A year after the shoe/apparel company “touted a return of its ad duties to McGarryBowen," Reebok Global Brand Marketing Head Yan Martin said that “effective next year, he will return ad duties to DDB Worldwide," according to Rupal Parekh of AD AGE. The shift is “not taking place sooner partly because McGarryBowen has just completed a campaign for the brand that's expected to begin running in about one month.” McGarryBowen as of spring ’14 “will be replaced and the work will be led by DDB, New York and will include digital, social and broadcast.” Martin said the switch back is “because he predicts that DDB will better execute creative work in step with marketing initiatives and product launches slated for 2014.” Some industry execs said that the agency shift is “partly driven by a desire for a consolidation under Adidas, which works largely with Omnicom agency brands, such as 180 and TBWA.” But Martin insisted that he is “free to make his own decisions.” During the time McGarryBowen worked with Reebok, the brand “ran afoul of the Federal Trade Commission for deceptive marketing claims around its toning shoe.” But that “doesn't seem to have driven Reebok away from the product entirely, and the company has suggested it might continue to pursue the market with a different ad approach” (ADAGE.com, 1/15). AD WEEK’s Andrew McMains noted the N.Y. office of DDB will lead efforts on the account after the lead office the last go-round "was Berlin, where Amir Kassaei, then executive creative director for Germany, was based.” Kassaei now is “worldwide chief creative officer and based in New York.” He said he sees the assignment as an "opportunity to redefine the fitness category." Not affected by the shift were Reebok's “media planning and buying, which remain at Aegis Group's Carat” (ADWEEK.com, 1/15).
OFF-ROADING:FAST COMPANY’s Chuck Salter writes Reebok “hopes its polarizing all-terrain ATV 19+ will make up for recent stumbles.” The shoe, which Reebok bills as the “first all-terrain athletic shoe, evokes a wide-wheeled off-road vehicle -- but also a daredevil, an astronaut, even a clown.” Company execs are “not only prepared for extreme reactions when the shoe launches in February; they’re counting on them.” Launching a polarizing product is Reebok’s “answer to an increasingly crowded marketplace,” as the strategy “worked three years ago with ZigTech.” Reebok Head of Sport Merchandising & Marketing Paul Froio said of criticism toward the product, “Yes, it’s unnerving. However, we succeed when we do things radically different.” Salter writes Reebok “could certainly use a hit.” The company at one point in the ‘80s was the “top U.S. athletic shoemaker; it now ranks fifth, with 4% of the market” (FAST COMPANY, 2/ ’13 issue).
Watkins Glen Int'l yesterday announced Kellogg's Cheez-It brand has signed a multiyear deal for title sponsorship of the track's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race beginning this year. The race will be named the Cheez-It 355 at The Glen. The Kellogg Company has been involved in NASCAR since '91, but this is the company's first race entitlement sponsorship. At the race, Cheez-It also will sponsor Roush Fenway Racing's No. 99 Ford driven by Carl Edwards. The race had been sponsored by snack brand Heluva Good from '09-11 (THE DAILY). Track President Michael Printup said that fans “can expect the product and the characters from the popular TV commercials to have a strong presence at the track on race weekend.” Printup said, “It’s a marketing effort that is applicable to them. They saw what the Glen could bring. Particularly, an oval versus the road course, the signage opportunities and the fan interaction and the quality of the racing is what brought Kellogg to the table” (SYRACUSE.com, 1/15). The deal was done by ISC Partnership Sales Manager Sean Othen. Sources said it gives Kellogg's sponsorships at other Int'l Speedway Corp. tracks, including Richmond and Daytona. The spring Martinsville Speedway race is the only entitlement ISC has left to fill for the '13 Sprint Cup season (Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal).
SCORING BIG: In New York, Chris Gill writes the announcement is “arguably the track’s best catch since re-opening in 1984,” and it gives WGI a “nationally-recognized consumer product for the first time" since '98 when A-B’s Budweiser beer served as title sponsor. The track last year “didn’t have a sponsor for its annual NASCAR visit for the first time since the series returned to the historic road course,” but it now will be sponsored “by a Fortune 500 company.” Printup said, “It’s not just a regional marketing company. Heluva Good was great for us, but it didn’t have that exposure. ... It is beyond critical for us to have that consumer packaging good naming our sport, and naming at The Glen in particular.” He added, “Our goal is the integration of the consumer market and the exposure we want to do locally and regionally is whatever we can do with that box and whatever we can do with our brand -- doing special kiosks at stores, doing end caps at stores.” Gill notes WGI officials met with Kellogg’s “following last year’s NASCAR weekend at The Glen, meeting through a liaison” from parent company ISC (CORNING LEADER, 1/16). Printup said, "It's the first time since the Bud at The Glen we have a consumer product that's available anywhere -- in every corner store, every grocery store, every gas station. I think that's critical for racing and the sport as a whole" (AP, 1/15).
The size of the "shadow” Rory McIlroy has cast over Tiger Woods since the announcement that McIlroy has joined the Nike Golf roster “will be revealed in Abu Dhabi on Sunday should the company’s new signing opt for a red shirt,” according to Kevin Garside of the London INDEPENDENT. Red is the “power colour that Woods made his own during the years of plunder.” Nike issues its clients “four shirts for the week and it is understood that only one player is allowed to make red his Sunday best if Woods is in the field.” But McIlroy “claimed to be ignorant of any stipulation and said that he didn’t care what colour he wore on Sundays.” McIlroy said, “I’ve worn red before. I’m not saying that is the colour I want to play in on the last day. I’d rather just wear something that goes with green” (London INDEPENDENT, 1/16). McIlroy occasionally worn red shirts during the final round of tournaments, notably during last year's PGA Championship, which he won by eight strokes (THE DAILY).
KEEP YOUR FRIENDS CLOSE...: The Nike ad featuring McIlroy and Woods formally debuts today, and the subject of the blossoming friendship between the two was tackled on ESPN's "Around The Horn" yesterday. Columnist Kevin Blackistone said Nike is selling them as friends in the ad, though the Boston Globe's Bob Ryan said Nike is selling them as "blood brothers." Ryan: "What’s interesting about this is it’s Tiger’s first public admission of mortality. He’s acknowledging this kid into the club in a way he never would with Phil, with Duval or Vijay Singh or anybody else who temporarily challenged him in the last 15 years.” ESPN’s J.A. Adande said, “You know better. You know Tiger doesn’t have any friends on the Tour. Who do you see him palling around with, especially now that Mark O’Meara is gone?" (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 1/15). GOLFCHANNEL.com's Rex Hoggard wrote defining their relationship "is not that simple," as when it "comes to the game's alpha and omega no one is exactly sure of the extent of their friendship." With the possible exception of O'Meara and John Cook, Woods "never before in his now 17-year professional career has ... let someone in so publicly." People with "suspicious minds have suggested the Rory-Tiger relationship is born from mutual monetary gain," but that seems "to be an over simplification at best and a gross misunderstanding at worst" (GOLFCHANNEL.com, 1/15).
A TASTE OF HIS OWN MEDICINE: GOLFWEEK's Alistair Tait reported Woods "got a taste of what it's like to be badgered about another player" when he met with the media in advance of this weekend's event in Abu Dhabi. Fifteen of the 20 questions Woods "received from the world's media ... were about McIlroy." Conversely, McIlroy only had to deal with six questions about Woods among the 32 asked (GOLFWEEK.com, 1/15).
ESPN.com’s Bill Speros noted 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick's online and social media presence “has surged this season along with the San Francisco 49ers' success on the field.” Kaepernick this week “will launch his new website: Kaepernick7.com.” X-A-M Sports PR & Marketing Dir Shawn Smith, his agent, said, “We expect to have at least the homepage up sometime in the next day or two." Speros wrote the timing is “nearly perfect,” as the 49ers play the Falcons on Sunday in the NFC Championship Game. But this latest surge in Kaepernick's digital popularity “did not faze his family or his PR and marketing team.” Speros noted Sammy, Kaepernick's pet tortoise, has a Twitter account with more than 1,100 followers. That is "just another way for Kaepernick's team to reach out to fans” (ESPN.com, 1/15).
OUT OF THE COURT: The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER’s Eriq Gardner reported Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall's $1M lawsuit againstHanesbrands “for canceling his lucrative endorsement deal has been cut short.” The parties yesterday “filed a notice of voluntary dismissal after coming to a settlement.” Mendenhall’s contract to endorse Champion sporting gear “was terminated after the outspoken player tweeted about the 9/11 terrorist attacks.” Mendenhall presented his case “as defending the First Amendment right for celebrities to say controversial things” (HOLLYWOODREPORTER.com, 1/15).
ROUNDUP: Pro Football HOFer Marshall Faulk, who is “one of the best celebrity golfers you’ll find on any green, is teaming” with Arnold Palmer to shoot a series of videos for EA Sports’ upcoming “Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14.” The game features Palmer “on the cover and Faulk as a playable character” (ESPN.com, 1/14)….Maverik Lacrosse signed a sponsorship deal with MLL N.Y. Lizards D C.J. Costabile(Maverik).