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Volume 24 No. 135

Marketing and Sponsorship

The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association is “investing in international media buys in Australia, Brazil and China in hopes of exporting the rodeo brand to grow the sport and bringing more value to its cowboy-theme product,” according to Alan Snel of the LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL. The media buys are “modest in cost -- less than $100,000.” But PRCA Marketing Dir Sara Muirheid said that the buys “indicate that the 7,020-member PRCA is willing to try to reach more fans outside of the United States in hopes of expanding the brand awareness.” Muirheid said that the int'l media buys “will be on TV and radio and in newspapers” during Q2 ‘13. The rodeo association's “global move comes at a time when the PRCA is crafting a new business strategy to showcase the sport's superstars and highlight the personalities” of its athletes. PRCA Commissioner Karl Stressman said, “We need consistency to sell the faces so we need to create superstars.” Stressman said that “taking the pro rodeo's brand international is a sound business decision because the image of the American cowboy has universal appeal.” Snel notes sponsors and competitors “supported the pro rodeo association trying to sell the sport in Australia, Brazil and China” (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 12/13).

The Univ. of Illinois has selected Learfield Sports as the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics exclusive athletics marketing partner and multimedia rights holder for the next 10 years. The move marks the first time the DIA has outsourced its multimedia rights in a comprehensive package. The formal agreement was finalized on Nov. 29 and the partnership already is underway. Learfield also has committed funding to help defray some expenses associated with the future video board and scoreboard enhancements at Memorial Stadium and Assembly Hall. UI is now the eighth Big Ten Conference member to have a partnership with Learfield (Learfield Sports). The school said that the move will "generate an extra $2 million a year." The AP reported Learfield will produce UI sports radio "using the current announcers and handle the school's sports TV shows." The company also will "take over other multimedia activity and Illini sponsorship rights." UI Assistant AD Marty Kaufmann said that the school will "generate an average of about $6 million a year over the next decade on its multimedia and sponsorship rights." That is "compared to the $4 million it made last year" (AP, 12/12).

The Arena Football League and no-contract cell phone company NET10 Wireless yesterday announced a deal making NET10 the AFL's first title partner. The league for the '13 season will be branded as the "NET10 Wireless Arena Football League." The partnership includes a new co-branded logo to be used throughout the upcoming season. Other elements of the deal include event signage, in-game promotion and the "NET10 Wireless Dream Team" (AFL). In San Antonio, James Aldridge wrote, "Imagine how many league broadcasters will struggle to get through that name on live radio or television without tripping over their words." Aldridge: "What happens when the media, tired of cramming such a long name in its reporting, begins to refer to the NET10 League? Won't that create some identity issues for a sport that doesn't need any additional distractions?" AFL officials are "less concerned with those potential problems than they are with the need to generate some additional revenue" (, 12/12).

Former Vibram USA Founder & CEO and Rockport Senior VP/Product & Marketing Tony Post is "launching his own athletic footwear brand," according to Donna Goodison of the BOSTON HERALD. Post's Newton, Mass.-based Topo Athletic will "unveil an ultra-lightweight product line for running and functional training at next month’s Outdoor Retailer trade show in Salt Lake City, in advance of a May retail debut." Post said that the footwear "won’t be minimalist or barefoot shoes like Vibram’s FiveFingers." The line includes "a sock that works together with the shoes as a system." Goodison notes Topo Athletic has "a handful of employees in the Boston area and China, where initial products are being produced." Topo is "backed by Post and $5 million in funding from Palo Alto, Calif.-based Norwest Venture Partners" (BOSTON HERALD, 12/13).

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