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Volume 24 No. 156

Marketing and Sponsorship

Golfer Rory McIlroy, following a split with equipment maker Acushnet's Titleist brand, risks changing the tools of his trade "when there seems to be no competitive reason to do so,” according to Bob Harig of McIlroy has “played excellent golf the past two years,” and Harig asked, “Does he want to mess with that kind of success?” It is believed McIlroy will sign an equipment deal with Nike, whose designers “would make clubs as near as possible to the specifications that suit McIlroy, but there is a long list of players who suffered through adjustment periods after switching to another manufacturer” (, 10/30).'s Darren Rovell asked, “When the numbers come out, how is the golfing public to believe that McIlroy made the switch because Nike was better?” Nike’s strategy with Tiger Woods was to “announce that the terms of Tiger's deal don't require him to play with a Nike ball or clubs.” That move “worked to some extent, though it backfired slightly when Tiger had trouble with the driver.” Rovell: “Would the same type of clause have to be written into McIlroy's contract? Perhaps.” There also is the "question as to how much Nike will get and what terms the company insists on.” With a player of McIlroy's caliber, it is “usually the whole deal -- head to toe with no other branding” (, 10/30). 

BATTLE OF THE BRANDS: The AP’s Doug Ferguson wrote, "Still to be determined is how any deal with Nike would affect the rest of McIlroy's deals,” including endorsements with Dubai-based Jumeirah Estates, Oakley, watchmaker Audemares Piguet and Spain-based Banco Santander. Nike “typically prefers a clean look for its athletes, with rare exception.” Woods and Anthony Kim had “separate endorsements for their golf bags.” McIlroy's split from Titleist marks “the second time in the last 10 years that Acushnet, which has a history of fiscal prudence, has not stood in the way of a No. 1 player going after big money.” Woods had an equipment deal with Titleist when he turned pro, but "left for the Nike golf ball in 2000 and then the Nike golf clubs in 2002.” Phil Mickelson “won his first Masters with Titleist in 2004,” and the company “let him out of his contract later that summer to sign a lucrative deal with Callaway” (AP, 10/30).'s Rex Hoggard said of Titleist, “They’re a brand company. ... They don’t market the player and I think this kind of dovetails with that, and they’ve done it before." Hoggard: “Nike isn’t about selling equipment at this point in time. They’re an apparel and footwear company, and they're also a philosophical difference from Titleist. Titleist always goes out and sticks with the brand” ("Golf Central," Golf Channel, 10/30).'s Harig wrote Woods has been “the face of Nike golf ever since the company got into the golf business more than a decade ago.” It is “sometimes forgotten that when Woods signed his first deal with Nike in 1996, the company did not even make golf clubs or balls.” The idea of Woods and McIlroy "battling on the back nine of a major -- both with swooshes splashed on TV screens and Internet sites -- has to make Nike officials salivate” (, 10/30).

MISSING IN ACTION: HSBC Group Head of Sponsorship Giles Morgan said he was "disappointed" that McIlroy and Woods are skipping this week's WGC-HSBC Champions tournament. The AP’s Justin Bergman reported McIlroy and Woods “chose to play in a lucrative, head-to-head exhibition event in the Chinese city of Zhengzhou on Monday, a day after competing in tournaments in Shanghai and Malaysia.” Instead of playing in this week's event, McIlroy "is in Bulgaria to watch his girlfriend, Caroline Wozniacki, play in the WTA's Tournament of Champions, while Woods is making a trip to Singapore for corporate commitments.” Morgan said, “If they're in China and there's a World Golf Championship, this would be a good event to be at.” Morgan added that “both golfers apologized to him privately for missing the event” (AP, 10/31). Morgan said, “I feel strongly that the top players should be here. We look forward to seeing them in January at the Abu Dhabi [HSBC Golf] Championship, but I believe that golfers have a responsibility to their sponsors. Without the sponsors there isn’t professional golf. And I speak on behalf of the industry.” In London, Peter Dixon writes, “It seems there are no favours to be had at this level of the game. Woods has been paid millions of dollars by HSBC to play in its events over the years, but this week he is dancing to a different sponsor’s tune” (LONDON TIMES, 10/31).

Texas Tech Univ. on Monday "unveiled its 'Lone Star Pride' uniforms, made by Under Armour, which the team will wear during its game against Texas on Saturday," according to Nick Kosmider of the LUBBOCK AVALANCHE-JOURNAL. The jerseys are "highlighted by blue patches on the shoulders that feature a star of the Texas flag." A strip down the side of the pants reads “Lone Star” with a "Texas-flag-colored star in the middle." The helmet decal "features the school’s Double T logo on top of an outline of the state of Texas." Texas Tech will wear the uniforms only for Saturday's game, and QB Seth Doege said, "I think Under Armour did a good job. I think the guys are excited to wear them." However, Texas Tech S D.J. Johnson said, "Man, I don't know. I guess they're cool uniforms. I'm not really worried about it" (LUBBOCK AVANLACHE-JOURNAL, 10/30). In Dallas, Mike Graham wrote this is a chance for Texas Tech to "really stand out to future players if the uniforms can compliment a win against Texas." If fans have "learned anything in the past five years of recruiting, it’s the fact football uniforms can help sell a program." Texas Tech AD Kirby Hocutt on Monday tweeted that the "fan feedback he has seen has been 90 percent positive." Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said, "With the players, it’s more about the bling on their uniforms and how they look. The shiny helmets, the metallics, all those different types of uniforms. I think it’s good. As a traditionalist, I’m not big on it. Our fans, (a lot like the) traditional black helmet or the uniform that you normally wear. I think one time a year is probably good" (, 10/30).

PICKING AN ALTERNATE: UCLA AD Dan Guerrero on his blog reported the football team for its game against the Univ. of Arizona on Saturday will wear adidas uniforms designed “specifically for our team” and called “LA Night.” The uniform “features dark blue tones in both the jersey and the pants.” Guerrero wrote, “As a Bruin for life, I strongly value UCLA’s traditions, but alternate uniforms in non-traditional colors represent a 21st century trend that, when done tastefully, synchronizes the familiar with the fresh” (UCLA).

Morale Entertainment Foundation today announced a multiyear deal with Walmart that makes the retailer title sponsor for the Carrier Classic college basketball game. The agreement will include a veteran’s appreciation campaign to promote awareness of the event and encourage Americans to thank active duty and veteran military personnel. The campaign will launch this week on Walmart’s Facebook page and will last through Veterans' Day weekend. The campaign also will include an in-store promotion in over 3,000 stores and game-day TV ads. Morale Entertainment will support the campaign with additional social media, TV and radio promotion (Morale Entertainment).

JUNIOR MINTS:’s Ariel Helwani cited sources as saying that UFC fighter Junior dos Santos is “close to signing a deal with Nike, however, the deal isn't finalized and its terms are unknown.” During an interview on last night's episode of "UFC Tonight" on Fuel TV, Dos Santos was seen “wearing a T-shirt with a large Nike logo on it” (, 10/30).

SOUTH FLORIDA BLING: Sunrise Sports & Entertainment and South Florida-based Weston Jewelers announced that they have renewed and increased their marketing partnership for the company to be the official jeweler and watch store of the NHL Panthers, BB&T Center and the venue's Club Red. The deal includes in-arena signage and LED exposure, including Weston remaining as the presenting sponsor for the Rockstar Lounge at BB&T Center. In addition, Weston’s jewelry and watches will be featured in a display case located in Club Red (Panthers).

WELCOME TO THE TEAM: IndyCar team KV Racing yesterday announced that it had signed driver Simona de Silvestro and “will have a two-car operation," along with driver with Tony Kanaan. The AP’s Jenna Fryer noted it will be the “first time de Silvestro will have a teammate in IndyCar, where she has spent the last three seasons driving for single-car team HVM Racing.” She will drive the No. 78 next season “with sponsorship from the Nuclear Clean Air Energy campaign” (AP, 10/30).