The PGA Tour yesterday formally announced that Laurel, Miss.-based Sanderson Farms has agreed to title sponsor this year's event at Annandale Golf Club in Madison, Miss., in July. The former True South Classic will take the name Sanderson Farms Championship. Last year's event was operated with a consortium of local sponsors, which will remain in place for '13 (PGA Tour). Century Club Charities President John Lang, whose non-profit funds the event, said that Sanderson Farms after this year's event has "an option to then strike a three-year sponsorship agreement more typical of PGA Tour events." In Mississippi, Jeff Ayers notes the tournament's future "has been an issue, with sponsorship changes and calendar switches creating uncertainty." Mississippi-based Viking Range Corp "withdrew its sponsorship" after the '11 event, and the '12 tournament "got the go-ahead only after a consortium of sponsors was assembled and the tournament's name was changed to the True South Classic" (Jackson CLARION-LEDGER, 3/12). Sanderson Farms Chair & CEO Joe Sanderson said, "This tournament's been around for more than 40 years. I want to make sure the tournament stays in Mississippi." SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Michael Smith notes most of the "traditional marketing logic for title-sponsoring a PGA Tour event doesn’t really apply to Sanderson Farms, whose target audience is women age 25-65." The decision for Sanderson "was about protecting a valuable asset in his backyard." Sanderson said that the title sponsorship is "easily the largest marketing deal it has ever signed" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 3/11 issue).
YOU CAN BANK ON IT: SBJ's Smith notes EverBank Financial on March 1 announced its presenting sponsorship of the PGA Tour Tampa Bay Championship, which "gave EverBank and the tournament’s organizers all of 13 days to prepare." But when the tournament begins Thursday, "caddie bibs, tee markers and TV-visible signage will carry the EverBank marks." The entrance signage, the mesh around the bleachers and "even the pin flags will all reflect EverBank’s support of the tournament." This is a one-year deal and the PGA Tour, "more than anything, wants EverBank to have a good experience and extend the relationship." Terms of the deal were not available, but presenting sponsorships "run from the low to mid-seven figures" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 3/11 issue). In Tampa, Rodney Page wrote EverBank's involvement this year equates to a "test drive." Bank officials will "spend the week kicking the tires at Innisbrook while tournament officials will bend over backward to impress." A presenting sponsor turning into a title sponsor "has happened before," as Farmers Insurance did it in '10 with the tour's San Diego tournament. But if EverBank does not extend its contract, then Tampa "could be left out in the cold" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 3/9).
Capital One has "already begun to roll out activations and advertisements" around the NCAA men's basketball tournament, and much of it "will be focused digitally," according to Kristi Dosh of ESPN.com. The company, one of three NCAA Corporate Championship partners, will have "six online-only commercials this year to complement its two national television commercials that will be running." All the ads will feature actor Alec Baldwin and TNT's Charles Barkley. Capital One Senior VP/Brand Marketing Marc Mentry said, "So many people consume digital channels, and we always want to be fresh. If they see one or two ads and it’s the same thing on every channel all the time, we know they get burnt out." Dosh noted in addition to the online-only ads, Capital One will "engage fans through social media channels by allowing the team with the most vocal fans to take over Capital One’s own social media accounts." Fans can "use the hashtag #rallycry any time you discuss your team on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube," and the team with the "'loudest and proudest' fans will be featured prominently on Capital One’s social media websites, which will be bathed in that team’s colors." Fans also receive 10% off "select tickets" to tournament games if they "purchase tournament tickets through the NCAA with their Capital One card" (ESPN.com, 3/11).
FATHER FIGURES: AD AGE's Jack Neff reports Dove Men+Care is breaking a new campaign this week called "Real Moments" that are scheduled to run throughout the NCAA tournament and focus on "real-life fatherhood tales" from Heat G Dwyane Wade and ESPN's Jay Bilas. Unilever VP/Marketing for Skincare Rob Candelino said, "We wanted something to show real men in real life." He added what most men in Dove's target demo say "is 'First and foremost, I'm a dad.'" So Unilever is "replacing its three-year-old 'Journey to Comfort' campaign, focused on broader real-life stories of sports figures, with one focused squarely on fatherhood." L.A.-based Davie Brown Entertainment "created the campaign for TV, digital and in-store video." The campaign will "run on CBS and Turner TV networks and CBSSports.com, along with a customized timeline and videos on a content hub celebrating the 75th anniversary of March Madness at NCAA.com" (ADAGE.com, 3/12).
Lowe's is introducing a "new round of advertising to promote home improvement projects in the spring, its prime revenue-generating period," according to Jane Levere of the N.Y. TIMES. The company for the first time will advertise "directly to men, in a spot that was first shown Sunday" during Fox' coverage of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt Tools 400. It will also air during the NCAA men's basketball tournament. The ads were created by BBDO, N.Y. An additional second 60-second TV spot shows "men gathered in a backyard, pretending to be competing in various sports, using home improvement tools like a tape measure and sledgehammer as sports equipment." A voice-over says, “You’ll probably never bat in the ninth inning of game seven, or have to make a shot with 20,000 fans screaming at you, or choreograph an original touchdown dance. But you do have a sport, and every weekend is your chance to take the field." Levere notes digital advertising is "running on Web sites like CBSSports.com, Weather.com and eHow" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/12).
Former Univ. of Michigan QB Denard Robinson will appear on the cover of EA Sports' "NCAA Football 14" after beating former Texas A&M WR Ryan Swope "in an intense final round of Facebook voting" that concluded Friday, according to Kyle Meinke of ANNARBOR.com. Robinson becomes the third former UM player to "grace the cover of the video game," joining Heisman Trophy winners Charles Woodson ('97) and Desmond Howard ('06). An EA Sports spokesperson said that Robinson will "receive no compensation for winning the vote." However, Meinke notes he and the UM brand "certainly stand to benefit from the exposure." UM made a "hard push to land Robinson on the cover, including initiating an intense social media campaign." The announcement of the winner was delayed until today while EA Sports "checked into reports of fraudulent voting practices." EA did "not release the final tally, but did say more than 250,000 votes were cast, and that Robinson received more than half." The final round of voting included some "irregularities" which "amounted to reported voting bots for Swope." Fake Facebook accounts were "being created to pad his total" (ANNARBOR.com, 3/12).
MADDEN MADNESS: The 64 current and former NFLers competing to be on the cover of EA Sports' “Madden NFL 25” were revealed yesterday on ESPN2’s “SportsNation.” The contest features 32 current players and 32 former players. ESPN’s Marcellus Wiley noted the game’s Silver Anniversary and said, “We have a new-school-versus-old-school theme to this year’s vote.” 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick and Pro Football HOFer Jerry Rice helped reveal the brackets, with both appearing in the brackets as No. 1 seeds. ESPN’s Charissa Thompson: “This is more of a popularity contest, so keep that in mind when you guys are voting” (“SportsNation,” ESPN2, 3/11).
The Univ. of South Florida’s men’s basketball uniforms to be worn tonight against Seton Hall in the Big East tournament “are supposed to evoke a South Florida sunset,” according to Chris Chase of USA TODAY. They feature a "retro chic" take on the surfer stripe and showcase a "South Beach environment." The Under Armour uniforms “aren't as audacious as Nike's Oregon football kits, nor as backwards-thinking, wanna-be futuristic" as adidas' sleeved, striped NCAA tournament uniforms. However, the shorts have “horizontal stripes that look like a paint sample from Usain Bolt's interior decorator.” Chase wrote it “shouldn't look good, but it does, particularly on the road jerseys USF will wear at Madison Square Garden” (USATODAY.com, 3/11).
FOLLOWING THE TREND: USA TODAY’s Nicole Auerbach writes college basketball this season has “joined college football on the alternate uniform trend,” but arguably “none is more bold or risk-taking" than the adiZero jerseys that will be worn by several teams during the postseason. The uniforms outside the 18-to-22 age group “have been met with overwhelming negativity -- even beyond the world of sports.” GQ Senior Editor Will Welch said of his first reaction to the uniforms, "They're really outrageous. I think it's fair to say they're kind of gaudy. They're ugly in a sort of gaudy way." Auerbach notes the shorts “don't match the jerseys in some cases, such as with Kansas and UCLA, whose uniforms feature solid blue tops.” Despite the “benefits of an advanced uniform system and the publicity generated, not every Adidas school was on board with this project.” Indiana turned down the adiZero uniforms, a move “lauded by fans of tradition.” Auerbach writes, “Therein lies the point of contention. On one side, tradition. The other, a new, hip style for the generation that can't sit still. Either way, it gives fashion experts and average fans a topic to debate as conference tournaments are played this week” (USA TODAY, 3/12).
In DC, Sarah Kogod wrote Wizards G John Wall's new branding as "JW2" on his website and his social media tag "WALLin" appeared to be "products of Adidas marketing, because of their similarities to fellow Adidas athlete" Redskins QB Robert Griffin III's "RGIII" and #allin tag. However, Nclusive is the "digital agency responsible for Wall's site." Nclusive COO Justin Giangrande said, "The #WallIn campaign was based around the idea that he had actually been injured in the beginning of the year, and ... how do you get across the idea that John's coming back. Our creative team actually came up with that '#WALLin' campaign. It just so happens that I think Adidas is doing something similar and he happens to be an Adidas athlete as well." Giangrande added that the "JW2" concept was "also organic, and not meant to play off of 'RGIII'" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 3/11).
SPIRIT IN THE NIGHT: Belvedere Vodka has struck a sponsorship agreement with the PGA of America to be the organization’s official vodka through '15. Belvedere will own marketing rights to the PGA Championship and other events as part of an integrated marketing program with advertising, social and digital media, country-club viewing parties across the country and in-store promotions. PGA Chief Business Officer Kevin Carter and Belvedere President Charles Gibb announced the new partnership today (Michael Smith, Staff Writer).
KNIGHTS' ARMOR: In Orlando, Paul Tenorio noted the Univ. of Central Florida "worked with Nike to design new football uniforms for the 2013 season." The new uniforms are "based off a template called 'The Beast' and have not been used by any other colleges." The uniforms feature a "shoulder insert, collar and a stripe down the side of the pant leg." The jerseys include "mesh on the front and sides, while the pants will feature a mesh inset side panel for better air flow." The uniforms also have "more spandex, including on the thigh and knee of the pants." They will include "three different jersey and pant colors" in gold, white and black (ORLANDOSENTINEL.com, 3/9).
VOTED MOST POPULAR: Angels VP/Communications Tim Mead said that in 33 years with the club, he has "never witnessed anything like the rush of public attention and outside demand that now engulf" LF Mike Trout. MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez noted endorsement deals with BodyArmor, J&J Snack Foods, Nike and Subway, among others, have "netted Trout an estimated endorsement portfolio of about" $1.5M in '13. In addition, Trout has appeared on 10 publication covers since '12. Mead said the frequency of media requests for Trout is "too many to be handled." He added that he "doesn't even field all of them" (MLB.com, 3/11).