Nike Thursday removed Joe Paterno's name from the Child Development Center at its Beaverton, Ore., HQs after the Freeh Report was critical of both Penn State Univ. and Paterno “for allegedly covering up for a child abuser rather than risk embarrassment to the football program, according to a front-page piece by Allan Brettman of the Portland OREGONIAN. Nike indicated that this is the "first time ... a name would be removed" from a building. The Joe Paterno Child Development Center was named in ’90, and few endorsers would have seemed to "have been a safer choice for the name on a child-development center than the quiet, grandfatherly" Paterno. After allegations surfaced in November against former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, “and even after news reports indicated Paterno interceded to keep secret an incident of child abuse, Nike steadfastly said the name of the childcare center would not change.” But on Thursday, three hours “after former FBI director and U.S. District Court judge Louis Freeh announced the results of a Penn State-funded investigation into the university's handling of the scandal, Nike relented.” Nike Founder & Chair Phil Knight said, "It appears Joe made missteps that led to heartbreaking consequences. I missed that Joe missed it, and I am extremely saddened on this day. My love for Joe and his family remains." The removal of his name was a “rare move for a company that has shown great patience for the misbehaviors of its athletes over the years.” Several "larger-than-life Nike athletes have proven themselves to be abundantly fallible” in recent years, including Lance Armstrong, Kobe Bryant, Brett Favre, Ben Roethlisberger, Michael Vick and Tiger Woods (Portland OREGONIAN, 7/13). Paterno’s son, Jay, said, “I think Nike is a public corporation, they have stockholders and a board, and this is an emotional issue. I understand they have pressure to do things” (ESPN.com, 7/12).
Marketing and Sponsorship
The National Guard said that it has "no plans to drop its sponsorship" of NASCAR, according to Bob Pockrass of SPORTING NEWS. The National Guard "has budgeted to spend $26.5 million on its NASCAR program this year." That will "sponsor 16 races for Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Hendrick Motorsports as well as cover its displays, hospitality and other racing-related marketing and advertising." This comes after the Army on Tuesday announced it is withdrawing its sponsorship of Stewart-Haas Racing after the '12 NASCAR season. U.S. Reps Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) and Jack Kingston (D-Ga.) "sponsored an amendment to the 2013 defense appropriations bill to block military divisions from sponsoring race teams." National Guard President Gus Hargett Jr. said in a statement, "Recruiting for our all-volunteer force isn't what it used to be. ... Television advertising no longer carries the payoff it once did. Today, you have to know how smart, fit young people think, where they live and play, and go to them." The National Guard has "been aligned with the sport's most popular driver since 2008 and does generate some revenue back from merchandise sales." Hargett said, "We applaud lawmakers ... for asking tough questions about how and where scarce defense dollars are spent. But we believe military marketing experts should evaluate return on investment and determine without restriction where best to put increasingly scarce recruiting dollars" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 7/12).
The EPL has agreed to a new three-year deal with Barclays, keeping the financial institution as the global title sponsor of the league through '16. The deal has a value of $61.69M (all figures U.S.) a season to the EPL, and begins with the '13-14 season. The agreement includes the global title sponsorship of the EPL and exclusive worldwide marketing rights, U.K. and int'l TV program accreditation, advertising rights, match day tickets and hospitality, and joint community activity (EPL). In London, Rory Smith notes the $185.1M contract "represents a significant improvement on the present arrangement, under which the bank pays" $42.4M a season. The raise comes "just a month after the Premier League secured a 70 per cent increase in the value of its domestic television rights deal." The new deal "makes Barclays' arrangement with the Premier League by far the most lucrative in Europe" (LONDON TIMES, 7/13). The AP's Rob Harris noted Barclays has "held naming rights to the world's richest soccer league since 2001" (AP, 7/12).
A controversy is brewing around the fact the uniforms Team USA will wear in the London Games Opening Ceremony are being made in China, and several politicians Thursday "jumped into the fashion fray,” according to Moore & Brady of USA TODAY. The pols criticized the USOC "for approving the uniforms” designed by Ralph Lauren. U.S. Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said the USOC should be "ashamed" that the blue blazers, white pants and berets that American athletes will wear are manufactured in China. Reid: "They should take all the uniforms, put them in a big pile and burn them." Other lawmakers also “were critical of the apparel.” Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) said of USOC officials, "You'd think they'd know better." But U.S. men’s volleyball player Todd Rogers said, "I would say there are much bigger issues to worry about than where Ralph Lauren has the opening ceremonies clothes made" (USA TODAY, 7/13). ABC News' Sharyn Alfonsi noted members of Congress "say they’re anxious to hear some kind of response” from the USOC ("World News," ABC, 7/12). NBC News' Brian Williams said, “Are there better things for the Senate to worry about, like legislation? Sure, but it is a minor PR problem prior to the Games. The USOC, for their part, says they’re happy to have a high-profile sponsor like Ralph Lauren” (“Nightly News,” NBC, 7/12).
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING: USOC Chief Communications Officer Patrick Sandusky on Twitter “called the outrage over the made-in-China uniforms nonsense.” He said Ralph Lauren "financially supports our team,” and it is an “American company that supports American athletes." The AP’s Donna Cassata noted this is “not the first time that Ralph Lauren has designed the Olympic uniforms,” yet that “did little to quell the anger on Capitol Hill” (AP, 7/12). CBS News' Erica Hill noted it would "probably be a little tough” to replace the uniforms in time for the Opening Ceremony. Hill: "I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a little scrambling going on behind the scenes to do something about it” (“CBS This Morning,” CBS, 7/13). ABC News’ Josh Elliott said, “If ever there was a piece of clothing to be made in the U.S. this would seem to be it. ... You know you’re onto something when everybody is agreeing in Washington” (“GMA,” ABC, 7/13).
Marvel Entertainment Thursday announced a licensing agreement with Russell Athletic for a Marvel Super Hero Russell Athletic Collegiate apparel program. Some of the participating universities include UCLA, Michigan State, Baylor, Kansas State, Mississippi State, UNLV, Ohio State and Iowa. Marvel's current co-branded sports apparel programs include the NBA and the Cowboys (Marvel). MARKETING DAILY's Karl Greenberg noted the cross-promotional campaign will visit 200 colleges "starting this summer before the beginning of the academic year." Russell will sell T-shirts and hoodies "bearing representations of Marvel characters like Spider-Man, Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, Thor and Wolverine." The superheroes will wear "each college’s respective school colors along with their mascots and logos." The move is "consistent with Marvel's push into sports." Last year the NHL "did a deal with superhero co-inventor Stan Lee to create a superhero character for each of the 30 teams" in the league. Marvel Entertainment Dir of Licensing Michael Jerchower said, "A co-branded college program seemed like a natural extension as our characters generate great appeal to this student and family demographic" (MEDIAPOST.com, 7/12).
Texas A&M Thursday unveiled its new adidas football uniforms and the combinations “include an all-maroon look and an all-white look along with maroon jerseys with white pants and white jerseys with maroon pants,” according to David Harris of the BRYAN-COLLEGE STATION EAGLE. The helmets feature “a white style and a maroon style,” and adidas Dir of Football Mark Daniels said that the look “was neither gloss nor matte.” It is called “anodized maroon.” The jerseys are “an ode to the tradition of A&M.” Daniels said that the stripes down the side “were an attempt to channel the 1970s.” Texas A&M VP/Marketing & Communications Jason Cook said, “We wanted to stay true to the brand. We are a traditional brand.” He added, “With a new coach and new conference, it was an opportunity to modernize the brand. We stayed true to who we are and put it into today's terms.” Cook “had a say in the new logo, with the A&M logo inside the outline of the state of Texas.” He said, “We're going to claim the state of Texas for the SEC. You're going to see that mark a lot in our marketing moving forward” (AGGIESPORTS.com, 7/13). ESPN.com’s Paul Lukas, who runs the site’s “Uni Watch” blog, wrote the outline of the state of Texas on the school’s new logo “fits nicely, plus it distracts from that annoying beveling on the T." Texas A&M also has "put the '12th Man' designation on the base layer," which looks "good." The white helmet option "looks pretty sharp." Lukas: "All in all, the Aggies are definitely ready for their SEC close-up" (ESPN.com, 7/12).
StubHub has struck a multiyear deal with EPL club Sunderland, expanding the secondary ticket company's foothold in England following its expansion there late last year. The deal allows Sunderland season-ticket holders to resell seats without restrictions on pricing. StubHub will become a platinum-level partner of the club, and develop a series of seat upgrades and experiential rewards around Sunderland. StubHub and rival firm Viagogo are in the midst of a rush for market share among EPL clubs as traditional restrictions around ticket resale in the U.K. begin to ease (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal). Meanwhile, in London, Charles Sale noted StubHub, "who want to establish themselves in the U.K., have signed" a US$2.63M deal with EPL club Everton to "trade season tickets." The deal "will allow Everton’s membership to re-sell seats well above face value if there is demand." Viagogo is "in the process of doing similar deals with Fulham, Aston Villa and Newcastle, with some clubs choosing to have a minimum guarantee of face-value return as well as a maximum" 25% mark-up (London DAILY MAIL, 7/10).
If the U.S. team manages to defeat the European squad in September’s Ryder Cup, the players will be popping the cork on Moet & Chandon, which is the new official champagne of the PGA of America. Among the rights Moet & Chandon secured in the three-year deal is official status for the U.S. side in the Ryder Cup, beginning this year. The champagne also will have full marketing rights for the PGA Championship for '13 and ’14. Moet & Chandon will be present for all of the commemorative moments of these competitions, including the trophy presentation. The brand's on-the-ground activation will include a Moet bar for spectators where it will sell products and commemorative bottles that spectators can buy. Moet also has rights to the PGA of America logo on all advertising and promotions.
In Baton Rouge, Mike McCall noted ESPN’s deal with NCC Media “will result in more political ads on the sports network this fall.” That means that during the heart of college football season, “there will be no evading the back-and-forth between Barack Obama, Mitt Romney and their respective supporters.” McCall: “If you’re like me, that’s dismaying and exhausting news.” Given the “truth-stretching nature of those type of ads, no matter how off-target your team’s quarterback is during games, you can expect less accurate throws (of mud) in the commercial breaks.” And that means “less peace at your Saturday night watch-parties” (Baton Rouge ADVOCATE, 7/10).
REBUTTAL: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Angus Loten noted BodyArmor Nutrition on Thursday responded to Under Armour's trademark infringement allegations, claiming Under Armour's lawsuit filed in federal court in Baltimore is a "prime example of trademark bullying by a corporate giant." Under Armour VP/Global Brand Communications & Entertainment Diane Pelkey Thursday in a statement said, "The fact that our brand image is being exploited validates the unfortunate need for this lawsuit." BodyArmor Nutrition co-Owner Mike Repole said, "No one is going to confuse an apparel company with a beverage company. We're going to fight this" (WSJ.com, 7/12).
I WORK OUT: In Baltimore, Jill Rosen reported Ravens LB Ray Lewis is “selling a new fitness program that involves little more than a deck of cards.” It costs $75 but consumers had the chance to buy it Thursday “for $35 through Groupon.” Lewis' website, “RL52 Cycling Shop, insists that all anyone needs to build muscle and lose fat, Ray-style, is that deck of cards and 52 days.” He is also “selling workout DVDs,” and one of his “exercise bikes -- he’s got three models on the site -- will cost $1,100 to $1,900” (BALTIMORESUN.com, 7/12).
GEOGRAPHY LESSON: In Boston, Galen Moore reported Powerade has erected a billboard on I-93N near TD Garden depicting Heat F LeBron James "grinning at them.” The billboard reads, “Congrats LeBron. A championship has a nice ring to it” (BIZJOURNALS.com, 7/12). The Heat have ousted the Celtics in the playoffs each of the last two seasons (THE DAILY).