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Volume 24 No. 112

Marketing and Sponsorship

In a “shifting world where some experts are starting to doubt celebrities' power to heavily influence consumer buying,” Nike's $2.7B in annual marketing is being “spent like never before on things other than endorsement contracts for famous athletes,” according to Allan Brettman of the Portland OREGONIAN. Nike “forged a partnership” with the NFL “to supply uniforms for its 32 teams.” Nike also “outfits the majority of Division I college football and basketball programs” and is the “official soccer ball sponsor for the English Premier League, four other major soccer leagues, 23 soccer federations and hundreds of teams worldwide.” Nike ads, via Wieden+Kennedy, Portland, have “shined a spotlight on non-celebrities.” The company's "Find Your Greatness" campaign during the London Games “focused on the everyday athlete.” Nike has also “placed its marketing muscle behind other non-celebrity campaigns, such as the ‘We Run’ road race series.” The company has “stopped signing major deals since paying" a reported $90M to Heat F LeBron James "in a seven-year deal that was extended in 2010.” SportsOneSource analyst Matt Powell said, "Brands do need athletes to play and excel in their shoes, but athletes don't move product like they used to." Brettman wrote there will “never be another Michael Jordan." adidas “may have similar hopes” for Bulls G Derrick Rose, with whom the company signed an estimated 13-year, $185M deal. But Powell said there is "no way Adidas can make that back on shoe sales." Sportswear company Li-Ning may “realize a sales bounce in its native China through its endorsement deal” with Heat G Dwyane Wade. However, Powell said Li-Ning's U.S. sales “won't matter at all” and called the endorsement "a major waste of money” (Portland OREGONIAN, 10/21).

SEPARATING FROM LANCE: In a separate piece, Brettman wrote Nike’s image “may have suffered a black eye when it severed its endorsement contract” with Lance Armstrong last week, but “it's unclear how much money the fallen cycling star ever brought to the sports apparel company.” Brettman: “It's clear the dollars from cycling were never big. If they were, Nike would still be in the game.” Nike partnered with Amaury Sport Organisation from ‘96-‘11 as “an official sponsor, supplier and licensee of the Tour de France.” About a year after Armstrong's last Tour de France win in ‘05, the company “largely abandoned selling its branded bicycling apparel and shoes” (Portland OREGONIAN, 10/21).

DROP HIM LIKE IT'S HOT: In DC, Deron Snyder wrote Nike “had no choice but to drop Armstrong.” He had become “a toxic asset for premier corporate brands." Nike was “wise, though, in covering itself on both ends, asserting its continued backing of Livestrong," which has raised $500M million to help people fighting cancer (WASHINGTON TIMES, 10/21). ESPN’s John Saunders said, "Nike stood by Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant and Ben Roethlisberger during disgraced times and will gladly take your money for sneakers or a set of golf clubs. But Nike knows when it helped wrap Armstrong’s yellow band around your wrist, it did so because of a lie. We’re thankful it helped fight cancer, but we were deceived” (“The Sports Reporters,” ESPN, 10/21). Meanwhile, Oakley today announced it has severed its longstanding sponsorship of Armstrong. The company added that it will continue to support the Livestrong Foundation, which it referred to as a "positive force" (Oakley). The move comes after the UCI, cycling's governing body, "stripped him of his Tour de France titles and banned him for life following doping allegations" (AP, 10/22).

Richard Petty Motorsports and Ford Racing on Friday announced that they will continue their manufacturing partnership, which extends to RPM's NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series teams, through '13. RPM also will continue its supply deal with Roush Fenway Racing and Roush-Yates Racing. In the Sprint Cup Series, RPM will continue to field the No. 9 Ford Fusion with primary sponsorship by Stanley and DeWalt, as well as the No. 43 Fusion with primary sponsorship from Smithfield Foods. In the Nationwide Series, RPM will field the No. 43 Mustang sponsored by Pilot/Flying J (THE DAILY). In Charlotte, David Scott noted RPM driver Marcos Ambrose was “happy with the news and said he's confident he will remain with the team next season.” Ambrose said, "I can’t see any reason why I wouldn’t want stay with (RPM) next in 2013. I think it’s a solid choice and there is room to grow in the future and I look forward to being part of it” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 10/20). Ambrose said that he is “close to an extension with the team.” Ambrose: "We are all squared away as far as what the expectations are on both sides and it is just a matter of finishing off at this point" (, 10/19).

Pacers Sports & Entertainment and the WNBA-champion Fever on Friday announced a deal with Finish Line to feature the retailer's logo on Fever jerseys beginning with the ’13 season. Finish Line will be included in Fever TV broadcasts and team merchandise, advertising and signage at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Finish Line will also receive in-game advertising as part of the Pacers and Fever radio networks, as well as web links on the Fever and Bankers Life Fieldhouse websites (Pacers Sports & Entertainment). In Indianapolis, David Woods reported the Fever become the “sixth team in the WNBA to have a jersey sponsorship,” joining the Mercury, Sparks, Storm, Liberty and Mystics (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 10/20).

With the NBA mulling plans to become the “first of the four major sports leagues in North America to put sponsors’ logos on uniforms,” the N.Y. TIMES' Viv Bernstein asks if the logos would "give sponsors more power?” Logos on NBA jerseys, which would be “two and a half inches square on the shoulders of jerseys, would give sponsors a running, passing, shooting and dunking billboard.” NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski said, “It’s just like NASCAR. The business model of the sport will adjust to having sponsors. And once it adjusts, that will create a leverage factor that gives the sponsors the leverage.” Bernstein wrote sponsor leverage in NASCAR “includes playing a role in what driver is hired to wear that company logo -- and marketability is in some cases more important than success on the track.” But it is “hard for some to imagine that level of sway in a team sport.” Former driver and broadcaster Kyle Petty said that the trend of sponsor leverage "began 10 to 15 years ago" when deals rose from $1-2M annually to $15-20M today. Petty said, “When the money got so big, then the sponsors began to have a stronger role. If my livelihood is coming from sponsorship, then that’s who I have to protect, and my allegiance is to that sponsor.” Driver behavior is often “subject to sponsor approval.” Team owner and driver Tony Stewart was “once fined $50,000 by the Home Depot for a physical confrontation with a photographer after a race in 2002.” M&M’s, a sponsor for Kyle Busch, pulled its logo from his No. 18 Toyota “after an on-track incident last season, and Busch feared he would be fired by Joe Gibbs Racing” (N.Y. TIMES, 10/21).

The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office has accepted an application from Jets QB Tim Tebow to trademark “Tebowing, his signature prayer,” according to Brian Lewis of the N.Y. POST. The application was “filed by Tebow’s marketing arm, XV Enterprises Limited; although he insists it isn’t about marketing or even money, but controlling the message.” Tebow does not “expect to profit himself off the trademark, but if he does, any money would go toward his Tim Tebow Foundation.” Tebow said, “It’s something I do that’s prayer for me and it got hyped as Tebowing." Lewis noted while Tebow was with the Broncos last season, "Tebowing" merchandise “started flooding the market, although without flooding his coffers.” While Tebow’s trademark “won’t keep people from Tebowing, it will keep anybody else from profiting from it” (, 10/19). BLOOMBERG NEWS' Nancy Kercheval reported the trademark gives Tebow “approval to use ‘Tebowing’ on hats, shirts, T-shirts, as well as jewelry, clocks, watches, cuff links, tie pins, ornamental pins and holiday ornaments of precious metals.” Rockets G Jeremy Lin last year similarly “secured a trademark for ‘Linsanity’” (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 10/20). YAHOO SPORTS’ Doug Farrar wrote, “From a marketing perspective, we suppose Tebow has a point.” There has been “a flood of Tebowing-related merchandise on the market, and his representatives sent letters of protest after two different companies -- and -- filed patent requests last year” (, 10/20).

NOT WORKING OUT YET: Tebow had just four rushes and no pass attempts in yesterday's game against the Patriots, continuing a trend of Tebow seeing limited playing time this season. Time magazine's Sean Gregory said of the Jets acquiring Tebow during the offseason, “The publicity might have been a part of it, but the Jets attendance isn’t skyrocketing, isn’t off the charts. So it totally hasn’t worked on that end” (“CBS This Morning,” CBS, 10/20).

Ion, a new video camera company and a competitor of GoPro, has signed a handful of snowboarders and skiers to endorsement deals. The company signed agreements with snowboarders Eric Jackson and Eero Ettala, as well as Bronze-medal winning U.S. snowboarder Scotty Lago. It also signed an endorsement deal with freeskier Nick Goepper. Ion is the title sponsor of the December Dew Tour event in Breckenridge, Colo. The company made its debut as a Dew Tour sponsor during last weekend’s competition at the Toyota City Championships in S.F. Its camera was used to shoot some footage of the event and that footage was branded and integrated into broadcasts on NBC and NBC Sports Network. Ion wants to capture 20% of the global action camera business, which sells 8 million units worldwide. Ion Founder, CEO & Managing Dir Giovanni Tomaselli said, “Breckenridge is when people are going to know who we really are.”

In Ireland, Brian Keogh reported speculation has grown that golfer Rory McIlroy "could be in line to sign a massive deal with Nike when his current contract with Titleist/Footjoy expires at the end of the year." The deal "could be worth" up to $250M over 10 years. Tiger Woods remains the "undisputed face of Nike," so it is still to be determined "what will happen next and whether or not McIlroy is being groomed to take over from Woods." Image is "paramount to a sports giant that hit the headlines this week when it terminated its endorsement contract" with cyclist Lance Armstrong (IRISH TIMES, 10/20).

CAR & DRIVER: MSG has announced a long-term extension of its marketing partnership with Kia, making the car company a “signature partner." Kia will be the official vehicle of the namesake arena, the Knicks, Rangers and WNBA Liberty, college basketball, tennis and concerts, and the Theatre at MSG. The deal includes expanded exposure on the MSG Networks and on team websites. In addition, Kia vehicles will be displayed year-round in the arena’s lobby and Kia customers will be eligible for exclusive promotions (Christopher Botta, SportsBusiness Journal).

DADDY DEAREST: With reports that Danica Patrick may not appear in future Go Daddy Super Bowl ads, Speed's Krista Voda asked, “How is this a smart move? She is, other than Dale Earnhardt Jr., the most popular or most talked about, marketable figure in NASCAR.” NASCAR analyst and former NASCAR driver Kyle Petty said Go Daddy “put a lot of money, a lot of time, a lot of effort into that image. If they need to go in a different direction for that company, then that’s what they should do." Petty added, “It’s funny to me that we talk more about Danica again off the racetrack and what she is as a ‘marketing machine’ more so than what we talk about on the racetrack” ("Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain," Speed, 10/21). 

DRESS FOR SUCCESS: In Boston, Tenley Woodman reported GK Elite Leotards last week announced it is coming out with a signature line for Gold Medal-winning U.S. gymnast Aly Raisman. The agreement is the latest endorsement for Raisman, who already has deals with Pandora Jewelry, Got Milk?, Kellogg's, American Girl, Poland Spring and TruMoo. Octagon Managing Dir of Olympic & Action Sports Peter Carlisle, who reps Raisman, said, "The deals she has are unique in that they are not companies that you think of doing deals with athletes. They are companies that tied into her interests off the mat" (BOSTON HERALD, 10/21).