Oakley has "sued golfer Rory McIlroy and Nike, saying they breached the world's top-ranked golfer's existing contract" when he signed with Nike, according to Lester Munson of ESPN.com. A lawsuit filed Dec. 10 in federal court in Santa Ana, Calif., alleged that Oakley "tried to use its 'right of first refusal' to match the Nike offer, but McIlroy and his agent, Conor Ridge, ignored the counteroffer, thereby breaching the Oakley-McIlroy contract." Oakley claims in its lawsuit that its "contractual rights for McIlroy's endorsements of its eyewear and performance apparel would be 30 percent of the Nike package." If reports of a $200M deal with Nike "are accurate, then Oakley offered about $60 million to continue its deal with McIlroy." The key to any resolution of the dispute is "in a string of emails between Oakley and Ridge that began in September." As negotiations for a renewal of the Oakley deal seemed to be "falling apart," Oakley VP/Global Sports Marketing Patrick McIlvain "sent an email to Ridge." The e-mail read, "Understood. We are out of the mix. No contract for 2013. Pat Mac." Ridge's Horizon Sports Management called the lawsuit "baseless," and said the golfer "has fulfilled all of his obligations to Oakley." McIlroy and Nike will "assert in court that McIlvain's email was a waiver of Oakley's contractual rights to renew with McIlroy." But McIlroy's agents and lawyers, after the supposed waiver, then "continued to bargain with Oakley and gave it the dollar amounts that Oakley would be required to match" (ESPN.com, 12/14).
Marketing and Sponsorship
MasterCard’s longtime position as a PGA Tour official marketing partner “will continue through 2016, based on a renewal signed with the tour last week,” according to Michael Smith of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The company, which “has been a tour partner since 1995, plans to roll out several new initiatives in 2013.” MasterCard will “continue to display its marks on the PGA Tour’s scoreboards across the course at each tournament, giving it some of the highest visibility available at a tour event.” The additional four years on the partnership aligns the tour partnership with its presenting sponsorship of the Arnold Palmer Invitational, "which was extended earlier this year and also runs through the 2016 season.” It has been presenting sponsor of Palmer’s tournament since ‘04. Industry insiders said that an official marketing partnership like MasterCard’s “goes for $5 million to $7 million a year.” The presenting sponsorship for Palmer’s tournament “is around $8 million, putting MasterCard’s spending on rights fees at $13 million to $15 million a year.” Neither MasterCard nor the tour “would comment on the cost of the rights.” MasterCard’s renewal “ranks among the tour’s biggest sponsorship wins this year because the company is one of the tour’s most prolific advertisers and offers some of the most robust activation among its marketing partners” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 12/17 issue).
The White Sox will provide local youth baseball players with "jerseys and caps that are variations of White Sox uniforms, and each youth team's name will include at least the word ‘Sox,'" according to Rex Huppke of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. The club has created partnerships with Oak Park Youth Baseball & Softball and “similar organizations in Elmhurst, Downers Grove and Elmwood Park" for the upcoming season. Gone are the "uniforms of the Padres and Cardinals -- and even the Cubs -- that adorned Oak Park T-ball players for decades.” Oak Park Youth President Bill Sullivan said that “details of the team names are still being worked out, but he expects some will carry names like ‘White Sox Yellow’ or ‘White Sox Red.’” Sullivan said that he “understands some parents' confusion or frustration with the decision, but he said money the league saves on uniforms will allow it to invest more in everything from field improvement and equipment to scholarships that will offset league fees so more children are able to play.” Sullivan said, "I don't really care if it was the White Sox that approached us or the Cubs, or even if the Colorado Rockies had approached us. It would've been irresponsible of us as a league not to accept this offer.” White Sox Senior VP/Sales & Marketing Brooks Boyer said that the team “recently conducted a study that found youths are receptive to the White Sox brand.” Boyers said, "We scaled really well with kids, and that's a future fan base.” Boyers added of the White Sox-Cubs rivalry, "Some of these league directors will tell us, 'Hey, I'm a Cubs fan,' but what these leagues are looking for is, 'How do I make my league better?' Even the most ardent Cubs fan, if they take a step back, would say this is good for the league and that's all that matters" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 12/16).
Men’s grooming brand Axe will make its Super Bowl debut when it airs a 30-second TV spot during CBS’ Feb. 3 broadcast of the game. The ad, entitled “Lifeguard,” was created by BBH London (Axe). Meanwhile, AD AGE’s E.J. Schultz reports MillerCoors has bought time for spots during the Super Bowl on local TV stations "in the Great Lakes and Southeast regions for a 15-second ad for Redd's Apple Ale, an apple-flavored malt beverage.” The local Super Bowl spots are the “beginning of a major campaign for Redd's, which launches nationally Feb. 1.” MillerCoors is “precluded from making national Super Bowl buys because Anheuser-Busch InBev holds the exclusive beer-advertising rights to the game” (ADAGE.com, 12/17).
WE'VE GOT TO PRAY: In Dallas, Robert Wilonsky noted a lawsuit was filed in federal court on Friday against North Carolina-based ScriptureArt, which produces “a line of Christian clothing worn and endorsed” by Angels LF Josh Hamilton and wife Katie. The line of clothing includes a “Play Hard Pray Harder” T-shirt. The lawsuit claims ScriptureArt and Hamilton are "infringing" on the trademark of Play Hard Pray Harder LLC, which it applied for on Aug. 29. According to the suit, the defendants have been “using the Mark and selling products bearing the Mark without Play Hard Pray Harder LLC authorization” (DALLASNEWS.com, 12/15).
CAP FOR TRADE: In this week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, Terry Lefton notes MLB’s “biggest licensees introduced new products at a recent show in Las Vegas, and one of the main items is a batting practice cap that will be introduced during spring training from on-field cap rights holder New Era.” The new batting practice “'Spring BP’ cap has the silhouette of New Era’s bread and butter 5950 cap, which is worn during games, and adds fabrication with better moisture management.” The new cap will be a “story of secondary and tertiary logos getting exposure on an on-field product” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 12/17 issue).