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Volume 24 No. 117

Marketing and Sponsorship

There is evidence that "suggests Nike is not simply a sponsor that chose to remain visibly loyal" to Lance Armstrong, but "an active participant in what the USADA report described as the most sophisticated doping program in sports history," according to Michael O’Keeffe of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. Kathy Lemond, the wife of American cyclist Greg Lemond, testified during an '06 deposition that Nike paid former Int'l Cycling Union President Hein Verbruggen $500,000 to "cover up a positive drug test.” Betsy Andreu, the wife of Armstrong’s former friend and teammate, Frankie Andreu, said, “Lance didn’t do it alone. ... How else could he pull off the biggest fraud in the history of sport? He had big corporations backing him, the cycling governing body, UCI, defending him, and the media ignoring the evidence. No wonder fans thought that he was clean” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/16). Nike North America Media Relations Manager KeJuan Wilkins in a statement said, "In response to the offensive allegations in today’s New York Daily News, Nike vehemently denies that it paid former UCI president Hein Verbruggen $500,000 to cover up a positive drug test. Nike does not condone the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs" (THE DAILY). Meanwhile, the PA reports the UCI “has been criticised for accepting a cash donation" from Armstrong. The UCI has “admitted accepting a donation of more than $100,000 from Armstrong in 2002, but has strongly denied that it was connected to any cover-up of a positive test” (PA, 10/16).

STAGING A MILD PROTEST:'s Pat Malach reports former pro cyclist Paul Willerton and a "small group of athletes and cycling fans plan to show up" at Nike HQs in Beaverton, Ore., today to "protest the company's continuing support" for Armstrong. Willerton said that he is "proud of the steps cycling is taking to clean itself out and up, which makes Nike's steadfast refusal to step away from Armstrong all the more frustrating." Willerton said of the evidence from USADA: "Nike's position -- they're so influential -- and right now they're just sitting on the wrong side of this" (, 10/16).

TEAR DOWN THE WALL: YAHOO SPORTS’ Martin Rogers wrote under the header, “KC Soccer Stadium Needs To Drop Livestrong Name After Lance Armstrong Scandal.” When MLS Sporting K.C. last year adopted the Livestrong name for its stadium, it "did so for the right reasons and its hierarchy knew nothing of the extraordinary level of corruption and malfeasance the organization's founder, Lance Armstrong, would be accused of by his friends, colleagues, employees and a national anti-drug agency.” But it is now “time for a change.” Sporting K.C. “needs to get rid of the Livestrong name, and don't think for a moment that by doing so it would be turning its back on cancer in any way.” Sporting K.C. CEO Robb Heineman is a “forward-thinking executive and a good man, but he and his associates are making the wrong call here” (, 10/15).

After Giants LF Melky Cabrera was suspended for violating MLB's PED policy, the team has “so distanced themselves" from him that they have "made his name disappear,” according to Bill Shaikin of the L.A. TIMES. The Giants are “selling T-shirts with names of all their players on the back,” one commemorating the team's NL West championship, and another for its NLCS appearance. Cabrera's name “is not on either shirt.” Giants President & CEO Larry Baer said that he was “unaware of the names on particular T-shirts but acknowledged that the team has dropped Cabrera from its marketing and promotions since his suspension.” Baer: “We didn't feel it was appropriate.” Shaikin notes Cabrera's suspension “expired after the division series,” but the Giants “did not reinstate him for the NLCS” (, 10/16).

Reebok is “readying a global marketing blitz featuring several fitness pursuits such as running and yoga as the sportswear giant steps up efforts to persuade people to view keeping fit with the same ‘passion’ as they do traditional sports,” according to Sebastian Joseph of MARKETING WEEK. Reebok's new TV, print, digital and outdoor campaign will "launch in February." The company also will "crowdsource product designs from fitness trainers through several grassroots initiatives." The new campaign moves Reebok’s brand strategy “on from its previous focus" around the Crossfit fitness program. Reebok said its immersion in fitness and Crossfit is "unprecedented." The company added the next stage of the strategy is to convey the “competitive nature of fitness as a sport.” Reebok VP/Fitness & Training Chris Froio said, “We’re striking an important duality in our advertising where we want to make sure that people understand that we stand for fitness as a lifestyle but also emphasise the innovation behind our products.” He added, “We know the reasons for why our sales were so down in Q2 and we've changed the business to address this. We've reorganised ourselves around different categories to drive growth” (, 10/15).

CleanTools Distribution announced a partnership with NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson to be the official spokesperson for car care product DryShine. Johnson’s name and image will appear in the campaign, which includes a two-minute TV ad, a Facebook page and a DryShine website. Portions of the TV commercial will air in the U.S. beginning next month, followed by a DryShine national retail campaign in '13 (CleanTools)....The Football Federation Australia and Nike have extended their partnership in an 11-year deal that calls for Nike's logo to "appear on the Socceroos jersey throughout the next three World Cup campaigns." FFA CEO Ben Buckley confirmed that it has "become the largest financial contribution to Australian football" aside from the broadcast deal with Fox Sports (SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, 10/15)....EPL club Manchester United announced a three-year partnership with Azerbaijan-based telecommunications company Bakcell to become the club’s first telecommunications and broadcast partner for the country. The deal provides the company with exclusive team content (ManU).