Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 24 No. 117

Marketing and Sponsorship

Nike last week informed IMG execs that the company would discontinue its sponsorship of the U.S. Open of Surfing. The company had been the title sponsor of the IMG-managed event in Huntington Beach, Calif., since '09. Its subsidiary, Hurley, sponsored the event in '08. Sources valued the title sponsorship at $2-3M a year. Nike used the U.S. Open as one of its primary marketing vehicles as it raised the profile of its action sports lines like Nike SB and Nike 6.0. It also promoted its other lifestyle brands, Hurley and Converse, at the event. IMG Senior VP & Dir of Action Sports James Leitz said, "We worked really well with those brands. They helped us elevate that event to a whole new level. We had fun doing it." Nike communication officials did not return calls seeking comment. In an interview with, which first reported Nike's decision, Nike Global Action Senior VP Sandy Bodecker said, "We are always looking for new ways to connect with athletes and consumers. In the spirit of evolving, we are exploring new opportunities to help elevate the sport beyond the sand to new audiences around the world." Leitz said that IMG has begun looking for a new title sponsor. Previous events were title sponsored by Honda, Phillips and Bank of the West. Title sponsorships include national media and "an immersive partnership" that allows the sponsor to help shape and organize the event, Leitz said. IMG will continue working with Nike on the Hurley Pro competition in Australia. Leitz said, "We're grateful for our four years."

Nike yesterday announced that a court in Nuremberg, Germany, “has blocked Adidas from making or selling its ‘adizero primeknit’ in Germany,” according to Allan Brettman of the Portland OREGONIAN. The court "granted Nike’s application for an interim injunction against the Adidas shoe,” as Nike contends that the shoe “is a copy of the Nike Flyknit shoe.” Nike said that it will "seek a permanent injunction." Nike in February “introduced Flyknit among several products linked with the 2012 Summer Olympics Games.” Company execs "called the shoe revolutionary because of its upper design that uses little more than thread, reducing cutting floor waste associated with the shoe production process." adidas on July 25 then introduced Primeknit in advance of the London Games, for which it was the official apparel sponsor. Its "similarity to Flyknit was unmistakable.” adidas "made the most of the product's Olympics splash," as the red-and-white model "sported '2012' on the tongue." Also, a “parade of Adidas-affiliated athletes were photographed in London holding the shoe" (Portland OREGONIAN, 9/25).

Furniture Row Racing has hired NASCAR driver Kurt Busch to drive the team's No. 78 Chevy for the '13 Sprint Cup Series. Busch, who has been with Phoenix Racing since the beginning of the '12 season, will replace Regan Smith (Furniture Row Racing).'s Tom Jensen wrote, "It has been a challenging season for Busch, who is ranked 25th in Sprint Cup points." Furniture Row "had been rumored to be in line to become the factory Dodge team next year, but with Dodge withdrawing from NASCAR, it is likely the team will remain with Chevrolet” (, 9/24).

BRANCHING OUT: M&C Saatchi CEO David Kershaw said that the agency is “considering rolling out its Sports & Entertainment division into Brazil, as the country gears up to host the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics.” BRAND REPUBLIC's Ben Bold noted the M&C Saatchi sports division “currently has operations in the UK, Germany and Australia." Kershaw said that M&C Saatchi was “also looking at South Africa" (, 9/24).

LENDING A HAND: In Ft. Lauderdale, Donna Gehrke-White notes Dolphins WR Davone Bess “will partner with South Florida-based BankUnited to promote youngsters’ financial literacy with the second annual 4 Downs for Finance." One essay winner will be announced during each Dolphins game, and "will win an autographed football by Bess." A grand-prize winner "will be chosen from the weekly winners and will meet Bess and receive $1,000" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 9/25).