishing the name of the highest bidder as he competes for a spot on the U.S. team." Milwaukee-based marketing firm Hanson Dodge Creative gave Symmonds $11,000 to "sport the company's Twitter handle on his arm at meets." U.S. pole vaulter Mark Hollis "shot a Web advertisement for Corda-Roy's, a company that sells beanbag furniture." His payment was a beanbag that retails for $499. Race walker John Nunn "just started a cookie business." However, Gregory notes no athletes have "faced a more unusual path to the Olympics than the synchronized swimmers." The U.S. team trained at Aquamaids Synchronized Swimming Club in Santa Clara, Calif., and in exchange for resources "like coaching, pool time and a travel budget for meets, for every trimester they trained at Aquamaids, the swimmers had to log 100 hours of labor at the 20,000-sq.-ft. bingo hall" that generates more than 90% of the club's $2.4M yearly revenue. Synchronized swimmer Ali Williams said that her teammates "don't even get much support from U.S. Synchronized Swimming," the NGB that runs the sport. She recounted a January meeting when she explained to USA Synchro Exec Dir Terry Harper that a $750-a-month stipend "wasn't sufficient to cover basic expenses." Williams said he replied, "That is not my problem." A teammate "confirmed that he used those words," but Harper said that he "does not recall using them." Harper indicated that he did recall "explaining to the swimmers that direct funding for athletes is traditionally the responsibility of the USOC, not sport-governing bodies like USA Synchro" (TIME, 4/2 issue).
The growth of Christian-based apparel company Active Faith started by T’Wolves F Anthony Tolliver and former NBA D-League player Lanny Smith was examined by Jon Krawczynski of the AP. Ever since Knicks G Jeremy Lin’s picture was "plastered everywhere,” so “were the wristbands" he wears, which were created by Tolliver and Smith. The two began selling Active Faith wristbands emblazoned with “IJNIP” -- In Jesus’ Name I Play. Lin is a “big supporter” and wears the wristbands during games. Smith said, “It kind of blew up on us overnight and it turned from something that me and Anthony were working on growing step by step to something that turned global.” Krawczynski writes, “They have Linsanity to thank for that.” Tolliver said, “All these pictures across the world with him rocking our bands. Basically at that time, our website launched. It just was crazy after that.” The website -- MyActiveFaith.com -- "crashed three times before they were able to get a dedicated server to handle the traffic and they sold 10,000 wristbands in the first two weeks.” Smith: “Nike, Adidas, Reebok, Under Armour, they’ll never make a faith-based product. They’ll never really crossover and touch that. We felt that this was a niche and a market that we could create. That’s what we plan on doing, almost being the Nike of the Christian sports apparel.” Krawczynski notes Active Faith also has T-shirts and "workout tops, shorts, hoodies and polo shirts, all geared to athletes, workout freaks and weekend warriors.” The company sells “a women’s line -- Fearfully and Wonderfully Made -- and have high-profile athletes” like Lin, Bulls G Derrick Rose and T’Wolves F Derrick Williams sporting the bands. The line is “sold at Houston’s Lakewood Church, which has the largest congregation in the United States with more than 40,000 attendees every Sunday, and at nationwide retailer Family Christian Stores, in addition to the website” (AP, 3/30).