The NHL's satellite radio partner SiriusXM secured title sponsorship of the Jan. 1 Hockeytown Winter Festival at Detroit's Comerica Park for two weeks in the run-up to the NHL Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium between the Red Wings and Maple Leafs. The deal reflects the growth of the Winter Classic, which started as just one game, but has turned into an event. “This is the first time we’ve done a title sponsorship around the Winter Classic beyond Bridgestone and the main event,” said NHL VP/Integrated Sales & Marketing David Lehanski. “But look how far the event has come; we had a sold-out alumni game the day before the Rangers-Flyers Winter Classic in Philadelphia last year. The model has now changed drastically, with two weeks of events planned in Detroit before we even get to the Big House. It made sense for SiriusXM to attach its brand to the festival.” The SiriusXM Hockeytown Winter Festival will include interactive games, autograph signings, public skates, exhibits and musical performances. The Comerica Park rink will host the Great Lakes Invitational, featuring four local college teams, and an AHL game between the Grand Rapids Griffins and the Toronto Marlies, minor league affiliates of the Red Wings and Maple Leafs. The deal calls for a co-branded NHL/SiriusXM logo to be utilized in all promotional, marketing and event materials including center ice on the Comerica Park rink; in-stadium assets such as camera visible dasherboards, branded jumbotron features, PA announcements and LED logo inclusion; on-site activation, including a broadcast position on field at Comerica and dedicated space at the festival; and an integrated media package running on NHL Network and NBC Sports. SiriusXM will broadcast live on the NHL Home Ice channel from an on-field location throughout. Molson Canadian, Reebok, Advil, Comerica and Compuware have signed on as partners of the festival.
Marketing and Sponsorship
Nike sent several MLBers, including Giants LF Melky Cabrera, brightly-colored cleats to wear in Tuesday's All-Star Game, and since they could "wear something different, many players took the opportunity," according to C. Trent Rosecrans of CBSSPORTS.com. Cabrera, who was named MVP of the game, had on bright orange cleats, and said, "I brought my own spikes from San Francisco, but I wore them because I think they're cute." Giants 3B Pablo Sandoval wore a "slightly more muted hue of orange shoes made by Under Armour." He said that he "didn't have any input on the shoes, he didn't request them, he didn't know they were coming, they just showed up and he put them on." Sandoval did "lament that he wouldn't be able to wear them again." Rosencrans noted Giants P Brian Wilson two years ago "tried to wear his orange cleats in a regular-season game and was told to change." Other players also "got their own colors." Nationals LF Bryce Harper "had a pair of red high-tops with gold accents," while Pirates P Joel Hanrahan's "black shoes had gold toes and other highlights" and Orioles CF Adam Jones wore "white shoes with orange trim" (CBSSPORTS.com, 7/11). Braves 3B Chipper Jones said of Cabrera's cleats, "I would not be caught dead in those shoes to be honest. Aw, I'm just kidding. You know what? They get paid a lot of money to wear those shoes. It's a little flashy and a little loud, but we had a little fun with it here in the clubhouse" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 7/11). After Cabrera grounded out in the second inning of Tuesday's game, Fox' Joe Buck said, “Cabrera back to the dugout, and he will plug his shoes into a charger so they light-up brighter the next time he goes out there.” Fox’ Tim McCarver said, “The one guy you would not get in to those shoes is (White Sox DH) Adam Dunn. He told us yesterday that there is no chance I’m wearing those orange shoes.” Buck said Dunn noted the shoes “would be great for Pele, but not me” ("MLB All-Star Game," Fox, 7/10).
THE BRYCE IS RIGHT: In DC, Dan Steinberg noted Harper has been wearing Under Amour’s "new Highlight Spine cleats for a couple weeks," but he got a "special model for the All-Star game." It is a "higher-topped shoe with ankle support, which the company brags is both lightweight and durable" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 7/10). Harper said of the cleats, "Those are great, aren't they? They're awesome for the camera. ... They're pretty impressive. They've got that Vegas feel to them" (CSNWASHINGTON.com, 7/10). McCarver during the All-Star Game said, "How about the shoes on Bryce Harper?” Buck said, “They’re golden.” McCarver replied, “Oh, those golden slippers. That’s styling right there” (“MLB All-Star Game,” Fox, 7/10). ESPN's Rob Parker said Harper's cleats were a "little too flashy for a first-time, 19-year-old All-Star" ("Numbers Never Lie," ESPN2, 7/11).
TAKING THEM TO THE WOODSHED: In Indianapolis, Mark Ambrogi noted Tigers 1B Prince Fielder used bats from Indiana-based Hoosier Bat Co. in winning the State Farm Home Run Derby Monday night. Company Owner Dave Cook said that the "attention received from Fielder winning the title should give his company a boost" similar to that following Fielder's win in '09. However, Cook "doesn't plan [on] an advertising campaign." He said, "We usually just do it by word of mouth." He added that usually 30 to 35 MLBers "use his company's bats." Cook said that Harper "used the bats in the minor leagues" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 7/11).
Under Armour and EPL club Tottenham Hotspur today unveiled the club’s new home and away kits for the '12-13 season. UA’s five-year agreement to be the “technical partner” of Tottenham is the apparel brand’s first with an EPL team and its largest team sponsorship to date. UA Senior VP/Global Sports Marketing Matt Mirchin said, “Soccer is the most-viewed sport in the world, so this is a vital next step in growing our brand. Tottenham Hotspur is London’s blue collar team and they have a rich tradition. We thought this partnership was a perfect fit for us.” The kits, which will be available on the team’s website beginning at midnight London time, integrate many of UA’s apparel innovations. The shirts are made of the company’s HeatGear material, which is meant to keep the players lighter and drier. Tottenham Chair Daniel Levy said, "Not only are they one of the most exciting brands in world sport, but Under Armour also has a reputation for performance and technical excellence. This is demonstrated by the fantastic kit they have designed." UA is also launching a retail collection for Tottenham, featuring graphic T-shirts, training tees, shorts, track jackets and accessories. Mirchin: "It is a defining moment for our brand."
Vanderbilt Univ. yesterday “took another step in rebranding its football program” in unveiling new Nike uniforms for the ‘12 season, according to Nick Cole of the Nashville TENNESSEAN. The first noticeable change “is the new white helmet, which was an instant favorite of fans and players.” This marks the “first time that the Commodores have worn a white helmet since the 1986 season.” Another significant change includes “a new look to the gold jersey, with the addition of black shoulder coverings and numerals.” Nike also added “Vanderbilt” on the jersey’s front “for the first time since 1994.” With black, white and gold versions of the jerseys, helmets and pants, the Commodores “will have 27 uniform combinations.” Vanderbilt coach James Franklin said, “It is about staying current. For the recruits and the community, we want to show the continued change we are making here” (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 7/12).
WHAT ABOUT US? In K.C., Terez Paylor reported EA Sports' "NCAA Football 13" video game “raised the ire" of some Univ. of Missouri fans when it was released Tuesday “without MU's new uniforms.” However, the company “has not left the Tigers out in the cold." EA Sports Communications Specialist Brad Hilderbrand said that the game's producers “plan to release a free patch in mid-August with updates to several uniforms, including Missouri's” (KANSASCITY.com, 7/11).
Egraphs, a new Seattle-based outfit seeking to develop a niche in digital autographs, formally launches today with the company incubated in part by the Rays and team Owner Stu Sternberg. The Egraphs product involves a player, following a fan order online, signing his autograph and a personalized greeting on an iPad with a special stylus and recording a voice message to go along with that digital autograph. Both the autograph and voice message are authenticated using a variety of high-end biometric processes developed by Egraphs. The Egraphs product seeks to restore a level of personalization and genuine fan connection now often lost and commodotized with physical autographs, while at the same time allowing many options to print out, e-mail, view on mobile devices or share on social media. The company was developed following a series of conversations between Rays Senior VP/Business Operations Brian Auld and his brother, David, who has a background in technology and worked for several years at Microsoft. "We're trying to bring back a certain amount of magic that we think has been missing from autographs," said David Auld, who now is the CEO of Egraphs. The company has aligned with more than two dozen players and coaches at launch, including Red Sox DH David Ortiz, Rays P David Price, Yankees P CC Sabathia and former MLBer Kerry Wood. The introductory price for Egraphs will be $50, with prices to alter following a short launch period, but staying generally below those seen for physical autographs. Resale value is all but eliminated due to the highly personalized nature of the product. Following an initial baseball-focused launch, Egraphs intends to move quickly into football, other sports, and general entertainment (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).
$IGN OF THE TIMES: In Charlotte, Scott Fowler notes NFL Panthers QB Cam Newton's appearance at an autograph-signing session this weekend in Charlotte will cost fans between $125-175. IMG’s Carlos Fleming, Newton’s marketing agent, said that Newton “agreed to sign a memorabilia deal in part to deal with the fake and unauthorized merchandise that is rampant in the sports collectibles industry.” Fowler writes Newton has “the right to charge three figures for his autograph in his backyard, just as I have the right to disagree with him doing so.” Newton "shouldn’t charge for autographs in his current hometown" because that is "part of just being part of the community” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 7/12).
Only a few of the 530 U.S. athletes competing at the London Olympics "will cash in on their success immediately after the Games,” as sports marketing experts claim that most sponsorship deals “are signed about a year in advance,” according to Michael Florek of USA TODAY. America's attention on the Olympics “evaporates quickly” after the Games conclude, and sponsors “prefer to have athletes signed that they can use in advertising campaigns in the months leading up to the Games.” Only the “biggest stars will find themselves with new endorsement opportunities in August.” Provided an athlete wins his or her event, a post-Olympic sponsorship “likely would draw six figures.” Baker Street Advertising Exec VP & Creative Dir Bob Dorfman said that a Gold Medal is “almost a prerequisite for post-Olympic marketing success, but it's not the only thing.” A “winning personality, a tale of overcoming obstacles and the potential to compete in several Games can also boost an athlete,” as some companies will “look to sign a budding star to a long-term deal.” Florek notes gymnast Gabby Douglas, swimmer Ryan Lochte and sprinter Allyson Felix have the potential to become marketing stars, as does swimmer Missy Franklin. However, Franklin has stated that she “wants to swim in college” and she has “passed up endorsement deals because she doesn't want to give up her NCAA eligibility.” Premier Management Group President & CEO Evan Morgenstein said of Franklin's marketing potential, "I don't think you could put a dollar amount on it. Over the next four years, she could be the highest paid Olympic athlete in the United States" (USA TODAY, 7/12).
IOC Marketing Commission Chair Gerhard Heiberg said that Chinese firms "are in talks to join the Olympic sponsor programme" as the IOC “seeks to extend its reach in Asia, but also keep a limit on the number of prime sponsors.” REUTERS’ Karolus Grohmann noted the IOC “relies heavily” on the 11 sponsors in the TOP program who contribute an estimated $100M each "for every two-games package of one winter and one summer games.” Heiberg said, “We have kept a space open hoping a Chinese company will join.” Heiberg said that he "was also talking to South Korean and Japanese companies” and that an addition of a Chinese firm “would be by 2016 at the latest.” Taiwan-based computer company Acer is the “only leading sponsor that has not so far renewed its sponsorship” (REUTERS, 7/11).NO KIDDING AROUND: The AP’s Mae Anderson notes Procter & Gamble yesterday “unveiled an ad that shows child athletes arriving in London and getting ready to compete.” In the “Kids” commercial, a “proud mom watches her son on the diving board.” An announcer then says, “To their moms, they’ll always be kids.” The spot ends with the company tagline: “P&G, proud sponsor of moms.” P&G Global Brand Building Officer Marc Pritchard said, “It’s the largest multibrand program we’ve ever done.” P&G “expects the campaign to drive" $500M in sales. The company is “focusing on its most profitable markets, which include the U.S., Mexico, Germany and Brazil.” Pritchard: “We designed the program to be global, to ensure that we would be successful in top markets” (AP, 7/12).
BUILDING A LEGACY: BRAND REPUBLIC’s Sarah Shearman noted General Electric is “launching a digital campaign to raise awareness of its London 2012 Olympics sponsorship and its involvement in building the infrastructure and legacy for the games.” GE has “launched an interactive map, created by Beyond and built on Microsoft's Bing platform, which aims to tell the story of its role in powering the games.” The campaign also “includes games in which users win prizes by answering a series of questions about the Olympics” (BRANDREPUBLIC.com, 7/11).
WOULD YOU LIKE FRIES WITH THAT? In London, Ashling O’Connor writes when IOC TOP sponsor McDonald’s "enforced its exclusive rights under its fast food contract with organisers, workers and volunteers in the staff canteen in the Olympic Park were told that they could not be served a simple plate of chips." The "only exception, they were told, was if the chips were accompanied by fish.” A LOCOG spokesperson “confirmed that the notice was genuine and that the embargo on chips extended to all Olympic venues.” However, the spokesperson added that the row “had now been resolved and site workers were free to order chips separately” (LONDON TIMES, 7/12).