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Volume 24 No. 114

Marketing and Sponsorship

The WTA Tour is launching a new ad campaign today featuring celebrities including Donald Trump, Aretha Franklin, Susan Sarandon, Randy Jackson, Stanley Tucci and Richard Branson, interspersed with players, touting the virtues of women’s tennis. The campaign is the second phase of the "Strong is Beautiful" series that began last year, featuring WTA players alone. Aided by CAA’s Alan Gold, a former tennis exec, the WTA reached out to the celebrities, who did not charge for the appearances. The WTA is not putting any cash behind the ads, but instead is offering them to tournaments and others to run. Tennis Channel is running them, as is CNN Int’l as part of a barter arrangement between the channel and the tennis circuit. WTA Chair & CEO Stacey Allaster also said the campaign is designed as a major social media effort, with the celebrities and WTA players expected to promote the ads through their Facebook and Twitter accounts. The WTA also will run the three video ads on YouTube. Allaster said the hope is that fans of the celebrities who may not be tennis followers will now watch the sport. Each of the celebrities ads carries their own tag line, followed by “Strong is Women’s Tennis.” Trump’s for example says, “Strong is having the heart to dream big and the fortitude to live your dream.” Reel Sessions, an L.A. production company, developed the creative.

The United Way has created a new PSA campaign that features a group of NFL players in an effort to "recruit volunteer readers, tutors and mentors" to help the organization "meet its goal of cutting the number of high school dropouts in the United States in half by 2018," according to Jane Levere of the N.Y. TIMES. "Team NFL" will be made of up one player from each NFL team that is "college-educated, civic-minded and an actively involved United Way volunteer." Each player has "pledged to personally recruit at least 3,000 volunteers by 2014." Eagles CB Nnamdi Asomugha, who has been active with the United Way since '09, will be joined by Giants DT Chris Canty, Cowboys CB Brandon Carr, Browns WR Josh Cribbs and Panthers QB Cam Newton in 30- and 60-second TV spots, the first ads from McCann Erickson, N.Y., for the United Way "to feature multiple NFL players." There also is "outdoor advertising customized to each NFL market, featuring the player representative from the local team." The Ad Council "will distribute the new advertising in time for the start of the 2012 football season." NFL Network will also run the ads. The NFL and the United Way have partnered since '73 (, 8/20).

Broncos QB Peyton Manning continues to top the NFL best-selling jerseys list. Manning ranks ahead of Redskins QB Robert Griffin III and Jets QB Tim Tebow for all jerseys bought on from April 1-July 31. QBs make up eight of the top nine spots, with 49ers LB Patrick Willis (No. 7) breaking up the run of signal-callers (NFL).

Broncos QB Peyton Manning
Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski
Redskins QB Robert Griffin III
Packers LB Clay Matthews
Jets QB Tim Tebow
Ravens LB Ray Lewis
Colts QB Andrew Luck
Lions WR Calvin Johnson
Giants QB Eli Manning
Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers
Cowboys DE DeMarcus Ware
49ers LB Patrick Willis
Bears LB Brian Urlacher
Patriots QB Tom Brady
Cowboys TE Jason Witten
Panthers QB Cam Newton
Raiders RB Darren McFadden
Steelers S Troy Polamalu
Eagles QB Michael Vick
Giants WR Victor Cruz
Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger
Saints QB Drew Brees
Broncos LB Von Miller
Cowboys QB Tony Romo

PURPLE PEOPLE EATERS: In Minneapolis, Ken Chia reviewed the apparel of Vikings fans at Friday's preseason game against the Bills. He noted more than half of the fans "were wearing a jersey of some sort -- authentic, replica, T-shirt, whatever -- and of those, it seemed like half" wore RB Adrian Peterson's No. 28 jersey. The "runner-up in the popularity contest ... was Jared Allen's No. 69, with Percy Harvin's No. 12 a distant third." There "weren't a lot of people" with QB Christian Ponder's No. 7 jersey, as he was "outnumbered by the likes of his predecessors" Brett Favre and Donovan McNabb (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 8/20).

The Phillies' licensed MLB merchandise reached an "estimated total sales of $812 million" in '11, but  with the team's run of on-field success coming to a "sudden, screeching halt, the falloff in those sales has mirrored the deterioration of its won-loss record," according to Frank Fitzpatrick of the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER. A year ago, of the "$5 billion business" done with the sale of licensed MLB merchandise, the Phillies "accounted for an astonishingly large share, 16.2 percent." Only the Yankees "surpassed" the Phillies' sales figures. But with the team struggling in '12, SportsOneSource analyst Matt Powell said that the "purchase of Phillies-related products has declined by 60 percent." Powell said, "They're still No. 2 behind the Yankees. But their share of the market has fallen from 16.2 percent to 8.9." Fitzpatrick noted if the 60% figure for "non-ballpark sales continues through the end of 2012, the yearly total for the Phils would be about $487 million, a decline of $325 million from 2011." Assuming a 100% markup and a 10% team royalty, "the team-licensing revenue generated by the Phillies products would dip from $81 million to $48 million." Phillies Merchandising Dir Scott Brandreth said, "We're down. Definitely. Our fans know when we're not playing well, and that affects the sales numbers." Powell noted that through July, MLB's merchandise sales "were off 25 percent from a year ago." He said, "Some of the big teams, the Phillies and Red Sox in particular, are having down years. And the teams that are having good years, like Texas and Washington, just don't have the fan bases" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 8/20).

Nike is “raising shoe and clothing prices by 5% to 10%” as labor, materials and shipping costs increase, according to analysts cited by Shelly Banjo of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The price increases, from a company “whose trendy footwear sometimes generates long lines of avid buyers, may test even the most dedicated Nike fans.” Nike Global Corporate Communications Dir Mary Remuzzi said Nike is "not arbitrarily taking up prices." Remuzzi said, "We are constantly looking at ways to enhance the product line with new innovation and product attributes." A test of the approach “comes this fall, when Nike will debut its priciest sneaker yet -- an expected $315 LeBron James basketball shoe that includes its own electronics.” The LeBron X Nike Plus is “expected to come embedded with motion sensors that can measure how high players jump.” Nike's price increases also are “being felt at the lower end: The venerable Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star sneaker now costs $50 compared with $45 a year ago.”  Banjo notes Nike “isn't the only sneaker maker asking customers to pay more.” adidas' signature three-striped Superstar shoes “now cost $70, nearly 8% more than a year ago” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/21).

NEW RULES: In a separate piece, Banjo reports Nike is “trying to scale back the way it releases its highly coveted new sneakers” after recent launches have caused “outbreaks of violence and unruliness outside stores.” Under new rules, sporting-goods stores such as Foot Locker or Dick's Sporting Goods “will have to open their doors at 8 a.m., forgoing the popular midnight releases that encouraged people to camp outside and stampede stores.” Nike in a company memo “told retailers it will no longer allow stores to presell or take reservations for new shoes.” Nike also is “banning store chains from displaying photos or other descriptions of new products ahead of their launch dates.” Banjo notes “violent crowds surrounding Nike's shoe launches date back decades, but analysts say social media has made the buildup to the events more intense” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/21).

Top-selling import beer brand Corona is celebrating the launch of the football season with a "Find Your Beach For The Game" promotion featuring ESPN "MNF" analyst Jon Gruden. A sweepstakes offering a trip to one of Gruden's top football destinations is offered. The contest can be entered via text message or a Facebook page, where webisodes will highlight Gruden’s top gameday beaches. Support includes POS and on-premise displays, along with radio and digital ads on sites including ESPN, Hulu, CBS Sports and Fox Sports. Corona has been a sponsor of "MNF" for the past two seasons, including having a logo on the "MNF" bus. A personal services contract with Gruden was added for this year’s campaign. Scout Sports & Entertainment negotiated the deal for Corona.

IMG Academy this month will merge its independent athletic programs "under one new name to enhance the academy's global marketing strategy,” according to Josh Salman of the BRADENTON HERALD. The new-look IMG Academy is "focused on creating a feel at its Bradenton campus that more closely mirrors that of a university.” The change is part of a “long-range expansion plan that also includes new dormitories, a student union and bolstered sports offerings.” IMG hired N.Y.-based consulting firm Tribal DDB to “vet options for unifying the campus” and the end result “takes a page from the collegiate model, where student athletes of all sports share a common bond by representing one athletic program.” Nick Bollettieri, the "original founder of IMG Academy more than three decades ago,” and the Bollettieri name will continue to play an active role within the tennis program, and IMG's relationship with Pro Football HOFer John Madden will remain unchanged. Salman noted staff meetings were called last week “to inform the 650 full-time workers of the change” and IMG is “in the process of replacing signs at its 450-acre campus.” The academy's 10-year blueprint “shifts the focus of the campus from the front -- where the clubhouse, classrooms and most housing now stand -- closer to the secluded soccer, baseball and football fields to the rear of the property.” The front hub was developed “to accommodate the tennis and golf programs, which came first.” There are plans for a “new five-story student housing complex in the center of campus, which is slated to be completed by July 2013.” The 10-year master plan “even calls for a full-sized football stadium for IMG's new high school team” (BRADENTON HERALD, 8/19).

In London, McGuire & Thorogood reported MLS Galaxy MF David Beckham earned $16.4M "from sponsorship deals last year," up $2.1M from the previous year. Beckham also "earns millions through a joint firm" with his wife Victoria, and the firm collects money from their perfume ranges as well as contracts with clothing retailer H&M. A source said, "The figures are a clear sign that Brand Beckham is as strong as ever. David may be nearing retirement from football, but his image is still as valued as ever" (London SUN, 8/19). Meanwhile, 10-foot-tall “metallic statues of soccer star David Beckham, sporting designer underwear, are being put up on both coasts as part of his new ad campaign for H&M.” Three of the “larger-than-life statues have been placed inside H&M's midtown-Manhattan store," while elsewhere in N.Y. there is “also one in Central Park and another at the South Street Seaport." There are also two statues in L.A. and one in S.F., which will “remain on display until Aug. 31” (AP, 8/17).

TOWEL TANGO: In Pittsburgh, Paula Reed Ward noted a federal lawsuit against a company “selling an Italian-language version of the Terrible Towel was dismissed Friday after both parties agreed the product was no longer being sold.” The AVS Foundation, “which holds the trademark, filed the complaint along with the Pittsburgh Steelers against Nicholas Rossi and Husky Homes Inc., doing business as Tanto Abruzzo, and Squirrel Hill News Stand.” At a hearing before U.S. District Judge Arthur Schwab on Friday, Rossi “assured the court he no longer produces the towels” (, 8/20).

ENTER THE DRAGON:’s Michael Huang noted apparel company RYU has “teamed up with the Bruce Lee Foundation to offer a new product that inspires both MMA fans and athletes.” RYU's limited-edition Warrior hoodie debuted early this month and stitched on the shirt "is Lee’s mantra: 'Walk On,' which resonates with MMA fighters who persevere through adversity” (, 8/19).