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Volume 24 No. 158

Marketing and Sponsorship

The NFL notified its teams Thursday that the league's ban on accepting casino ads had been lifted, at least through March 31, 2014. In a memo to the clubs, the league said the business ventures committee had voted unanimously to change the policy for the '12 and '13 seasons, which could allow each team to raise millions of dollars. "These policy modifications are designed to ensure that all permitted gambling advertising by NFL clubs is executed in accordance with industry best practices, is intended to target adult audiences, is consistent with the League’s continuing opposition to sports gambling, and minimizes any potential negative impact on the NFL brand," the memo said. There are significant restrictions, most notably the specific casino in question cannot have a sports book. And the casino as part of an ad deal must contribute 5% of the value to the NFL’s anti-gambling program for its employees. Stadium signs will only be allowed in the upper bowls and in concourses, meaning most ads will escape the TV cameras. The ads, which the league will also allow on radio broadcasts and in print but nowhere else, cannot depict anyone actually gambling. Nor can the ads use players and coaches. The ads cannot contain club marks, and the medium in which the ads run, must have an audience reasonably anticipated to be at least 70% composed of individuals 21 years of age or older. The ads also must include responsible gambling messages and cannot induce consumers with messages that they could win big (Daniel Kaplan, SportsBusiness Journal). In N.Y., Paul Tharp notes both the Jets and Giants owners "voiced interest in accepting casino advertising at MetLife Stadium." Industry reports said that a "typical team could reap up" to $6M a year from casino ads. Jets Owner Woody Johnson said, "This is another example of the NFL prudently opening up new business opportunities (and we) will explore it thoughtfully" (N.Y. POST, 4/13).

Flyers RW Claude Giroux had the best-selling jersey among all NHLers this season at, topping Rangers RW Ryan Callahan. Penguins C Sidney Crosby, who led all jersey sales during the '10-11 season, slipped to the No. 3 slot. The Bruins, who began their defense of the Stanley Cup with a 1-0 OT win over the Capitals Thursday, are led by G Tim Thomas at No. 7 (NHL).

1 Flyers RW Claude Giroux 11 Flyers RW Daniel Briere
2 Rangers RW Ryan Callahan 12 Bruins C Tyler Seguin
3 Penguins C Sidney Crosby 13 Bruins D Zdeno Chara
4 Capitals LW Alex Ovechkin 14 Bruins LW Milan Lucic
5 Rangers G Henrik Lundqvist 15 Rangers C Brad Richards
6 Blackhawks C Jonathan Toews 16 Lightning C Steven Stamkos
7 Bruins G Tim Thomas 17 Penguins C Evgeni Malkin
8 Blackhawks C Patrick Kane 18 Capitals C Nicklas Backstrom
9 Red Wings C Pavel Datsyuk 19 Flyers LW James van Riemsdyk
10 Flyers RW Jaromir Jagr 20 Sharks C Joe Thornton

Ron Holmes, the father of top high school basketball recruit Shabazz Muhammad, said he does not understand the criticism from some about adidas' possible role in Muhammad committing to play next season at UCLA, according to Bolch & Holmes of the L.A. TIMES. Ron Holmes said, “I don't understand when they say Adidas had a presence here. Adidas didn't tell us where to go to school. … If they're saying that Adidas is giving me money, that is a downright lie." Muhammad's AAU team, Dream Vision, was sponsored by adidas, but Holmes pointed out that Muhammad “played for Bishop Gorman High, a Nike-sponsored school.” He added that the amount adidas gave Dream Vision “covered only a portion of the team's travel needs.” Dream Vision coach Clayton Williams said that although the team is sponsored by adidas, “most of the team's players end up at colleges affiliated with other shoe companies.” Williams: "Ninety percent of our kids wear Nikes in the winter (with their high school teams). But no one wants to speak to that." Holmes added that Muhammad's "future prospects played no role” when Asia Muhammad, Shabazz' sister, signed with adidas when she became a pro tennis player. Holmes said, "She was a standout junior tennis player and she got a contract off those merits.” Bolch & Holmes note Asia is currently ranked No. 386 in the ATP world rankings. Ron Holmes said that she is “negotiating a new contract commensurate with her ranking, one that could be 85% less than her original deal.” Holmes said that adidas reps “haven't broached the topic of a possible contract with Muhammad once he enters the NBA” (L.A. TIMES, 4/13). In Seattle, Percy Allen noted when Muhammad "made his decision he wore a Nike sweat shirt" (, 4/12).

Budweiser has signed a multi-platform deal with ESPN U.K. which will “expand their partnership to include two new ad-funded programmes” around the FA Cup, according to Maisie McCabe of MEDIA WEEK. A special segment called, “The Bench brought to you by Budweiser,” will attempt to give viewers a "behind-the-scenes experience on match days and will be broadcast as part of ESPN's live coverage of the final two stages of the FA Cup competition.” It will air prior to both the Liverpool-Everton semifinal match Saturday and ESPN's coverage of May 5 final. A Budweiser-funded documentary, “Kings for a Day -- The Giant Killers of Football,” will also air on May 5 and “will cover the role of underdogs in the competition, with vintage footage and interviews with former players and commentators.” The two “new strands of Budweiser and ESPN's partnership build on 'Every Match Counts,’ the series of short films that have documented fans' personal tales about the competition throughout the season” (, 4/13).

adidas Chair & CEO Herbert Hainer last week in German-language newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said that the company “plans to slash the number of products it produces by as much as one quarter.” He said that adidas “currently sells 46,897 different lines of products, which is far too many to manufacture and market efficiently.” Hainer added that the top 20% of the company's products “account for 80 percent of its sales.” adidas North America President Patrik Nilsson on Thursday said that the product-line reduction “will bring greater focus to the company's overall mission -- and profitability” (Portland OREGONIAN, 4/13).

VIRTUAL REALITY: In St. Louis, Dan Caesar reports FS Midwest during Game One of the Sharks-Blues Western Conference quarterfinals game Thursday unveiled "virtual ads," computer-generated ads that "weren't visible to fans in the stands but for TV viewers appeared to be signs on the glass behind the nets.” These ads, which “are to return for all” FS Midwest Blues home playoff telecasts, were “somewhat intrusive but weren't nearly as aggravating as the advertising banners FSM unfurls on the screen during game action to distract viewers” (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 4/13).

ROUNDUP: The Ducks on Thursday announced that the team and Honda Center have signed a partnership agreement with Hormel Foods, making it the exclusive chili provider for the arena and the team (Ducks)….In Charlotte, Ron Green Jr. notes one of the “noticeable differences” at the Heritage Classic this year is “new sponsor RBC.” The TV towers, viewing chalets and other structures “are wrapped in blue rather than the traditional green, a nod to the new sponsor’s primary color” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/13).