FINDING NEW FACES: Finley is featured in this week’s SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL as part of a feature on NASCAR’s Faces Of The Future. SBJ’s Tripp Mickle notes NASCAR last year “turned responsibility for its brand image over to” Finley. It wants Ogilvy to “develop a campaign that showcases the sport’s edginess and attracts not only new fans, but young new fans.” Finley said, “I think it got a little corporate. This is an edgy-authentic-crazy-heroes-from-an-outlaw brand. You have to serve that back with a younger lens.” He added, “It’s not Justin Bieber or video games. It’s in the millennial sweet spot. Good times. Crazy, exciting fun. It is going to be really amazing stuff” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 2/18 issue).
Marketing and Sponsorship
Oakley and Nike yesterday announced that they "would no longer run ads featuring" South African double-amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius, who is accused of murdering his girlfriend, according to Curry & Kanani of ABCNEWS.com. Oakley Corporate Communications Manager Cheri Quigley in a statement said the company "is suspending its contract" with Pistorius, effective immediately. Nike yesterday also said it "had 'no plans' to use Pistorius in future ad campaigns." Nike already had "pulled an Internet ad showing Pistorius starting to sprint with the caption, 'I am the bullet in the chamber.'" The companies made their announcements shortly after Pistorius' agent, Peet van Zyl, publicly said that he "expected the sponsors to stick with Pistorius through the legal process" (ABCNEWS.com, 2/18). Nike North America Media Relations Manager KeJuan Wilkins "declined to say whether Nike had previously had any plans for Pistorius." The AP's Joshua Freed noted Pistorius' website "still shows other Nike ads, as well as logos from Nike, Oakley and other companies" (AP, 2/18). French boutique Thierry Mugler today announced the "immediate and complete withdrawal of all products featuring Pistorius including its A*men Pure Shot fragrance." The PA reports Thierry Mugler also has "removed all point-of-sale advertising featuring Pistorius, and deleted all references to the athlete from its website." Meanwhile, British Telecom, with whom Pistorius has been involved as a brand ambassador, today issued a statement which read, "Given the ongoing situation we have nothing further to say at this time" (PA, 2/19).
TOUGH TO SPIN THIS: The GLOBE & MAIL's Bruce Dowbiggin writes, "Some will say Pistorius, the Paralympic legend, deserves due process." But this is "marketing, the realm where perception is reality." Dowbiggin: "This isn't a Tiger Woods sexual misconduct. Or Manti Te'o's imaginary girlfriend. This is a brutal domestic murder. You don't spin O.J. Simpson." By "procrastinating on Pistorius, the corporate types are doubling down on their initial bad investment, tying their brand to a horrific domestic incident" (GLOBE & MAIL, 2/19).
BACKLASH FOR NIKE? While Nike has deals with Woods and Eagles QB Michael Vick despite their scandals, PR Consulting Group President & CEO Jim Haggerty said Pistorius' case is "more serious because it involves homicide." Haggerty said Nike should, "at the very least, suspend their relationship until an absolute determination of whether he's guilty is determined." CNN's Ali Velshi asked, "When something like this happens, do you think there's anybody not buying Nike product because of it?" CNN's Christine Romans said, "I really don't. In the case of a company that's tied to an athlete they try to step back very quietly when something like this happens." Romans noted Pistorius was "very well-known in South Africa, not necessarily globally." Nike "has a lot of people they sponsor. I think this quietly goes away and I don't think those sponsorships come back for him" whatever the outcome of his case ("Your Money," CNN, 2/16). SportsCorp President Marc Ganis said that Nike will "have a harder time avoiding societal backlash stemming from a controversial Pistorius ad that proclaims, 'I am the bullet in the chamber.'" He said, "It's going to be used to demonstrate that Nike is tone-deaf. The ad that likely very few people paid attention to before is going to get worldwide attention, and it's an ad that never should have been made in the first place" (BOSTON HERALD, 2/16).
Reebok is kicking off “a new global marketing campaign called ‘Live With Fire’ about the more holistic benefits of exercise,” according to Karl Greenberg of MARKETING DAILY. The effort -- comprising “TV, print, digital and out-of-home media as well as consumer events and activations -- focuses on people who have made major lifestyle changes by getting off the couch and being active with others.” Rather than using the “tried and maybe-not-true method of using cyborg-level athletes whom most of us can only dream of being as proxies for products, Reebok is going more toward the real-people approach.” The campaign “extends its core training and running focus to yoga and dance, partly to appeal more to women.” The company said that there also is “a renewed focus on walking.” Reebok said the new campaign is under the aegis of last year's “The Sport of Fitness Has Arrived.” Reebok Global Brand Marketing Head Yan Martin said, “We’re not featuring the aspirational actions of today’s superstar millionaires in this campaign; we’re celebrating individuals who find purpose by pursuing their passions." The campaign launched last Friday “with a TV advertisement airing on ESPN,” and support will “come through print and digital media elements.” The ad features “yoga expert and Reebok ambassador Tara Stiles, and Josh Bridges, runner-up from the 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games.” The company said that the ad is “peopled with runners, dancers, yoga instructors, and fitness walkers using CrossFit products” (MEDIAPOST.com, 1/15).
EXPECTING A CROWD: In Tulsa, Kelly Bostian wrote since Tulsa and Grand Lake O' the Cherokees "were announced as the 2013 venue people have been saying the 43rd Classic may be the biggest yet." More than 100,000 are "expected to filter through the Bassmaster Classic Outdoors EXPO presented by Dick's Sporting Goods at the Convention Center," and the weigh-in at the BOK Center is "expected to attract capacity crowds, especially Saturday and Sunday." There is no "admission fee; all events are free and open to the public." Brent Chapman, who was named '12 Bassmaster Angler of the Year, said, "This is the farthest north and west it's ever been held. I know I have 10 times the people coming to watch me as I normally do and, not just people coming to watch me, a lot of people are coming from Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa, even Colorado because it's never been this close before" (TULSA WORLD, 2/17).
The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) has "filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in federal court against party promoters, concert promoters, nightclubs and merchandisers, claiming they are using the conference’s name without permission," according to Lyttle & Trenda of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. The suit "demands that promoters stop using the conference’s trademarked name." The CIAA also is "demanding ownership of several websites it believes to be in violation, along with triple the value of any profits derived from unauthorized use of its name." The conference "took the action less than two weeks before its annual men’s and women’s basketball tournaments begin at Time Warner Cable Arena." Its tournament "ranks among Charlotte’s biggest events, drawing tens of thousands of people to the city for a week of basketball, parties, concerts and other events." The suit "comes after many concert and party promoters already have printed brochures and set up websites, advertising their events in the Charlotte area during the tournament." Some sites "remained online Friday" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 2/16).