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Volume 24 No. 159

Marketing and Sponsorship

Sprint tapped NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson to star in the latest of a series of commercials tied to its “Avoid a Data Dilemma” campaign. The spot, which will debut Saturday night during Fox’s broadcast of the Capital City 400 presented by Virginia is for Lovers race at Richmond Int'l Raceway, shows Johnson talking about a situation where a race fan misses a winning moment because of his limited data plan. He explains how he drove to victory by making a courageous pass of another driver late in a race. Johnson says, “I drove it in deep and took the race, but you missed it,” as a highlight of him driving appears showing him taking the lead in a race. Then he mentions that the fan missed his victory because “you got throttled by your data plan and it slowed you down.” Johnson jokes that the reason the fan missed the race was because he had hit his data limit streaming techno music. As music plays, he quips, “Man, you’ve got some questionable taste in music.” Other Sprint ads for its unlimited data plans feature Thunder F Kevin Durant. Octagon, which manages Sprint’s NASCAR’s business, also represents Johnson.

Samsung has 30 days to respond to the lawsuit filed by 18 Olympians, which alleges that the company did not have permission to use their names and images in the company's Olympic marketing program, the “Genome Project.” The attorney representing the 18 athletes, Rich Foster, yesterday issued a statement in response to Samsung’s claim yesterday that it “followed USOC procedures in communicating with athletes” and that “athletes have had the opportunity to voice their opinions on the program and to control their participation.” In his statement, Foster said, “These ‘procedures’ consisted of sending an email to some of the Plaintiffs, in which they were told of the Genome Project and advised that they would be a part of the project unless they ‘opted out.’ This was the extent of 'athlete participation.' The law is clear that silence is not an acceptance of such an offer and that neither Samsung nor the Olympic Committee can create a contractual relationship between any athlete and Samsung via an email to which there was no response. In addition, several of the plaintiffs returned the ‘opt out letter,’ indicating that they did not want to be part of the project, but were never-the-less included in it. Others deleted the email without reading it. These procedures were sorely lacking in legal foundation and failed to meet minimum due diligence standards. Other statements have been made that there was no intent to ‘commercialize’ the athletes. This is simply false. Their names and images were placed on a Facebook application bearing Samsung’s trademarked name. The application dangled discounts on Samsung’s electronics products and offered products from other companies. The project clearly sought to induce sales of Samsung products and sought to build the athletic community around its brand."

German Bundesliga club Bayern Munich’s victory over La Liga club Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League semifinal "will be a big boost for the German soccer club’s sponsors," according to Mike Ozanian of FORBES. Because the final will be played at Allianz Arena in Munich, Bayern Munich will be the first club since '84 "to play in a Champions League final that it is hosting, giving its partners an unusual amount of worldwide exposure." Sponsors "already love Bayern, which is why the club took in" $258M in commercial revenue last season, generated from $119M of sponsorship and advertising, $64M of merchandising and $75M "from other commercial activities at and away from Allianz Arena." adidas, which has a "minority stake in the soccer club as well as a" $32M a year kit deal with Bayern, will "perhaps be the biggest winner." Deutsche Telekom, whose shirt deal with Bayern in '09 was "questioned by some because it paid a record amount to a club with a relatively small fan base outside of Germany, will get the last laugh." Another "benefactor should be Audi, whose initial deal with Bayern gave the car market" a 9.5% stake in the club, with an extension last year giving the carmaker a stake in "Bayern’s basketball team and arena." Samsung and Lufthansa should also "score with the Champions League final" (, 4/26).