The legal battle between the NHL, Labatt and Molson "is over, but the marketing war is alive and well," according to Josh Rubin of the TORONTO STAR. With the Stanley Cup Playoffs underway, the NHL "took a public shot at a promotional campaign by Labatt, which offers fans 'Hockey Tickets for Life.'" In a statement on NHL.com, the league said, "We want our fans to know that the NHL has no affiliation with that promotion, and we can offer no assurances to our fans that the desired tickets will be available to the winner." MolsonCoors Canada Chief Public Affairs Officer Ferg Devins said that "even if Labatt wanted to buy tickets on the open market, it would be all but impossible." Labatt in response issued a written statement, "pointing out they didn't use the NHL or any of its team names in the campaign." Labatt VP/Corporate Affairs Charlie Angelakos: "Let me be clear. We’ll deliver on our Playoff Payoff Tickets for Life commitment to fans. Budweiser Playoff Payoff is definitely still on." Molson last year "won a lengthy legal battle to become the NHL's official beer sponsor" (TORONTO STAR, 4/27).
Marketing and Sponsorship
EPL club Chelsea FC has signed a partnership with F1 team Sauber which will begin at the May 11-13 Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona. The Chelsea FC crest will be displayed on the cars of Sauber drivers Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez (Chelsea FC). In London, Kevin Eason notes the value of the deal is unknown, but the "prime spot chosen for Chelsea on the airbox above the driver's head is one of the most valuable advertising sites on the car," worth up to US$4.87M per season for some teams. However, the cash deal "appears to have been watered down with the exchanges on the sale of merchandise and sports science know-how, as well as cross-advertising." Sauber "will also get a presence at Chelsea." Eason writes Sauber has been "one of Formula One's least glamorous teams," but that "has changed over the past two seasons." Sauber has "collected a raft of sponsors and cashed in on backing from" Mexican telecommunications billionaire Carlos Slim. Sauber CEO Monisha Kaltenborn said, "A partnership like this between Formula One and football has never existed before in this form, yet there are numerous commonalities and possible synergies." Eason notes Chelsea FC will "show the Sauber logo at home matches on advertising boards at the stadium and on interview walls" (LONDON TIMES, 4/30). REUTERS' Alan Baldwin notes Sauber "had the mysterious inscriptions 'out of the Blue' and 'True Blue' on the engine covers of their cars in the last two races in China and Bahrain without saying what the words signified" (REUTERS, 4/30).
Dolphins Owner Stephen Ross, former Jets Exec VP/Business Operations Matt Higgins, former NFL VP/Partnerships, Marketing & Sales CEO Peter Murray and Genesco Sports Enterprises co-Founder & CEO John Tatum are "combining to form Insignia Sports & Entertainment," according to Terry Lefton in this week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. Each of the four "will have equity in the new venture." Former HBO Sports President Ross Greenburg is "also involved in the operation, which has an emphasis on content creation and distribution, but Greenburg's role was unclear." Murray will serve as CEO and "hopes to hire as many as a dozen people by year's end." Agency capabilities include "brand consulting, property and athlete representation, and technology ventures." Since leaving the Jets in January, Higgins has been working for Ross' Related Cos., launching RSE Ventures, which "plans to develop sports-related companies." Higgins described Insignia as a "supporting company" for RSE Ventures, and it will "serve the same function for Tatum's Genesco agency, with both executive partners in the new firm." Technology and content creation "are two of the nascent agency's larger missions." Some early examples are "relaunching FanVision into a leading technology that will be a de facto standard across all venues." Another project is "a plan by Ross to "turn South Florida in general -- and the Dolphins’ Sun Life Stadium in particular -- into the home for Central and South American soccer in the United States, something that would make a valuable Hispanic marketing platform." Ross said that he also soon will "announce plans for three or four matches in Miami from top-name international teams" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 4/30 issue).
In N.Y., Bernie Augustine writes a designer for Nike “made an ill-timed quip on Twitter Saturday, speculating" that Bulls G Derrick Rose’s torn ACL "might have had something to do" with his shoe choice. Nike basketball shoe designer Jason Petrie tweeted Saturday night, “You got one guy only getting stronger and one guy breaking down before our very eyes. You chose poorly Pooh #shouldasignedwithNIKE #GWS.” Augustine notes Petrie “is the designer" of Heat F LeBron James’ signature Nike shoe. Petrie took to Twitter “again Sunday morning to apologize for his remarks,” and said, “Wow! Twitterverse I do apologize. It was really just tongue n cheek! Never meant any harm or disrespect.” Nike in a statement released Sunday called Petrie’s comments “inappropriate” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 4/30).
EXPENSIVE COMPETITION: Reebok President Uli Becker acknowledged that Nike "made continuing his company's deal with the NFL too expensive.” Becker “pointed to other professional and college sports still connected with Reebok or associated Adidas names.” However, he said that his company “recognized several years ago that a big part of its future would be in the personal fitness niche, where it began in the early 1980s, as more and more adults worldwide seek to improve their health.” Becker: “We want to create a reason why Reebok will be there and it has a lot to do with the fitness lifestyle.” He acknowledged that company finances and operations “were rough following Adidas’ 2005 acquisition of Reebok.” Becker: “Obviously in a recession the weakest are affected the most. But we’ve been growing ever since. We’ve replaced a lot of our business with really growing business, and the last two years we’ve had really good growth” (BOSTON HERALD, 4/29).
FUTURISTIC FOOTBALL: AD WEEK’s Tim Nudd wrote the Nike Football commercial that broke Thursday night during the NFL Draft was “rugged, stylized, eye-catching.” The spot from Portland-based Wieden & Kennedy was directed by Mark Romanek and “visually, it’s expert stuff -- clean and futuristic, set in a space-agey stadium tunnel.” But despite “the fancy visuals, it’s the percussive copy that pushes the spot forward.” The voiceover in the commercial says, “This game is not fast. This game is faster” (ADWEEK.com, 4/27).
IN THE WORKS: Spanish-language sports site Marca.com is reporting La Liga club Real Madrid is “on the verge of signing a new sponsorship deal with Adidas until 2020.” The figure involved in the deal “has not yet been announced by either side, but the new deal will certainly represent an improvement" on the US$46.3M received by the club for the '11-12 season (GOAL.com, 4/28).
CLARIFICATION: In Wednesday’s issue, THE DAILY mischaracterized details of Procter & Gamble’s recent deal for its Tide brand and the NFL. P&G handled all aspects of that deal with the NFL internally. THE DAILY regrets the error (THE DAILY).