Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 24 No. 115

Marketing and Sponsorship

Ohio State Univ. officials on Thursday said that the team of J. America Sportswear and Fanatics Inc. "won the bidding to produce OSU-licensed apparel and to sell it online and in campus retail outlets," according to Steve Wartenberg of the COLUMBUS DISPATCH. The new 10-year deal is "expected to give" the school $9.7M annually, up from the current $4.2M. University officials said that the arrangement "will provide higher-quality merchandise and streamline production of OSU goods." Revenue from apparel sales "will be used to fund scholarships and improve student and alumni services." OSU Senior VP & Special Assistant to the President Jeff Kaplan said that J. America and Fanatics were selected "because their combined bid provided the best revenue stream." Wartenberg notes about 100 licensees "now produce Buckeyes apparel, including headwear, while Nike makes OSU jerseys and varsity athletic apparel under license." Nike will "continue to produce these items and pay" OSU $1M a year. J. America, a current OSU apparel licensee, will "become the sole-source provider for all other apparel under the new contract." The company will "guarantee" OSU a minimum of $8.5M a year in royalties from the sale of school apparel. This will be "a big increase from the current annual royalty income from apparel sales of about" $4M. J. America Exec VP Jeff Radway said that the company also will "establish a design center and showroom on campus that will create 14 jobs with an estimated payroll" of $1.3M annually.  Fanatics will continue to "run the university’s official online store and also will operate the Official Team Shop in the Schottenstein Center as well as handle sales of OSU merchandise at concession stands at university athletic facilities, such as Ohio Stadium." There were "more than 40 bids, but Ohio State whittled them down to three." One other confirmed bidder was Silver Star Merchandising, the licensing arm of the Dallas Cowboys (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 11/16).

Clothing brand Van Heusen is "stepping up its efforts to use a different entry point -- football -- as a way to get young men interested in style," according to Andrew Adam Newman of the N.Y. TIMES. A "broad marketing effort called the Van Heusen Institute of Style" features Pro Football HOFers Steve Young and Jerry Rice, as well as Lions QB Matthew Stafford as "guides to help men make the transition, in the words of the campaign, from 'schlub to swagger.'" The company said that the "average age of a Van Heusen consumer is 39 ... but the campaign is being pitched to younger men from 18 to 34." The Van Heusen website and Facebook page have been "transformed into an extended football metaphor." Fashion spreads featuring the players "are called 'playbooks' and feature gridiron lingo: one featuring fitted shirts is called 'First and Fitted'; another with colorful shirts is called 'Friday Night Brights.'" First introduced in '10, the "newest iteration of the Institute of Style campaign is a collaboration between Van Heusen and Funny or Die, the comedy Web site." On Sunday, during NBC’s “Sunday Night Football,” a 30-second commercial "in the form of a trailer for the video will direct viewers to the Van Heusen Web site." The company declined to reveal "expenditures for the campaign, which also includes print advertising in GQ, Men’s Health and ESPN The Magazine" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/16).

Tigers 3B Miguel Cabrera at the end of '12 season, "armed with all the Triple Crown marketing dollars ahead of him, chose New Balance over at least one other company that offered him more," according to Darren Rovell of New Balance was "prepared to sign the superstar" a year before, but "a well-publicized DUI charge derailed that offer from the conservative New Balance." Despite that deal falling through, Cabrera wore New Balance shoes "for two seasons without a contract." Regarding his new deal, Cabrera said, "This wasn't about the money for me. New Balance really took care of me." New Balance Chair Jim Davis and his wife, Anne, have long "stood form on their stance: Pay small fees to get athletes, mostly runners, to make sure New Balance had a professional presence, but don't put them in any advertising." The company "even boldly made a point of it with campaigns with tag lines like 'Endorsed By No One.'" But by the late '90s, the "effects of taking a moral stance on endorsements were noticeable." That is when New Balance Sports Marketing/Team Sports GM Mark Cavanaugh "came from Nike" to the company and "found he couldn't do a good job without using athletes." Cavanaugh said, "The company realized that we were becoming known as just a running brand or my parents brand and that's not an enviable position for us from a market share standpoint." Today, New Balance is "on the feet of 380 players, roughly 220 of them on active" MLB rosters. Cavanaugh said that "about 30 percent of them are paid some form of cash, about 50 percent get free shoes and a merchandise credit with the company and the other 20 percent just wear the shoes for free with no contract" (, 11/15).

Despite having a large and loyal fan base, World Wrestling Entertainment has long been resigned to the fringes of the sports business world. The company's detractors often labeled it "fake," while supporters presented WWE as scripted programming featuring athleticism. However, during the last decade or so, WWE has gained increased mainstream credibility as a dominant entertainment property. That has allowed WWE to expand the brand's profile, as well as that of its stable of talent, dubbed Superstars. “Since the globalization of the product in the ‘80s, it has gone through a growth period. … Keep in mind we’re only 30 years old as an organization,” said WWE Superstar John Cena. “Turn the clock back to when the NFL was 30 years old and players had to work jobs in the offseason. Turn the clock back to when the NBA was only 30 years old and almost folded.” Cena remains perhaps the company's most recognizable star. He has had endorsement deals with Subway and Gillette, among others. Earlier this year, Cena fulfilled his 300th appearance with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, making him the most-requested personality associated with the organization in its history. He also has a large social media following as the third-most popular North American athlete in terms of Facebook followers, trailing only Basketball HOFer Michael Jordan and Lakers G Kobe Bryant.

BRAND RECOGNITION: In many ways, Cena is the embodiment of what the WWE has become -- a marketing machine with myriad products that appeal to a wide cross section of a global audience. WWE Exec VP/Talent & Live Events Paul Levesque, who also performs under the Superstar name Triple H, said that WWE Superstars are similar to Heat F LeBron James in that people are working to extend James’ brand to that of the NBA and his club. "In what we do, it’s just a little bit different because it seems outside the box,” said Levesque. “Our guys are playing characters on a television show, and then they are their own brand outside of it. Sometimes those brands are the same; sometimes those brands are very different. ... John is kind of different because what you see with John Cena on TV is really what you get with John the person, a lot of it. There’s not a massive disconnect between who he is and the character.” Sculpting that brand is often a 50-50 proposition. Levesque noted some of the WWE Superstars take a hands-off approach in the creative process and allow the company to dictate the character’s direction. Others, like Cena, are very involved in the process. Although Cena said that the key to crafting image is not wavering from your ideals, Levesque points to the star’s personality as the selling point. “John is just a magnetic guy that people are attracted to and want to watch in some way and that helps him.”

GOOD VS. EVIL: The line between “good guys” and “bad guys” within WWE has changed from 30 years ago. Levesque said that society has blurred the line because people recognize that their heroes are flawed. Even Cena, despite his immense popularity, does not always find himself on a crowd’s good side. However, not having WWE Superstars fit cookie-cutter roles has been attractive for potential business partners. Levesque said that some companies want the in-ring persona and others want the real person. “When (WWE Superstar) Mark Henry was in programming last he was a bad guy. He was the ‘World’s Strongest Man’ and an angry giant guy who beat people up,” Levesque said. “But Mark Henry the brand outside the WWE television show … was a big part of our ‘be a STAR’ anti-bullying campaign.” 

GETTING STRONGER: With plenty of opportunities outside of the ring for Superstars, WWE encourages its employees to expand their personal brand. “(WWE Exec Chair & CEO Vince McMahon) has a saying: ‘Whatever is good for WWE is good for everybody else,’ and kind of vice versa. … The bigger star you are within the program, the more that opportunity is going to be there for you,” Levesque said. “It’s all about the fans and what they want to buy into.” Cena described himself as a businessman and said he recognized the need to operate as such when he chose his career path. Now, the success of his personal brand is helping fuel the success of WWE. “We’re now in 600 million homes globally. … We truly are going in so many wonderful directions. Whether it’s my fault or the cause, I’m just happy to be a part of it. That’s truly what I hold near and dear. It’s a joy to be able to a part of this when the company is growing out of control, almost."

The NBA D-League Springfield Armor has signed a presenting sponsorship agreement with MGM Springfield that includes a jersey logo deal. The company’s logo also will be on the court during the team’s home games at the MassMutual Center. Financial terms of the one-year deal were not disclosed. The jersey deal is the fourth in the 16-team D-League. The other teams with jersey deals are Rio Grande Valley (Lone Star National Bank), Erie (Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine) and Texas (Choctaw Casino Resorts). The Armor are a direct affiliate franchise of the Nets (John Lombardo, SportsBusiness Journal).

WINE & DINE: In DC, Sarah Kogod reported steakhouse Ruth’s Chris is “offering a series of prix-fixe dinners at its various locations, complete with Redskins-specific details.” The restaurant announced that it will celebrate the Redskins’ 80th anniversary by offering a 5-course meal with Ruth’s Chris wine that will cost $85. The wine it is referring to “is the Redskins Reserve wine, introduced a few months back.” The featured dessert is listed on the menu as “Chocolate Covered Strawberries served Redskins style” (, 11/15).

THE SUN WILL COME OUT: Sun Sports announced that AT&T U-Verse will be the presenting sponsor for Heat broadcasts this year for the third consecutive season. The net's “Heat Live” pregame show will be sponsored by Papa John’s, while the halftime show is sponsored by Chevrolet and the postgame show presented by Hyundai. In addition, Sun Sports announced South and Vista BMW will sponsor the 25th anniversary entitlement, with JM Lexus presenting Heat Week as part of its full-season sponsorship (Sun Sports).

: AD AGE’s Mallory Russell noted Samsung's ranking this week on the Viral Video Chart marks its “38th appearance and 25th week on the Chart this year.” Samsung's Galaxy Note II campaign this week is “No.1 for a second time, garnering 15 million views last week and 24 million views in all.” Its video, "LeBron's Day," shows how Heat F LeBron James “uses the Galaxy II Note at breakfast with his son, at the barbershop and elsewhere throughout his day” (, 11/15).