Several sponsors of South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius "began pulling their advertising today, just hours after police said he would be charged" with the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, according to Starkey & O’Connor of the LONDON TIMES. A billboard poster for South African TV channel M-Net featuring Pistorius’ face was “removed as the satellite broadcaster DSTV said that it was pulling the campaign off the air.” Also, a Nike ad with the line “I am the bullet in the chamber” was “pulled from his official website." He still “appeared, however, clad in Lycra, bearing a British Telecom logo and the Nike tick.” Pistorius’ sponsors now will be “taking stock of their association to a fallen icon.” In addition to M-Net and Nike, Pistorius has deals with BT, Oakley, fashion brand Thierry Mugler and orthopaedic brand Ossur, which makes his prosthetic running blades (TIMES.co.uk, 2/14). Ossur CEO Jon Sigurdsson said, “It is completely premature to discuss or speculate on our business relationship with him.” Meanwhile, a BT spokesperson said, “We are shocked by this terrible, tragic news. We await the outcome of the South African police investigation.” A Nike spokesperson said the company was “saddened by the news, but we have no further comment to make at this stage.” Pistorius’ sponsorship deals “are thought to be worth" $2M a year (REUTERS, 2/14).
Marketing and Sponsorship
adidas yesterday hosted the global launch of Energy Boost, its latest running shoe technology, at a press conference at the Javits Center in N.Y. Boost features new cushioning material created by adidas partner BASF, a chemical company. The new sneakers will be available worldwide through e-commerce, select retailers and adidas Sports Performance stores. adidas America President Patrick Nilsson said, “The key to our marketing plan is to make sure that people try this product on. We believe that once you try it on, it’s going to be sold. It’s a transformational product.” Nilsson declined to comment on the marketing budget for Energy Boost promotion in America. Nilsson: “It will be seen and it will be known by the right people” (Christopher Botta, Staff Writer). In Portland, Allan Brettman notes adidas’ U.S. sales of running shoes “lags behind Asics, Brooks and New Balance,” and it “even trails” adidas-owned Reebok. But adidas execs believe that the Energy Boost running shoe “will be the game-changer the company needs.” The $150 shoes go on sale Nov. 27 “almost exclusively at specialty running stores.” adidas Chair & CEO Herbert Hainer said that if the Energy Boost “expands Adidas' share of the U.S. running market, Adidas America ... will play a key role in making that so.” Company execs said that adidas “plans to add the TPU ‘Boost’ midsole to other shoe styles.” They also “offered a glimpse of another shoe, to be unveiled in August, that features a sole with a series of inch-long, angled rubbery blades.” Meanwhile, Nike is “debuting an innovative running shoe of its own at retailers today.” The Nike Flyknit Lunar1+, featuring “a one-piece woven upper and a Lunarlon sole -- a product innovation that has been credited with $2 billion in annual sales since its introduction five years ago, will retail for $160” (Portland OREGONIAN, 2/14).
Former MLBer Pete Rose, who is banned from baseball for betting on games, has "had his name wiped from the back” of this year’s Topps baseball cards, according to Rob Harris of CHICAGOSIDESPORTS.com. Topps Product Development Dir Clay Luraschi “called the omission of Rose ‘a simple decision’ but declined to elaborate.” When pressed, he “repeated that it was ‘plain and simple’ that Rose’s name should not appear on cards.” Harris noted on the back of each card there is “a little line labeled ‘Career Chase.’” Whether the player is a “living legend or a rookie, there is a sentence indicating how close that player is to reaching one of the game’s big records.” For example, Cubs SS Starlin Castro has 529 hits, "which is -- as Career Chase points out -- a mere 3,727 away from the all-time record of 4,256." Topps' card for Castro “doesn’t say who holds the record.” Every other record “has a name attached, but not where the hits record is concerned” (CHICAGOSIDESPORTS.com, 2/13). MLB VP/Business PR Matt Bourne said, “Since (Rose) is banned from Major League Baseball, we don’t include him on any officially licensed products. This is not a new policy.” USA TODAY’s Scott Boeck notes Rose’s “likeness hasn’t appeared on a Topps card nor has he been referenced on the back of one since 1989.” But it is “how Career Chase is presented that makes it noticeable” (USA TODAY, 2/14). YAHOO SPORTS’ David Brown wrote if "none of the record holders were named on any of the cards,” then nobody "would have noticed” Rose’s omission. Topps “wants to keep its license with MLB, and that’s obviously understandable.” But it “might be taking Rose’s ban a little far” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 2/13).
Bulls G Derrick Rose's interview with USA Today earlier this week where he stated he would not return to action until he is 110% has drawn speculation about whether he is taking his cues from the Bulls or his agents at Wasserman Media Group and adidas. The Chicago Tribune's David Haugh first broached the subject yesterday, and L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke followed up during yesterday's episode of ESPN's "Around The Horn." He asked, "Who’s running this show here? Who’s running his rehab? Is it his PR firm and adidas or is it the Bulls?” Plaschke noted the USA Today interview was "set up by" WMG, which helped negotiate Rose's $260M deal with adidas. The Bulls “are only paying about” $95M to Rose in salary under his current contract, and Plaschke said, “They don’t have as much control over him as the PR people." He added Rose “should be in charge of his own rehab, but it seems like adidas and his media group are running the interviews, are running the spin that’s put on it” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 2/13). The Chicago Tribune's Teddy Greenstein said Rose’s image "took a hit” following the interview, because he “seems like a puppet in some ways now." Greenstein said, "He’s got this group in Los Angeles who are determining who you’re going to speak to and when.” But Comcast SportsNet Chicago’s David Kaplan said, “I still believe that it’s not adidas driving the bus. Yes, they’re paying a lot of money, but in the end the Bulls want the same thing that Derrick wants.” CSN Chicago's Mark Schanowski added, “I don’t see where adidas really benefits from Derrick Rose sitting out an entire season. They’re still trying to move inventory of the latest model of Derrick Rose’s shoe and gear. ... For adidas, they should want Derrick on the floor" (“Chicago Tribune Live,” CSN Chicago, 2/13).
TRYING TO CONTROL THE MESSAGE? The Chicago Tribune's Dan Pompei said it is “interesting” that Rose and his "handlers are trying to control the message." Pompei: "They’re not having him talk to the masses or even talk to local guys who are there every day and know the situation the best. They handpicked one person to interview with.” Greenstein said the media “in this city who play by the rules got screwed.” Schanowski said the USA Today interview was "handled very poorly” because the local Chicago media was “blindsided.” Rose’s image within the media may have taken "a little bit of a hit” ("Chicago Tribune Live," CSN Chicago, 2/13).
IndyCar driver Katherine Legge has "threatened legal action over her termination from Dragon Racing," following the team announcing Sebastian Saavedra "had been hired to drive the No. 6 this IndyCar season," according to Jenna Fryer of the AP. Legge yesterday said that she "had a two-year contract with Dragon and the team stole sponsor TrueCar for Saavedra." The TrueCar sponsorship "allowed Legge to return to IndyCar last season after racing in the European DTM series." She alleged that she "brought the sponsorship to Dragon because team owner Jay Penske ... promised additional sponsorship from Penske Dealerships." But Fryer noted the sponsorship "never materialized." Legge also "alleged her quest for sponsorship was hurt by Penske's arrest in August for allegedly breaking into the Nantucket Yacht Club and later urinating on the boots of a woman who confronted him in the parking lot." Legge said that she was "informed in January she was not going to be back with the team, and has been unable to find another job in IndyCar since." She also said that she "hoped IndyCar intervened on her behalf in the dispute with Dragon and TrueCar" (AP, 2/13). SPEEDTV.com's Marshall Pruett noted a release from Dragon Racing "offered its take on parting ways" with Legge. Exec VP Paul Woolnough said, "Unfortunately our primary sponsor and Dragon Racing have decided it is best for the team to move in a different direction for the upcoming season. We wish Katherine the best in her future racing endeavors." TrueCar Founder & CEO Scott Painter, whose company "serves as the team’s primary sponsor and backed Legge through its ‘Women Empowered’ initiative, confirmed Woolnough’s assertion that a new driver was desired for 2013, yet did not elaborate on the official reason for seeking the change" (SPEEDTV.com, 2/13).
Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course has signed a multiyear sponsorship deal with Monster Beverage Corp. The deal includes signage at the track, and Monster will bring its MonsterFreestyle MX motorcycle team to an event at the track this summer (BIZJOURNALS.com, 2/12)....Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing announced that TranSystems has become an official team partner and associate sponsor of Graham Rahal's No. 15 Izod IndyCar Series car for the '13 and '14 seasons (RLL)....USA Triathlon has inked supplier-level sponsorship agreements with Raceday Transport, SelfGrip Athletic Tape and Virtual Race Bags. The NGB also extended its sponsorship with ROLA bike carriers through this year. Meanwhile, Liberty Mutual has been named the official insurance company partner of USA Water Polo in a deal that runs through the '16 Rio Games (THE DAILY).
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