Emirates Airline has signed a $240M (all figures U.S.) deal with EPL club Arsenal that “grants the airline a five-year extension to its shirt partnership with the club,” according to Aarti Nagraj of GULF BUSINESS. The agreement lasts until the end of the ’18-19 season. As part of the partnership, Arsenal’s home venue “will continue to be known as Emirates Stadium” through ‘28. The Emirates logo will “remain on the front of Arsenal’s playing and training kits and the new agreement also contains a number of marketing rights.” The Arsenal soccer school in Dubai, which launched in ‘10 and “has trained around 4,000 students, will also continue” (GULFBUSINESS.com, 11/25). In London, Jeremy Wilson noted the deal is “thought to be the second-largest shirt sponsorship deal in British football” after EPL club Manchester United’s deal with Chevrolet. Arsenal CEO Ivan Gazidis said that Arsenal’s "‘outstanding’ new deal was among the biggest in sports history and predicted that it would propel the club forward as significantly as the move to the Emirates Stadium” in ‘06. Gazidis also “forecast that Arsenal’s self-sustaining strategy ... would put the club ‘at the top of the game five years from now, 10 years from now or 20 years from now.’” Wilson noted Arsenal also is in talks with Nike over its "kit manufacturing deal which expires” in ‘14. A new deal should be worth “in the region of” $160.1M over five years (London TELEGRAPH, 11/24).
CASH TO SPEND: In Belfast, James Olley reported Arsenal “requested that the deal’s payment structure is frontloaded to ensure they have funds to invest in the team as soon as possible.” Arsenal’s cash reserves stand at $112.1M with $48M “retained as a contingency fund should they fail to qualify for the Champions League.” Emirates is “expected to pay in excess of” $48M early next year “in a move that will come too early for the January window but leave the club in a powerful position at the end of the season” (BELFAST TELEGRAPH, 11/24). Gazidis said that the cash injection "will leave the club less reliant on revenue from the stadium, which has resulted in high ticket prices." The GUARDIAN's James Riach reported Gazidis “received a hostile reception at Arsenal's annual general meeting in October, but he is confident" that this deal will allow Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger "to appease those fans craving investment in the first team” (GUARDIAN, 11/24).
HOLDING OFF: The AP's Rob Harris reported Emirates "wants evidence FIFA is eradicating corruption and the scandal-hit organization's public image is improving before renewing its sponsorship." The Dubai-based carrier's $195M, eight-year sponsorship of world football's governing body expires in '14. Emirates Senior VP/Corporate Communications Boutros Boutros said Friday that the airline "has yet to see enough progress since FIFA President Sepp Blatter instigated a reform drive to prevent a repeat of scandals that have damaged the credibility of the organization in recent years" (AP, 11/23).
Northwestern Mutual is taking the brackets that are so often associated with college basketball's March Madness to other NCAA championships. The insurance and financial planner, which became an NCAA corporate partner earlier this year, advertised heavily throughout the year on CBS, Turner and ESPN, but its new bracket challenge for many of the NCAA's Olympic sports represents the company's first promotion. It also marks the first time that an NCAA partner has marketed against the brackets from a non-basketball championship. Northwestern today launched a bracket challenge for the NCAA's volleyball tournaments, and participants will have three days to fill out their brackets at Northwestern's Facebook page and submit them. The winner will receive a $500 gift card to spend at the NCAA's online store ShopNCAASports.com. Northwestern will repeat the brackets challenge for NCAA tournaments in ice hockey, softball, baseball and lacrosse. Northwestern Dir of Brand & Advertising Chad Dern said the company will look at adding women's soccer for next fall. "This really represents an expanding of our offering and something of an experiment in some different areas," Dern said.
GOING IN WITH OLYMPIC SPORTS: While many NCAA partners often talk about activating more heavily against the NCAA's Olympic sports championships, few of them have made significant bets in sports that do not enjoy the visibility of the basketball tournament. "You don't see a lot of partners activating in this sort of way across a lot of the other championships," said Dern, who saw advantages to a program that does not compete with all of the March Madness clutter. Northwestern will still have a strong presence in basketball, but this program gives the company more of an around-the-calendar activation. "We'll see how it goes," Dern said. "It certainly adds a new spin to the brackets challenge, so we'll see how well it moves people over to our Facebook page." Northwestern, which is handling the promotion in-house, will use the challenge as a way to engage clients and prospects on its Facebook page by evaluating the risk associated with their brackets. "And that opens the door to talk to people about how risk tolerance plays into financial planning," Dern said.
GOLF WORLD MONDAY’s Dave Shedloski notes the PGA Tour’s Hyundai Tournament of Champions has “struggled for several years to attract top international players.” Golfers Rory McIlroy and Ernie Els reportedly “won’t be going” to the season opener this year, and Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson have been “long-time Maui no-shows.” Hyundai’s sponsorship “expires with the completion of the 2013 edition, though secondary sponsor SBS is still on the hook for an additional six years.” Shedloski: “What’s a sponsor getting for its money? Good U.S. players but not the full complement of qualifiers” (GOLF WORLD MONDAY, 11/26 issue).
RACE TO THE END: In Denver, Joe Nguyen reported Old Spice has enlisted former NBAer Dikembe Mutombo to star in the company's new online game, "Dikembe Mutombo’s 4½ Weeks to Save the World.” The game, which launched last Monday, features a “new level every week until Dec. 21, or the so-called ‘end date’ of the Mayan calendar.” The game is "totally worth it just from the title sequence alone” (DENVERPOST.com, 11/23).
A PARTY ISN'T COMPLETE WITHOUT...: In Columbia, Andrew Shain noted Univ. of South Carolina mascot Cocky is “no longer confined to the ball fields.” For $100 an hour and $50 for community activities, “anyone can add USC’s mascot to an event.” And Cocky is “in demand,” as South Carolina cheerleading coach Erika Goodwin said that Cocky has “attended 114 events in the year ending June 30, up 30 percent from the previous year.” The South Carolina mascot “has company.” Clemson Assistant AD/Promotion John Seketa said that the Clemson Tiger mascot makes “about 160 appearances a year at $70 for 90 minutes plus mileage” (Columbia STATE, 11/24).