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Volume 24 No. 155

Marketing and Sponsorship

State Farm on Christmas Day is "introducing an advertising campaign" featuring Clippers G Chris Paul called "Born to Assist," according to Andrew Adam Newman of the N.Y. TIMES. Paul led the NBA in assists in the '07-08 and '08-09 seasons, and State Farm's campaign "promotes its agents as being willing to assist, too.” A new commercial “takes a separated-at-birth approach, opening with a scene from 1985 of Chris Paul in a crib beside his fictional identical twin brother, ‘Cliff.’” A voice-over says, “Despite their dissimilar upbringings, they shared one invaluable trait. They were both born to assist.” The boys are then “played at different ages by a series of actors.” Contemporary footage “shows Chris Paul in his Clippers uniform hustling down a court, while Cliff (now, naturally, played by Paul, in glasses, a fake mustache, an argyle sweater vest and a bow tie), who has become a State Farm agent, assists a woman whose car has been hit and tosses doughnuts to co-workers in a State Farm office.” The commercial, by Translation, N.Y., will debut on Christmas Day, running “widely during NBA games on networks including ESPN and TNT.” Spending for the new campaign is "estimated at $35 million to $40 million." The 30- and 60-second versions of the commercial will run on TV, while 15-second versions "will run online on Web sites including YouTube and” The new campaign will run “concurrently" with commercials featuring Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, who began appearing in spots for the insurer in ‘11. State Farm VP/Marketing Pam El said that advertising to NBA fans “enabled the insurer to highlight its on-the-ground insurance agents to a youthful, diverse group of consumers” (N.Y. TIMES, 12/19).

JetBlue has signed on as Barclays Center’s official domestic airline. Looking to make some noise as the winter travel season kicks off for the holidays, the carrier will commemorate its one-year tie-up with an event tomorrow at its terminal at JFK Int'l Airport. A half court will be erected on which customers can shoot hoops to win Nets and JetBlue tickets. The low seven-figure deal includes LED and courtside signage, and other digital assets with the building and Nets. “They are looking to get a lot of national exposure out of our building, but their positioning as ‘New York’s Hometown Airline' also fits with our Brooklyn story," said Nets & Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark. “They are also going to activate a ton, so that makes us happy." Each Thursday in January, JetBlue will hold a “Bound for Brooklyn” sweepstakes on Barclays Center's Facebook page in which consumers can win JetBlue tickets to or from N.Y. and a pair of tickets to a Barclays Center event. Five winners will be selected each week. Activation plans at air terminals or on planes are to be determined. JetBlue will not be the only airline with rights in the Barclays Center as Russian carrier Aeroflot has been a Nets sponsor since '10. However, JetBlue’s rights are for the team and Aeroflot has no domestic flights in the U.S. JetBlue also has sponsorship deals with the Red Sox, NFL Jets, NHL Panthers, USC, UConn and the Boston Marathon.

OYO Sportstoys has launched its Generation One line of NFL- and NFLPA-licensed building-block figures. OYO President Tom Skripps said that the figures, which are made to resemble individual NFL players and are compatible with other building-block toys such as Legos, are already available at stores and most NFL stadiums. After debuting in late ’11 with MLB-licensed toys, the company’s baseball line has since expanded to include HOF- and MiLB-licensed figures. The Massachusetts-based company was looking to hockey for its next venture until the NHL’s labor issues posed a problem. Skripps said, “We had planned to do the NHL, when all of a sudden it wasn’t such a good idea.” The decision was made in June to pursue a deal with the NFL instead. Skripps said NFL-related children's toys specifically designed for playing purposes represented a "wide open" market. Engine Shop Founding Partner & President Ed Kiernan, who sits on the OYO BOD, helped the company obtain the NFL license in two months. Because the toys represent individual players, the company needed a license from the NFLPA as well, which came through in just two weeks. Skripps said that the company’s experience marketing toys based on individual MLB players helped expedite the licensing process with the NFLPA. Skripps said, “Seeing that a product that was oriented toward the players was what the market wanted made it easier."

SHELF LIFE: Despite a late start -- the NFL season was about halfway through by the time the toys were ready for the market -- the company is working to get the toys in as many locations as possible, including Dick’s Sporting Goods, airport stores and stadiums. Skripps said that getting the toys in store displays is key to the line’s visibility, but the company also uses social media, including Facebook, a blog on the company’s website and YouTube videos featuring the figures. While Skripps conceived of the line as children’s toys, he said about 50% of the company’s business comes from adult collectors and 50% from parents buying for their kids. The growing OYOs NFL line currently features 123 players, with the Patriots and Giants as top sellers to date. The figure of Jets QB Tim Tebow had high expectations but has disappointed sales-wise. Skripps said, “I’ve got a bunch of him sitting on the shelf. You just never know. We were rooting for the Jets.”

The Univ. of Michigan football team and adidas have teamed to create a special jersey for the Jan. 1 Outback Bowl against the Univ. of South Carolina. The jersey will be white with blue across the shoulders and down to the sleeve. A maize block "M" will appear on the left and right sleeves of the jersey, and the player numbers will be maize with a blue outline. The player's last name will appear in blue. The phrase "It's Great To Be A Michigan Wolverine" will be stitched into the inside neck of the jersey. The team will wear adiZero "M" Statement gloves, while UM's helmet will feature the traditional maize wings and a slightly different navy finish (UM). UM AD Dave Brandon said that he would "like to do one special uniform during the regular season and something different for bowl games." He added that several poll results showed that UM's winged helmet is "ranked as the most recognizable in the game." He said changes to the helmet will be "few and far between" (DETROIT NEWS, 12/19). UM S Jordan Kovacs said, "They're pretty unique and pretty special. We like to wear our unique uniforms in big games, special games, and this is a big game for our seniors. It'll be fun. They look good." Brandon prior to football season said that UM would "back off changing the uniform so often ... but conceded it's what the players want" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 12/19). In Ann Arbor, Nick Baumgardner noted UM wore "a total of six different uniform combinations in 2011, and the only alterations it made to the helmet were adding numbers during Big Ten play." This season, the team has "only wore a special uniform once -- against Alabama in the Cowboys Classic" (, 12/18).

SALUTE THE TROOPS: YAHOO SPORTS' Graham Watson noted Rice Univ. has "unveiled a new helmet to salute the Armed Forces" during the Dec. 29 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl against Air Force. The helmets are "similar to the ones the Owls wore as a tribute for 9/11 last year." They feature the school's "R" logo as an American flag and "a Stars and Stripes design running down the middle of the helmet" (, 12/18).

Georgia Tech yesterday announced it has reached an agreement with IMG College to extend its current 14-year multimedia rights partnership through June '21. The agreement includes IMG College's representation and management of game broadcasts and coaches' shows for radio and TV, publications, digital assets, corporate partnerships, stadium and venue signage, game promotions and gameday hospitality. GT is one of eight ACC member institutions that IMG College represents (IMG).

CAR & DRIVER: The Thunder and Kia Motors yesterday announced a new sponsorship that makes Kia the team's official automotive partner. After this season, the deal will become category-exclusive, expanding the relationship with additional displays and promotions. Elements of the deal include the Kia Rewards Zone, branding at Chesapeake Energy Arena, presenting sponsorship of the "Top Stories" section on the team website and in-game features during Thunder TV and radio broadcasts (THE DAILY).

JUMP SERVE: Mizuno USA yesterday announced an extension that will keep the company as the official equipment and apparel supplier for USA Volleyball. The agreement continues a relationship between Mizuno and the U.S. men's and women's national volleyball teams. The agreement expands to include all areas of USA Beach Volleyball for the first time, with the contract remaining in place through '16 to include the Rio de Janeiro Games (Mizuno).

TRADING PAINT: McCall Farms' Margaret Holmes Peanut Patch brand boiled peanuts will be a primary sponsor of Front Row Motorsports' No. 34 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car driven by David Ragan for four races in '13. The South Carolina-based company, which also sponsored Ragan's car in '12, will be his primary sponsor May 11 at Darlington, Aug. 24 at Bristol, Sept. 1 at Atlanta and Oct. 12 at Charlotte (Front Row Motorsports).