While Ravens players "continue sorting through endorsement offers, many of them are taking advantage of their heightened popularity with appearances and signings" following the team's win in Super Bowl XLVII, according to Chris Korman of the Baltimore SUN. There is "immediate money to be made in that market, as much as $100,000 for a few hours of the most popular players' time." The market "is searing hot." Glen Burnie, Md.-based Man Cave Memorabilia "averaged a signing about once every six weeks and is tentatively planning one per week -- starting with running back Bernard Pierce on Friday -- for as long as demand supports it." When Timonium, Md.-based Great Moments had WR Jacoby Jones in the store last Sunday, it "took only a day and a half to sell all 300 tickets for the event at $30 apiece." A Ravenous Celebration will "bring together more than 10 players and club officials at the DoubleTree Pikesville for signings" over two days, while a World Champion Victory Party on Feb. 23 will "bring several players to Power Plant Live in downtown Baltimore and give fans the opportunity to buy signatures as well as spend 'one-on-one time with the players.'" But Woodstock, Md.-based Schulte Sports President & CEO Ray Schulte said that Ravens QB Joe Flacco has "never sought publicity and plans to make only a few stops on the autograph tour." He added that Flacco also will "do a private signing ... in which he'll autograph pictures, helmets and footballs to be sold to local and national shops." Korman noted players are "usually paid per item signed, or by the hour." Shops offset that cost by "selling tickets, and also boost their inventory by collecting signed goods from the player to sell at a later date" (Baltimore SUN, 2/16).
Marketing and Sponsorship
Customers who entered Under Armour's new 6,100-square-foot Brand House in the Harbor East area on Saturday had “little choice but to think ‘Baltimore,’” according to Chris Korman of the Baltimore SUN. The shirts displayed at the front of the store “promote Baltimore neighborhoods,” and banners next to the main entrance “honor NFL great Ray Lewis and the Ravens.” Retired swimmer Michael Phelps “adorns the side of the building facing the water.” UA VP/Apparel, Outdoor & Accessories Henry Stafford said that the store also “reflects Under Armour's global ambition.” Its focus on UA’s “underperforming footwear lines and the new lifestyle T-shirts reflecting Baltimore culture break from the retail tradition of selling hardest what sells best.” Stafford said that though UA has “no specific plans to expand the concept to other cities, that is the goal.” He said that Brand House “will complement the retail stores that now sell Under Armour gear while offering fans a way to experience the full spectrum of the company's offerings.” The company is “evolving, and Brand House appears to be at the heart of that change.” Sporting Goods Intelligence Publisher John Horan said, “They’re trying to make their branding more inclusive, to try to resonate with women and around the world.” Korman noted the Brand House staff of "about 25 are mostly experts in specific sports.” Stafford said, “You want to run a marathon, we’ll have someone here who can tell you, from firsthand knowledge, about the gear you’ll need to run a marathon.” Brand House also “will be the first place to showcase -- and eventually sell -- the Armour39 workout monitoring system.” Plans to “build signature retail space” at UA’s HQs across the water from the Harbor East store are “on hold” (Baltimore SUN, 2/16). BLOOMBERG NEWS’ Matt Townsend wrote the new store is “a pitch to the Lululemon crowd.” The outreach to women is “part of efforts to broaden out beyond performance apparel and become the next" Nike or adidas. Stafford said the store will be “a lot more balanced in terms of being exciting for our male consumers as well as our female consumers” (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 2/15).
GETTING READY FOR A BATTLE: CNBC's Maria Bartiromo reported the opening of the store shows that UA execs are "making a renewed push into retail and perhaps taking their battle with Nike to a new level.” CNBC’s Brian Shactman was on-site at the new Baltimore UA store, noting the company is using the store as a “test lab, focusing on women, focusing on shoes and maybe even setting themselves up for international expansion." KKM Financial Founder & CEO Jeff Kilburg said UA is “really hitting the nail on the head with this ‘I Will’ campaign they just launched." Kilburg noted, “Look at the overseas expansion, only 6% of sales come in from overseas. They’re going to grow.” The Seaport Group Equity Strategist Abigail Doolittle said UA has "actually started to reverse its three-year uptrend” which indicates the “buyers are becoming less enthusiastic.” But Doolittle said “When I look at Nike, I see a beautiful uptrend” (“Closing Bell,” CNBC, 2/15).
HOMETOWN DEAL: In Portland, Allan Brettman wrote over the past two decades, Nike built its Oregon HQs "with no financial incentives from Washington County,” but “times appear to be changing.” Ongoing talks between the company, Washington County, Portland and state officials “that began in the middle of last year involve plenty of incentives.” The talks so far have “resulted in Oregon assuring Nike it would be taxed only [on] its sales within the state for the next 30 years.” Portland city officials also “expanded the city's eastside enterprise zone to include property on the west side of the Willamette River in a way that would accommodate a possible Nike construction site.” And Beaverton is “seeking to expand an enterprise zone boundary to include Nike's existing headquarters as well as a company-owned parcel believed to be a possible expansion site.” Nike’s expansion in Oregon will -- as “required under the agreement with the state" -- be valued at a minimum of $150M and must "be completed by 2016 and result in at least 500 full-time jobs” (Portland OREGONIAN, 2/16).
Chevrolet on Saturday at Daytona Int'l Speedway “unveiled its new SS, a performance sedan, with NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Jeff Gordon wheeling it into a temporary show ring in the FanZone,” according to Dinah Voyles Pulver of the Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL. Chevy officials said that it was “their first worldwide debut of a production car at the Speedway.” The car will “be available in showrooms later this fall.” General Motors North America President Mark Reuss said, “We’re putting the stock back in stock car racing.” NASCAR team Owners Rick Hendrick, Chip Ganassi and Richard Childress -- whose teams run Chevy engines -- “were on hand for the announcement, which the car company was also streaming live over the Internet” (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 2/17). ESPN.com’s David Newton noted Chevy “may have pulled out of NASCAR had the governing body not developed the new ‘Gen 6’ car that returns brand identity to the sport.” Hendrick said, "It would have been a good chance. As a matter of fact, I'm sure they might have." He added, "When Mark took over, he said if we're going to be in the sport it needs to be relevant. … Mark pushed the button with NASCAR and I'm glad that he did. It sure paid off." Hendrick: "Mark kind of voiced that, that if we can't be relevant we don't race." Reuss said, "Any really successful motorsports activity has to have a really good technical focus on what you're racing, great personalities that drive it, wonderful people running the teams and the great fan bases will come.” He added, "Once you start losing any one of those things there's dangerous things that happen. To get these fuel injected, to get them looking like cars you can buy again ... and to have people understand what they are and what they represent from a brand and driver standpoint, that's what we were working on" (ESPN.com, 2/16).
THE GREAT UNVEIL: USA TODAY’s Nate Ryan noted GM “used Daytona's infield fan pavilion to unveil the SS.” NASCAR President Mike Helton said, "We can't thank Chevrolet enough for having led the charge on that. Backed us in a corner and said, 'Here's what you guys need to think about doing' and caused us to react ahead of our own schedules. But it worked well." Reuss said that GM “never threatened to leave.” Reuss: "We're committed to this sport; we don't play that way." He added, "We're here for the long haul. We don't use motor sports as an episodical branding and marketing event. This is who we are.” Hendrick said, "That's what our sport has been missing. That tie between the showroom and the car enthusiast that wants to buy a car and drive it to the track that's like the car we're racing." Chevrolet also announced that the SS “will pace the field for all four NASCAR races during Speedweeks" (USATODAY.com, 2/16). Meanwhile, ESPN.com’s Newton wrote the new Gen-6 car “gets a good grade for its first real test.” Gordon said, "You as a driver have more responsibility now about how you are going to drive out there because the cars are going to move around a little bit more'" (ESPN.com, 2/16).