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Volume 24 No. 117

Marketing and Sponsorship

MLB Advanced Media has signed a two-year agreement with online daily deals site Groupon, paving the way for a large array of MLB-related offers to appear on the GrouponLive events platform over the '13 and '14 seasons. The league-level pact formalizes and broadens an involvement by Groupon in baseball over the last several years that has been on a club-by-club, ad hoc basis with various teams including the White Sox, Yankees, Nationals, Giants and Rangers, among others, and MLB in July for the All-Star Game FanFest in K.C. While some Groupon baseball offers will be solely discounted tickets, the thrust of the pact is based around package deals that also include amenities such as food-and-beverage credits, merchandise and ballpark tours. GrouponLive GM Greg Rudin said, "We've been working with various teams for a while. But it became evident that we needed to have a focus on a single, league partnership to have this really work and grow and have a consistent merchandising plan." Financial terms were not disclosed, but the pact relies upon a commission-based structure in which Groupon will earn money from completed offers. Individual clubs will retain the option to offer deals or not, and also to use smaller, regional daily deal sites if they so choose. But the MLBAM pact gives Groupon exclusive rights in baseball against its core competitive set, including Living Social. MLBAM Exec VP/Revenue Noah Garden said, "Groupon has a very large audience and a very distinct channel, and we're getting the opportunity to tap into it." He added, "As this space matures, it's not just about 50% off. Sometimes it is just price, sometimes it's access, sometimes it's something exclusive. Sometimes it's all those put together. So we're intrigued to see where this goes."

Heat F LeBron James and the Samsung Galaxy Note II "have been seen together a lot lately on television commercials," which may have "caught the attention of the folks over at Nike," according to Allan Brettman of the Portland OREGONIAN. Nike in February "introduced basketball shoes with electronic sensors that communicate wirelessly with a smart phone." James "demonstrates the shoe's data attributes in a series of videos." But the shoes "communicate with one smart phone only: the Apple iPhone." It also "works with an Apple iPod." Nike "declined to comment about James and the Samsung phone, though one of its websites says the company will 'continue to review other platforms for possible future development.'" Univ. of Pennsylvania Baker Retailing Center Dir Barbara Kahn said that the connection between the Nike basketball shoe, James and the iPhone "may not be as clear to consumers as James and his Samsung phone." She added that companies "choosing a celebrity pitchman with no expertise with their products hope for a simple chain reaction." Kahn: "I like that person, that person likes that stuff, therefore I'll like that stuff, too" (Portland OREGONIAN, 11/29).

YOU LIKE ME, YOU REALLY LIKE ME: James has the top-selling NBA jersey, and CBS Sports Network’s Doug Gottlieb said because of that, James “must be the most-liked player in the NBA.” CBSSN’s Allie LaForce disagreed with that statement, saying buying James' No. 6 jersey is a "safe bet." LaForce: "People buy jerseys because, No. 1, they're going to look good. Number two, they're not going to have to sell their jersey in a year because this player is going to be horrible a year or two from now. It’s a safe bet.” Gottlieb: “You know why he’s the most-liked player? He’s the best and he won, and people want to be associated with a winner.” LaForce: “That doesn’t mean they like him as a person.” Gottlieb: “You don’t know these guys as a person. … People buy jerseys because the team wins and because they're the best. Period, end of story” (“Lead Off,” CBS Sports Network, 11/28).

adidas has "made special uniforms" for next Tuesday's N.C. State-UConn men's basketball game in the Jimmy V Classic, according to Rob Dauster of The jersey is "pretty similar to what NC State’s normal uniform looks like, with two exceptions: there is a net laying around the jersey’s shoulders, and on the back of the jersey, instead of a name, there is the most memorable quote" from late NCSU coach Jim Valvano's famous speech at the '93 ESPY Awards: "Don't Ever Give Up" (, 11/28).'s Jeff Borzello writes the adidas Jimmy V jerseys are "unique and awesome." The netting on the jersey is "very reminiscent of when Valvano cut down the net after winning the national championship and then hung it around his neck" (, 11/28). USA TODAY's Chris Chase wrote under the header, "NC State's New Jim Valvano Uniforms Will Give You Goosebumps" (, 11/28).

The NFL today is helping its house and home licensees display their wares before the upcoming holiday and playoff seasons with an exhibition at a restaurant in midtown Manhattan filled with NFL-licensed products. Displayed will be team-logoed wine glasses, chip and dip sets and cheese boards within what the league is calling “the Ultimate Homegating Lounge." Licensees involved include Boelter Brands, the Memory Company, and Pangea Brands, whose team-logoed toaster helps fans through breakfast by toasting the logo of their favorite teams on bread. Various “homegating personalities” will be exemplified in displays, like the “Couch Defender, Grill Captain, Master of Ceremonies,” and “the Party Ref.”

In Baltimore, Jill Rosen noted local stores "report selling hundreds of shirts with [Ravens RB Ray] Rice's new catchphrase, 'Hey diddle diddle, Ray Rice up the middle' -- and the shirts have only been available for several hours." The catchphrase came during the Chargers-Ravens postgame on Sunday. Down by three and facing a fourth-and-29 at their own 37-yard line, Rice converted a first down. Rice "summed it up as: 'Hey diddle diddle, Rice up the middle.'" On Monday, Rice "posted on Facebook that people were already hounding him for shirts with his saying." Later that day, he said that he "had one created to benefit his foundation." Rice wrote, "All proceeds to benefit my foundation!" and "This will be the only design approved by me!!" (, 11/28).

RECOGNIZABLE RODGERS: In Milwaukee, Don Walker asked if Packers QB Aaron Rodgers has "become better known nationally since he won the NFL's MVP award?" The answer is "yes," according to research from The Marketing Arm. The agency "notes that Rodgers is known by nearly half of all U.S. consumers, which is up from a year ago." Additionally, he "ranks among the top 150 celebrities (out of 3,000 in the DBI database) in several key attributes." He ranks of 18th among all celebrities "under Aspiration" after ranking 67th in that category in August '11. On the "Endorsement scale," Rodgers ranks 42nd after ranking 121st in August '11. On the "Influence" scale, he ranked 53rd in October of this year after being ranked 108th in August '11 (, 11/28).

ROUNDUP: NHL Rangers C Brad Richards was named global ambassador for U.S.-based menswear line, UNTUCKit. In a two-year endorsement deal, Richards will be the face of the brand, which includes serving as a model (UNTUCKit)....The LPGA Walmart NW Arkansas Championship will return to Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Ark., in June '13. The tournament also announced its top two sponsors, Walmart and P&G, have renewed their sponsorship commitments for three more years through '15. P&G is presenting sponsor of the event (Walmart NW Arkansas Championship).