Livestrong CEO Doug Ulman said the organization's goal is to "keep fighting for the mission" of helping cancer victims, despite recent reports of Lance Armstrong's PED use, according to Jim Vertuno of the AP. Ulman and other leaders with the charity are "banking on the idea that the good done by Armstrong the cancer fighter will overcome any damage to the organization done by the fall of Armstrong the athlete." Ulman said, "His leadership role doesn't change. He's the founder. He's our biggest advocate and always will be." Vertuno notes Armstrong cancelled a public appearance in Chicago Friday, but Ulman said that he will "be a big part of several days' worth of events in Austin next week" to celebrate the foundation's 15th anniversary. DC-based crisis and issues management firm Levick Exec VP Gene Grabowski "suggested Armstrong step away from his public role for a while." Grabowski said, "If the organization is that important to Lance, he might consider handing the reins to another high-profile person" (AP, 10/12).
STILL GOT HIS BACK? In DC, Liz Clarke notes several marketing experts said that Armstrong "may well lose his handsome corporate backing from Nike, Anheuser-Busch, Trek and others once existing contracts expire." And "given the damning details USADA has compiled ... Armstrong likely won’t forge any new corporate deals." Sports Business Group President David Carter said, "They may let those contracts lapse, rather than cut him immediately. They may choose not to feature him (in advertising or promotional campaigns) until the contracts run out. But for anyone to align with him now, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense until the smoke clears." Univ. of Oregon Warsaw Sports Marketing Center Managing Dir Paul Swangard said, "Lance as a brand is probably just not worth the trouble for anyone who is not currently attached to him" (WASHINGTON POST, 10/12). TIME magazine's Sean Gregory noted Nike's decision to support Armstrong "surprises some sports business experts." N.Y.-based sports marketing consultant Robert Tuchman said, "I thought they would have dropped him, to be frank." Gregory: "Nike is sending mixed messages, a problem for any brand. The company might make some of the best sportswear on the planet, and strive to do good around the world. But now, Nike is getting attention" for an anti-doping ad in '01 in which Armstrong says, "Everyone wants to know what I'm on. What am I on? I'm on my bike, busting my ass six hours a day" (TIME.com, 10/11). A-B VP/Marketing Paul Chibe Thursday said, "Our current relationship with Lance remains unchanged" (MARKETINGMAGAZINE.co.uk, 10/11).
GOING HOLLYWOOD: In L.A., Steven Zeitchik notes Oscar-winning documentarian Alex Gibney said that he has been "feverishly working" on his Armstrong film "in the wake of recent developments." The film, three years in the making, "is being financed and produced by Sony Pictures." Gibney said, "We're deep into the edit. Sometimes editing can take a while, but I'm hoping the movie will be finished in the next few months" (L.A. TIMES, 10/12).
NHL sponsors and advertisers are "now anxiously drawing up contingency plans in case more -- or eventually all -- of the season is compromised," according to Susan Krashinsky of the GLOBE & MAIL. Scotiabank Senior VP & Head of Marketing Duncan Hannay said, "The big impact for us is, we really have to plan our media strategy down two tracks -- with hockey, and without hockey." Krashinsky notes Kraft Canada "capitalizes on its sponsorship with its 'Hockeyville' program in partnership with the CBC, which allows communities to compete for prize money to upgrade their local arena." But with "questions about this year’s nomination process already coming in, the company has been forced to consider whether Hockeyville will be a reality in 2013." Kraft Canada VP/Marketing Services Jack Hewitt said, “We have a date we’ve agreed to with all the partners, where we’ll have to make a call on whether we continue with another community-based program.” He added that the company "has been working with an agency to develop that alternative event." Toronto-based Charlton Strategic Research President Gord Hendren, whose company conducts an annual survey of sports fans for clients such as Air Canada and Tim Hortons, said that the "brand health of the NHL is 'the best its ever been.'" He added that companies that were "perceived to be NHL sponsors ... enjoyed a 41 per cent lift in consumers’ opinions of their brand last season, and a 33 per cent increase in purchase consideration compared to those not seen as sponsors." Sun Life Financial CMO Mary DePaoli said that the company will "be announcing the launch of a high-profile fan event on Grey Cup Sunday, in partnership with the CFL." She said, "It’s a big investment on our part. And it’s something we may not have done if hockey was happening” (GLOBE & MAIL, 10/12).
SFX Baseball Group is "negotiating deals with multiple companies" on behalf of its client Tigers 3B Miguel Cabrera, and "more deals, with MLB sponsors, are likely to come after the postseason," according to Karl Henkel of the DETROIT NEWS. Marketing analysts said that a "strong playoff performance, coupled with a world championship, could land Cabrera endorsements that could total in the high six-figures annually." Henkel notes Cabrera has dealt with "past off-field problems," mostly related to "the consumption of alcohol." The Marketing Arm Senior Account Manager Matt Fleming said, "There are a couple of things holding him back a bit, specifically his off-the-field issues he's run into over the years and the fact that he's not a fluent English-speaking player, which tends to not help a ton on the marketing side of things." SFX Baseball Group Marketing Dir Cesar Sanchez said, "For the most part, yes, (it no longer is a factor). But it does still come up." Henkel writes Cabrera "and his infectious smile can only take him so far; the fact he doesn't speak the best English could significantly hinder his ability to land substantial, mainstream, deals." That leaves Cabrera with a few options: "learn to speak ... better English" or "entrust his marketing representatives to find endorsement deals that require him to speak as little as possible." He also "could endorse products that appeal to the U.S.-based Hispanic community." The Marketing Arm's Davie Brown Index ranks Cabrera "907th out of 2,500 celebs in the endorsement category" (DETROIT NEWS, 10/12).
Nike's Jordan Brand Thursday announced that it has signed Thunder G Russell Westbrook to a multiyear endorsement deal (Jordan Brand). FORBES' Lance Madden noted the Westbrook announcement comes after Heat G Dwyane Wade formally announced he is leaving Jordan Brand for Li-Ning, but with the addition of Westbrook "Nike’s most profitable sub-brand is doing just fine filling in for him" (FORBES.com, 10/11). Meanwhile, AD WEEK's Sam Thielman wrote Jordan Brand's new commercial featuring Clippers G Chris Paul and his new CP3.VI shoe "is a great spot." The ad, created by Wieden + Kennedy, N.Y., was shot on Venice Beach in L.A. Thielman: "Kudos to director Andreas Nilsson. This spot is destined for many tweets and Facebook shares" (ADWEEK.com, 10/10).
SPANISH CLASS: ELCONFIDENCIAL.com noted adidas and T’Wolves G Ricky Rubio have agreed on a 12-year, US$100M partnership. Reports of a possible deal first surfaced in the spring (ELCONFIDENCIAL.com, 10/11). adidas Global Basketball VP Lawrence Norman said in a statement said, "When you watch Ricky on the court and talk to him after practice, you understand his pure enjoyment of playing basketball and that makes him a perfect fit for our brand." Rubio said, "Growing up in Spain I always loved the adidas brand and their products. The last few years they’ve really changed the game with new technology and style in basketball shoes and apparel, and I can’t wait to be a part of it" (adidas).
PROTECT THIS HOUSE: Under Armour President, Chair & CEO Kevin Plank appeared on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” this morning, and said of becoming more “fashion” than athletic wear, “We're not exactly dressing people for the clubs tonight, but the fact is that we're looking for kids where we want to be authentic on court first and foremost, but you’ll notice after the court and after they're walking home, what shoes are they putting on? So we’re moving ourselves into that.” Plank said if Nike called, he was not looking to sell the company, but the “day that anyone offered me a sum of dollars greater than what I thought the vision or the capability of a company to achieve was, it would be my obligation. It wouldn't be my opinion or choice and we have such a huge idea of what this company can be. There's it no limit. Our goal is to be the greatest athletic sporting brand in the world” (“Squawk Box,” CNBC, 10/12).