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Volume 24 No. 116

Marketing and Sponsorship

Nike today unveiled a new TV spot featuring golfers Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods after the announcement that McIlroy had signed a multiyear sponsorship deal with the company. The 60-second ad titled "No Cup is Safe" was created by Wieden & Kennedy and is set to air Jan. 16-21 on ESPN and Golf Channel in the U.S., on TSN in Canada, and on Sky Sports in Europe. Woods and McIlroy in the spot are seen on a driving range taking turns trying to one-up each other by making shots into a variety of different cups (Nike).'s Alan Shipnuck wrote today's announcement was the golf world's "worst-kept secret." The real challenge for McIlroy, who will play a "bag full of Nike clubs, ... may be metaphysical, not technical." The Nike deal "validates, and completes, his transformation from a mere golfer to an international superstar." There already was "pressure to follow up last season's five-victory, player-of-the-year campaign." Now the "spotlight will burn even brighter." An "intriguing question is where this new deal leaves McIlroy on the larger sports landscape." He "certainly now ranks among the most lavishly paid endorsers." Rumors for months had "circulated about the scope of the would-be Nike deal, with the Irish press bandying about the numbers" 10 years and $250M. Industry sources said that last year "two other suitors presented McIlroy with deals in the range of five years and $50 million, but those were dismissed as not even in the right ballpark" (, 1/13).

THE COMPANY'S NEXT GLOBAL ICON: Sports Business Group President David Carter said Nike believes that McIlroy "might be a global icon." Carter: "Nike's not looking at this as a domestic play. They see the global marketing value and they want to resonate around the globe. This is a real important signing for them to grow their business around the world." He added, "McIlroy's body of work suggests he's a low-level risk. He's about as safe a bet as Nike can make, and this puts him in rarefied air." Nike Golf President Cindy Davis said, "Rory is an extraordinary athlete who creates enormous excitement with his on-course performance while, at the same time, connecting with fans everywhere. He is the epitome of a Nike athlete" (, 1/14). In London, Martyn Ziegler writes the Nike deal should "propel McIlroy into Europe's top five sports stars in terms of sponsorship income, behind a couple of Formula One drivers, plus" La Liga club MF Cristiano Ronaldo and FC Barcelona F Lionel Messi. Synergy CEO Tim Crow believes that it is McIlroy's "youth and refreshing approach to golf which make him such an attractive proposition" (, 1/14).

SPARE NO EXPENSE:'s Ryan Lavner notes the Nike-McIlroy partnership was officially announced today in Abu Dhabi during an "elaborate high-tech production that featured a laser show and video montage." When he "finally emerged, walking through a cloud of smoke, he was wearing a gray Nike pullover and white Nike hat" (, 1/14). In a special to THE NATIONAL, Steve Elling reports there were "massive video screens and a rock-show stage" at the announcement, held prior to this week's HSBC Champions tournament. If McIlroy had "walked out for his formal unveiling with a guitar around his neck, it would have fit the splashy vibe" (, 1/14). Golf Channel’s Tom Abbott, who attended the press conference, said, “They don’t do things by halves in this part of the world. Money is not really an obstacle, and Nike is certainly joining that spirit at the moment.” Golf Channel’s Damon Hack said the scene “seems very anti what Rory McIlroy is all about." Hack: "He’s very understated. He doesn’t seem like a guy that likes a lot of the pomp and circumstance.” Abbott: “When the checkbook opens up, you have to change the strategy slightly, and I think Nike probably wants to do it like this” (“Morning Drive,” Golf Channel, 1/14).

Cyclist Lance Armstrong by “finally admitting to the use of performance-enhancing drugs” is following a “calculated plan to rehabilitate his image and pave the way for a comeback in public life,” according to sources cited by Brent Schrotenboer of USA TODAY. Armstrong “hopes his planned confession to Oprah Winfrey today will start a multiyear healing process in which history will end up judging him more favorably because of his work fighting cancer and because he dominated cycling in an era when doping was the norm.” By confessing after years of denials, Armstrong “also hopes to reduce distractions about the controversy" for the Livestrong cancer charity (USA TODAY, 1/14). In a separate piece, Schrotenboer notes Armstrong “does not expect to regain sponsors anytime soon by confessing now.” He also “doesn’t expect to resume his athletic career anytime soon after being banned for life.” He “doesn’t even expect to sign a book deal right away, though there will be offers for that.” N.Y.-based business attorney Brian Socolow said, “He appears to be gambling that the public will ultimately forgive him and he will be able to rehabilitate his image and earning potential.” Schrotenboer notes re-entering the public arena with a confession “could lead to future income opportunities such as book deals, speaking engagements, sponsorships and even competition -- all opportunities that would not be as likely or as successful without an admission” (USA TODAY, 1/14).

LIVESTRONG AND PROSPER: In N.Y., Stephanie Saul writes a front-page piece under the header, “Armstrong’s Business Brand, Bound Tight With His Charity.” An examination of Livestrong “shows the degree to which the charity, Mr. Armstrong’s business interests and those of his associates have long been intertwined.” While Armstrong’s celebrity “fed the charity, the charity also enhanced his marketability.” Interviews and data show that Livestrong also “engaged in some deals that appeared to have benefited him and his associates.” Livestrong CEO Doug Ulman said that the foundation has “reduced its budget by 11 percent for this year but expected many of its donors would remain loyal.” Ulman said, “In the long run, I think the organization is going to be incredibly strong because the cause is so important” (N.Y. TIMES, 1/14). ESPN's Buster Olney wrote on his Twitter feed, "Let's hope that a high-profile figure steps into the vacuum of cancer research/awareness that will be created this week. There clearly is much passion to help folks suffering from cancer, and Livestrong always provided outlet for that. Another may be needed" (, 1/14).

: The AP’s Jim Vertuno reported Armstrong was scheduled to sit down today “for what has been trumpeted as a ‘no-holds barred,’ 90-minute, question-and-answer session” with Winfrey. Winfrey and her crew will “film the interview at Armstrong's home and broadcast it Thursday on the Oprah Winfrey Network.” Armstrong wrote in a text on Saturday, "I told her (Winfrey) to go wherever she wants and I'll answer the questions directly, honestly and candidly. That's all I can say” (AP, 1/13).

The Milk Processor Education Program, known as MilkPEP and funded by the nation’s dairy makers, is "buying a commercial during Super Bowl XLVII," according to Stuart Elliott of the N.Y. TIMES. The 30-second spot is "planned for the second quarter" of the Feb. 3 game on CBS. The commercial will be directed by Peter Berg and will feature actor Dwayne Johnson in a "fanciful look at how far a father will go to make sure his children have milk for their breakfast cereal." The campaign includes the slogan "got milk?" Until now, MilkPEP’s participation in the annual Super Bowl "marketing scrum has consisted of running newspaper ads before or after the game." The decision to buy ad time in the game comes "after a recent acceleration in the decline of consumption of milk, even as sales increase for dairy products like cheese and yogurt." The commercial will be "accompanied by promotions in stores, digital advertising, public relations efforts and a presence in social media" (, 1/11).'s Tim Nudd noted the ad "sounds reminiscent of the recent MilkPEP spot with Salma Hayak in which the actress arrives home from a fancy night out to find she has no milk for the morning -- so, she sets out on a wild goose chase to find some." But the Super Bowl spot will be a "crazier affair." Photos taken last week on the set of the ad "show a lion, muscle men, stilt walkers and clowns" (, 1/11).

GREAT EXPECTATIONS: AD AGE's E.J. Schultz notes Mars will run a Super Bowl ad for the fourth straight year, but rather than "releasing its 30-second M&Ms spot early to create some buzz -- as has been the trend of late" -- the candy maker declined to discuss "even basic elements of the ad -- and has no plans to do so." The ad is from BBDO, N.Y., and will "run in the first quarter." Mars Chocolate North America Chief Consumer Officer Roy Benin said that the spot will be "part of a new campaign debuting next week that uses a new tagline 'Better With M.'" Schultz also reported that the brand will "not be debuting a new M&M character, as it did last year when it introduced Ms. Brown during the Super Bowl" (, 1/11).

SOCIALLY ACCEPTABLE: AD AGE's Cotton Delo writes while social networks have "become an established part of the Super Bowl marketing playbook," they are looking to "command more of fans' attention and maybe a bigger share of TV ad dollars." Lincoln hired NBC's Jimmy Fallon to "help produce its first Super Bowl ad based on tweeted script submissions." Pepsi is "taking to social media to ask fans for pictures of themselves to be part of a commercial to run just before the halftime show; Toyota is asking fans on Twitter to submit a photo to be included in its ad." For the "seventh year, Doritos is holding its 'Crash the Super Bowl' contest in which fans vote on spots created by amateur filmmakers." This year the "voting will occur on Facebook." Twitter Head of Brand Strategy Josh Grau "has high expectations for this Super Bowl based on the availability of ad products that weren't in the market a year ago, like promoted tweets in mobile app users' tweet streams and interest-level targeting" (AD AGE, 1/14 issue).

The Nets and Barclays Center are "suing a Flatbush car service for allegedly reneging on a $4.5 million sponsorship deal," according to Gary Buiso of the N.Y. POST. A lawsuit filed in Manhattan Supreme Court last week showed that other than "cutting one check that bounced ... Pia Car Limo made no other payments." Pia, the Nets and Barclays Center "cemented an agreement in December 2011 -- in exchange for sponsorship fees, Pia was granted exclusive rights, including being crowned the team’s official car service provider for seven years." In return, Pia "was to pony up $353,000 to Barclays and $187,000 to the Nets for the first year, with annual payments increasing by 5 percent over the next six years." But the lawsuit stated that the company "missed its first payments, which were due last April and then dispatched a check for $560,000 in June -- but warned that it couldn’t be cashed for six weeks" (N.Y. POST, 1/13).’s Richard Pagliaro reported tennis player Gael Monfils is “now playing with a Wilson Blade racquet after spending recent years playing with Prince, and he signed a head-to-toe apparel and shoe pact with Asics.” Monfils, who previously wore K-Swiss clothes and shoes, said that Asics’ “long-term commitment at a time when injury-induced inactivity has caused his ranking to fall to No. 99 compelled him to make the move, along with his belief the brand’s shoes can help protect his body from the pounding his explosive style inflicts.” Meanwhile, the retirement of Kim Clijsters “means Fila lost the face of its women’s tennis line, so the iconic brand acted with its signing of 18th-ranked German Julia Goerges, who has spent her pro career wearing Nike” (, 1/13).

MIRROR, MIRROR ON THE COURT: In London, Liv Lee noted tennis player Laura Robson was "offered an unusual distraction" when she appeared on the world's first mirror tennis court created by adidas to promote its first collection of tennis attire by English fashion designer Stella McCartney. Robson was joined by Caroline Wozniacki and Maria Kirilenko at the media event, which was held yesterday in Melbourne (, 1/13). TENNIS GRANDSTAND's Romana Cvitkovic reported adidas' debut of McCartney's apparel line "will be accompanying the launch with a fan competition," which runs through Jan. 27 on adidas' Women's Instagram page. The competition asks fans to capture their adidas tennis look "for a chance to win some of the new kit." The debut of McCartney's collection is "only the first chapter" of the '13 adidas women's campaign to be launched in March (TENNIS GRANDSTAND, 1/11).

OFF-COURT SUCCESS: In Melbourne, Shane Green notes the world's leading tennis players in many cases “earn more off the court than on.” A Forbes report in September included a list of the highest-paid tennis players and their on-and off-court earnings. Out of the top 10, eight “were making more money off the court -- 75 per cent of earnings came from endorsements and appearance money.” Roger Federer according to the list “made $US9.3 million on court, and a staggering $US45 million off court in the year to last July.” Forbes reported Sharapova is “the highest paid” of the women, “winning $US5.1 million on the court, but earning $US27.1 million off it.” Green notes Melbourne in the days leading up to the Australian Open was “buzzing with off-court appearances by the biggest names in the game in pursuit of the lucrative dollars that come with their endorsements.” Sharapova even hosted the Australian launch of her own brand of candy, Sugarpova (Melbourne AGE, 1/14).

YOUR NAME HERE:’s Kristi Dosh noted ATP World Tour players “will have the ability this year to increase the amount of ad space they can sell on their shirts and hats to sponsors.” The new rules, which were first reported by SportsBusiness Journal, allow for a "logo on the side of his headwear, which does not have to be for his apparel or racket company, and two additional spots on the front of his shirt and the back of his shirt by the collar.” Players under the old rules “could sell two 4-inch-by-4-inch patches on his sleeves to companies other than his apparel company, and his headwear could feature only his apparel or racket company." The changes “won’t be in effect at Grand Slam events," but they will be for "61 ATP events and the championship at season’s end" (, 1/12).

BLOOMBERG NEWS’ Sherman & Fixmer reported NBC Sports Group is “sticking with its commitment to be a sponsor of the largest U.S. gun trade show next week.” NBC Sports Group Senior VP/Communications Greg Hughes said that the channel will “remain the 2013 SHOT Show New Product Center Sponsor.” Hughes said that NBCSN has “been a sponsor of the show for ‘several years.’” He added that the channel “airs hunting and fishing shows and participates as a sponsor ‘as part of our commitment to our outdoor-programming block.’” The show will be held from Tuesday-Friday in Las Vegas (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 1/11).

HIGH ROLLERS' ROOM: In Boston, Ira Kantor noted the Celtics and Mohegan Sun "announced a new two-year partnership" that includes the rebranding of "Club Green presented by Mohegan Sun," the team’s free subscription-based e-newsletter. As part of the "re-launch of the e-newsletter," the Celtics and Mohegan Sun will unveil the “Stay and Play Sweepstakes,” which gives fans the chance to win a prize pack of four tickets to the Jan. 27 home game versus the Heat, as well as a two-night stay at Mohegan Sun beginning that night. Mohegan Sun also will offer Club Green subscribers "other sweepstakes opportunities, and special offers for casino visits" (BOSTON HERALD, 1/12).

ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT: The WWE and Post Foods have reached a deal that will see the WWE's John Cena for a limited time replace Fred Flintstone on boxes of Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Pebbles cereal (Post Foods). AD AGE's E.J. Schultz noted the deal marks WWE's "most-significant partnership with a mainstream, family food brand since the organization began seeking such deals in the wake of toning down its act in 2008." WWE "first entered into a deal with Post last year after Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson began teasing Mr. Cena for his brightly colored ring-gear, saying he looked like a 'big, fat bowl of Fruity Pebbles.'" WWE "reached out to Post after it caught on with fans, who began chanting 'Fruity Pebbles' in arenas" (, 1/5).