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Volume 24 No. 157

Marketing and Sponsorship

Redskins rookie QB Robert Griffin III's No. 10 jersey "has sold more than any other player's in a single season since the NFL started keeping track six years ago," according to Darren Rovell of ESPN.com. The metric is based on "sales of jerseys on the league's official Internet store, NFLshop.com." While the NFL will not provide specific sales numbers, it did say that Griffin "moved into the top spot by overtaking Brett Favre." Rovell noted what makes Griffin's accomplishment "even more impressive is that the NFL's fiscal year runs from April 1 to March 31, meaning that he has the league's highest-selling jersey with 3½ months to spare." For December, Redskins merchandise sales on Fanatics.com is up 252% compared to the same dates last year, "the highest percentage increase among NFL teams this month." In addition, adidas PR Manager Michael Ehrlich said that the company "has sold out" of the line of socks it started producing for Griffin after signing him to an endorsement deal. The socks "sell at the premium price point of $20 per pair" (ESPN.com, 12/17).

NFLSHOP.COM TOP-SELLING JERSEYS DURING SINGLE SEASON
YEAR
PLAYER
'12
Redskins QB Robert Griffin III
'09
Vikings QB Brett Favre
'09
Jets QB Brett Favre
'12
Broncos QB Peyton Manning
'07
Cowboys QB Tony Romo
 

QUARTERBACK SNEAK: Griffin also passed Broncos QB Peyton Manning to claim the top spot on the NFL’s best-selling jersey list through the month of November. Manning falls to No. 2, followed by Packers QB Aaron Rodgers at No. 3 for all jerseys bought on NFLShop.com from April 1-Nov. 27. QBs make up seven of the top spots, with Giants WR Victor Cruz (No. 7), Steelers S Troy Polamalu (No. 9) and 49ers LB Patrick Willis (No. 10), rounding out the remaining places. Texans DE J.J. Watt (No. 17) and Ravens RB Ray Rice (No. 25) cracked into the top 25, while Raiders RB Darren McFadden and Eagles QB Michael Vick dropped off the list. The Super Bowl-champion Giants continue lead the top 10 for overall team merchandise sales, followed by the Steelers and Cowboys (THE DAILY).

TOP-SELLING PLAYER JERSEYS ON NFLSHOP.COM
FROM APRIL 1-NOV. 27
RK
PLAYER
RK
PLAYER
1
Redskins QB Robert Griffin III
14
Panthers QB Cam Newton
2
Broncos QB Peyton Manning
15
Ravens LB Ray Lewis
3
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers
16
Cowboys LB DeMarcus Ware
4
Giants QB Eli Manning
17
Texans DE J.J. Watt
5
Patriots QB Tom Brady
18
Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch
6
Colts QB Andrew Luck
19
Bears LB Brian Urlacher
7
Giants WR Victor Cruz
20
Cowboys QB Tony Romo
8
Jets QB Tim Tebow
21
Cowboys TE Jason Witten
9
Steelers S Troy Polamalu
22
Lions WR Calvin Johnson
10
49ers LB Patrick Willis
23
49ers RB Frank Gore
11
Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski
24
Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul
12
Saints QB Drew Brees
25
Ravens RB Ray Rice
13
Packers LB Clay Matthews
 
   
 
TOP-SELLING TEAM MERCHANDISE ON NFLSHOP.COM
FROM APRIL 1-NOV. 27
RK
TEAM
RK
TEAM
1
Giants
6
Patriots
2
Steelers
7
Packers
3
Cowboys
8
Bears
4
Broncos
9
Redskins
5
49ers
10
Ravens

Li-Ning yesterday announced a sponsorship deal with the Heat, effective immediately, giving the China-based brand the designation of official partner. The deal is part of a marketing program to support Heat G Dwyane Wade's new signature line of footwear and apparel. Aspects of the partnership include signage at AmericanAirlines Arena and other advertising assets on team properties, such as Heat.com and TV broadcasts on Sun Sports. Li-Ning products will be sold at the arena beginning in '13 (Li-Ning). In Ft. Lauderdale, Craig Davis noted the Li-Ning deal is the “first manifestation” of the Heat's preseason tour of China in October (SUN-SENTINEL.com, 12/17).

AT A LOSS: Meanwhile, the WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Laurie Burkitt cites Li-Ning execs as saying that the company will “record a substantial net loss for the year,” as it attempts a “major turnaround of the struggling Chinese sportswear company.” Li-Ning CEO Jin-Goon Kim said that losses have been “caused primarily from the reset of trade credits, not by company operations.” Li-Ning is “in the midst of a three-year overhaul, aiming to win a bigger slice of sports-apparel sales on its home turf and to improve profitability.” It ordered “excess apparel years ago in anticipation of sportswear shopping sprees by Chinese consumers following the 2008 Beijing Olympics,” and the company has been “struggling since then to clear its shelves" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 12/18). Analysts "expect Li-Ning to report a net loss" of $19.4M this year (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 12/16).

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino near Tulsa will be the presenting sponsor of the Bassmaster Classic in February. The Bassmaster Classic, regarded as the Super Bowl of fishing, is an event owned by Birmingham-based BASS LLC, which sold the one-year deal for its premier event. ESPN2 will televise the '13 Bassmaster Classic, which will be held in Tulsa. Ad units from the network are included in Hard Rock’s deal, as well as promotional rights, signage, brand integration in the logo and graphics on the broadcast. Financial terms of the presenting sponsorship were not available. The Classic last year was without a title sponsor as it transitioned out of ESPN’s ownership into the private ownership of the Birmingham group. The event will move its site from year to year, and each year sales efforts will revolve around “civic pride and will typically target a company located in the area,” said BASS CEO Bruce Akin. Among the promotions that will be included in Hard Rock’s package is a boat, motor and trailer giveaway valued at $50,000. Akin said sponsors in the past typically have been endemic companies, such as boat manufacturers or the makers of fishing equipment, but Hard Rock represents the parent company’s effort to attract more non-endemic sponsors to the fishing event and its accompanying series. The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino near Tulsa is operated by Cherokee Nation Entertainment.

The AFP reported golfer Ryo Ishikawa "lost his major sponsor" when Panasonic announced it would not renew a deal with him next month. The company also said that it would end sponsorship of golf's Asian Tour Panasonic Open after its sixth edition in September '13 as the company is "undertaking various streamlining efforts" to rebuild its business (AFP, 12/13).

SETTING SAIL: In S.F., Eric Young notes the America’s Cup’s major sponsors held a summit last week “to discuss how they will take advantage of their pricey association” with the event. Puma and Louis Vuitton already have said that they “will be selling limited-edition America’s Cup merchandise in their retail stores.” Meanwhile, America’s Cup Athletes, Promotions & PR Dir Tim Jeffery said that the event “expected to finalize at least two more deals before the end of the year” (S.F. BUSINESS TIMES, 12/14 issue).

TAKING THEIR VITAMINS: Nutrition company USANA Health Sciences today announced that it has signed U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association freeskier Grete Eliassen and Nordic combined skiers Billy Demong, Bryan Fletcher and Taylor Fletcher as the company’s newest brand ambassadors (USANA).