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Volume 24 No. 116

Marketing and Sponsorship

Long-time F1 sponsor Vodafone will “pull out of the sport at the end of the season after a review of its marketing strategy,” according to Thomas & Blitz of the FINANCIAL TIMES. Sources said that Vodafone has paid as much as $75M annually for a sponsorship package centered "on the McLaren racing team and its current and former British drivers Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton.” Vodafone has “already withdrawn from other global partnerships, instead preferring to use its funds on domestic events that carry greater impact with local customers.” The company said that the decision was “not made on price, with a similar amount expected to be diverted into a new global branding strategy.” A Vodafone spokesperson said that the group would “create a Vodafone-owned marketing platform that would sponsor local events more directly rather than partner with other brands and events.” The company “sponsored Ferrari before tying up" with McLaren in '07, and the team has since won 34 Grand Prix events (FINANCIAL TIMES, 3/14). The PA’s Ian Parkes reports McLaren has "confirmed they will announce what will be only the fifth title sponsor in their history on December 2, but will not disclose beforehand out of respect to Vodafone.” Mexican driver Sergio Perez has joined McLaren and “has a long-term relationship” with Telmex. Telmex is “currently still a sponsor at Sauber,” but is “widely thought of being the likely replacement of Vodafone” (PA, 3/14).

BAD PRESS: In London, Nic Fildes reports Vodafone has been “reconsidering its involvement” with F1 since “bitter acrimony broke out in April over the Bahrain Grand Prix, which went ahead despite a violent uprising in the country in which thousands of anti-government protesters confronted police.” Several corporate sponsors, including Vodafone, “pulled their hospitality plans but could do little to press for the removal of their branding from the cars because of the structure of sponsorship deals.” Vodafone was “particularly sensitive to events during the Arab Spring after it was forced by armed forces to shut down its network in Egypt in January 2011 and send out a text message on behalf of the Mubarak government to ‘confront the traitors and criminals.’” The company became a “lightning rod for criticism by activist groups both within Egypt and in the UK and the prospect of its brand appearing on racing cars during the Bahrain uprising threatened to backfire on the company a year later” (LONDON TIMES, 3/14).

Northwestern Mutual is “more heavily involved” in this year's NCAA men's basketball tournament, its second as an NCAA corporate partner, as the company will be “presenting sponsor of a number of major events around the 75th anniversary of the tournament,” according to Don Walker of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. The commitment includes “presenting sponsor of two of the 75th Celebration Show programs on CBS; a mobile advertising presence on March Madness Live through Turner Sports; presenting sponsor of the First Four games on truTV; and halftime sponsor for the entire women's tournament.” Northwestern Mutual Brand & Advertising Dir Chad Dern said, "It is a marquee sports property that does a great job of reaching our core audience. It's adults 35-54.” The company last week was the “sole advertiser for a special Sports Illustrated issue dedicated to the 75th celebration of the tourney.” Inside the magazine were advertorials with the theme, "Planning for Success." Dern said that the company was “pleased with the feedback it got last year.” Dern: “We learned a lot from what we did last year. We worked with CBS and Turner to create more custom content. Since the beginning of the college season, we had the theme of ‘Planning for Success.’” Walker noted the company on April 5 “will sponsor the Coaches' Huddle, a fundraising event featuring hundreds of the nation's coaches.” The following day in Atlanta, it will host the Northwestern Mutual Road to the Final Four 5K, and “a 4K run to benefit cancer research will be held at the Women's Final Four in New Orleans” (, 3/12).

MAKING THE CROSSOVER:'s Michael Wayland noted Buick during the tournament will tout its “new Encore crossover.” Buick and GMC VP/Marketing Tony DiSalle said that the brand will “have a large presence across all platforms and networks during the tournament, including during the games.” Buick has “already started with ads and promos for ESPN ‘30 For 30’ film series, but the NCAA launch officially starts" Sunday with the film "Survive and Advance." During the telecast, which is “presented by Buick, a new commercial featuring the Encore will make its television debut.” DiSalle said that commercials for “other Buick models, including the new ad featuring Shaquille O'Neal for the Buick LaCrosse, will continue during the NCAA tournament” (, 3/13).

The Univ. of Cincinnati debuted adidas’ new AdiZero jerseys during the second round of the men's Big East Tournament yesterday, and the response on Twitter toward the fashion choice was less than complimentary. Former Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Terence Moore wrote, “Haven't a clue what Cincinnati was thinking by switching to its ‘new’ uniforms in the Big East basketball tournament.”’s Dan Graziano wrote, “I thought conference realignment was the worst thing to happen to college basketball... until I saw these Cincinnati uniforms. Dear god.” The Hartford Courant’s Jeff Jacobs: “Just turned on BE tournament. Don't know what new league will be called, but those Cincy uniforms must be banned before first game.” The N.Y. Daily News’ Ralph Vacchiano: “What the hell are the Cincinnati Bearcats wearing? Did someone spill something on their pants?” The Bakersfield Californian’s Zach Ewing: “I love Championship Week, but those Cincinnati uniforms might be enough to get me to turn off the TV. Those things are HIDEOUS.” NFL Network’s Andrew Siciliano: “Cincinnati's uniforms for the Big East tourney are heinous. Even Maryland thinks they're ugly.” The N.Y. Daily News’ Kevin Armstrong: “Fashion week continues on Seventh Avenue. Cincinnati guard Cashmere Wright donning the Zubaz.” ESPN’s Robert Flores: “If Zubaz pants had a baby with a traffic cone, it would look like these #Cincinnati uniforms.” KSTU-Fox’ Rick Aaron: “Good lord. I just turned on the Cincinnati-Providence game and ESPN is airing a Living Colour concert instead.” The Washington Examiner’s Craig Stouffer: “Goodness, those Cincinnati uniforms. Feel like they're designed by Stefon from Weekend Update.” One lone voice supporting the new apparel was CBS’ Doug Gottlieb, who wrote, “Lotta criticism of Adidas Unis upon release...on TV? Cincinnati's are HOT #Bearcats love them” (, 3/13). ESPN’s Mike Patrick called Cincinnati’s game against Providence yesterday and said in the opening moments of the broadcast, “If you are wondering, these are the Cincinnati Bearcats wearing their camouflage” (ESPN, 3/13).'s Extra Mustard conducted a poll asking people their thoughts on the jerseys. As of press time, more than 75%, or 10,584 respondents, claimed to hate them, while 12.19% (1,702 people) loved them and 12% (1,681 people) did not care either way about them (, 3/13).

IT'S NOT EASY BEING GREEN: Notre Dame also wore the adiZero jerseys last night for their second-round game against Rutgers in Big East Tournament, and ESPN's Sean McDonough said, “The problem is not in your set. That is their warm-up jersey and those are their shorts.” ESPN’s Jay Bilas said, “It looks like somebody had a Shamrock Shake and threw up on them.” McDonough, while laughing, said, “I wish you hadn’t gone there, but you have. So we’re stuck with it.” Later in the first half, McDonough said he was unsure whether adidas “cares that people think they look good." McDonough: "But they are definitely attention-getters. You just wonder what the traditional Notre Dame fan is thinking as he looks at this tonight.” McDonough noted Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said that he is "going to wear these shorts down to his beach house.” ESPN's Bill Raftery: “I hope he can fight” (ESPN2, 3/13). Univ. of Arkansas AD Jeff Long on his Twitter account wrote, "Wow, did anybody see Notre Dame's uniforms last night, talk about breaking from tradition." Bleacher Report's Adam Kramer wrote on his Twitter account, "Notre Dame's uniforms look like a rough draft for an Oregon uniform from someone who sniffed too much glue."

: The AP's Mike Fitzpatrick reported the Notre Dame women's basketball team was tapped to wear special adidas jerseys during the postseason, but it "wasn't thrilled with the new uniforms it debuted at the Big East tournament” on Sunday. The uniforms “featured a camouflage print on the shorts and bright lime green lettering on the top.” Notre Dame wore the new jerseys Sunday but “went back to their regular uniforms for the semifinals and championship game.” Coach Muffet McGraw, who “acknowledged she liked the lime green color, said after the victory that the team would vote on whether it would wear the special uniforms again.” Notre Dame Associate Media Relations Dir Chris Masters said that the team was “contractually obligated to wear the uniforms for one game and then could decide on a game-by-game basis whether to go with them again” (AP, 3/13).

TIME TO HANG TEN: The South Florida men's basketball team was eliminated from the Big East Tournament after losing to Seton Hall in the first round Tuesday, but the Under Armour jerseys it wore drew some attention from observers.'s Jeff Borzello wrote, "Why is South Florida wearing board shorts tonight?" The Newark Star-Ledger's Brendan Prunty wrote, "Oh cool, South Florida is wearing bathing suits designed by Abercrombie & Fitch." But's Eamonn Brennan wrote, "Maybe I’m just too inured to Adidas, Under Armour and Nike committing atrocities in the name of buzz, but USF’s shorts aren’t that bad" (, 3/12).

Carmelo Anthony is "not in the elite class of superstar endorsers" like Heat F LeBron James or Lakers G Kobe Bryant, but since being traded to the Knicks in '11 his "visibility and business has grown," according to Jason Gay of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Anthony's "current relationships include Nike's Jordan Brand, PowerCoco sports drink and the supplement Isotonix Champion Blend Plus." Anthony's manager, Robert Frazier, said that Anthony "just agreed to terms on a deal with Degree deodorant, and he recently became a stakeholder in Haute Time, a luxury publishing company covering timepieces." Anthony said that he is "no longer interested in strict endorsement deals; he prefers partnerships that offer a percentage of ownership." He said, "An endorsement deal -- I just feel like it's a one-off thing. ... After that contract is up, you have no ties with that product. So I go into a deal and say, 'OK, forget the money. Let's be partners.'" Anthony said that his wife, La La Vasquez, is "an ideal advisor." He noted that he and Vasquez "keep their individual businesses separate, but adds that Vasquez encourages him to look beyond the traditional borders of sports." Gay reports Anthony is "among the wave of NBA stars who have prioritized fashion down to idiosyncratic details, migrating away from blankety suits and garish ties to slimmer-fitting Ivy League looks." Melo Enterprises Dir of Operations Asani Swann said that when Anthony was with the Nuggets, he "began making a conscious effort to freshen his look." Part of this was "prompted by the dress code the NBA instituted ..., but part of it was also growing up -- and trying to alter public perception." Swann: "We recognized that Melo had the opportunity as he was changing his look to change how people referred to him" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/14).

FLASH MOB:'s Jessica Golden wrote Heat G Dwyane Wade's portfolio off the court is "reaching all-star status, and includes everything from Gatorade to a shoe deal with the Chinese sportswear company Li-Ning, and his most recent collaboration with Dove Brands in a commercial showing 'real moments' of fatherhood." Wade's Dove ad campaign, "How to Stay in Shape," reveals a "humorous take on his daily routine, shot with his own children." He said, "It was a really cool day. My kids loved it and (we) felt like celebrities." Wade added that it is "important for him to keep his brand authentic" (, 3/13).

Gatorade this week debuted a "new version of a commercial about the popular sports drink’s origins and the many sports superstars that have aligned themselves with the drink over time,” according to Lewis Lazare of the CHICAGO BUSINESS JOURNAL. At the top of the “new 60-second spot, we see some grainy footage of Gatorade being used” by Univ. of Florida football players, where the sports drink was created. The TBWA-created spot titled "The Lightning Bolt" moves on “to show historical footage of other major athletes that have been associated with Gatorade through the years," including Michael Jordan and Broncos QB Peyton Manning. Viewers of the new commercial will note that “modern-day bottles of Gatorade have been inserted into the vintage footage of familiar sports stars in action just to underscore the role the drink has played in their careers” (, 3/13). ADWEEK’s David Gianatasio wrote the “heady concept works best in a pop-culture context.” Gatorade is a “beloved and ubiquitous game-day fixture, itself iconic, sloshing around in small plastic cups and giant buckets, ever ready to drench the winners in sparkling showers of limey-electrolyte glory.” The brand is “synonymous with triumph and superior achievement overall.” That status gives Gatorade “a shared meaning that transcends its sporty origins and helps ads like these appeal to anyone hoping to catch lightning in a bottle” (, 3/13).

Pepsi earlier this week unveiled its Pepsi Max "Test Drive" ad featuring NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon in disguise, and the video has gone "viral overnight," but have "shock ads gone too far," wondered ABC's Lara Spencer. ABC's Nick Watt noted a Pepsi spokesperson "told us a stunt man actually did some of the driving" in the video, though he "refused to say whether 'Steve' is really a car salesman or an actor." The spokesperson did stress that Steve's "reactions are 100 percent genuine."'s Travis Okulski said he "started to suspect on the second viewing" the video may have been staged because there are numerous tire marks on the road indicating "multiple takes" were filmed. He also had a "source on the set" who told him the salesman "was an actor." But Okulski added, "It's still a lot of fun to watch. It's a great ad." Adweek's Emma Bazilian said, "Even if people are talking about it in a negative way, they're still going to be talking about it."  Pepsi previously aired a spot with Cavaliers G Kyrie Irving in disguise as an old man -- "Uncle Drew" -- playing playground basketball, and Watt asked, "Is the viral prank the future of advertising?" Bazilian noted that she "didn't know how much longer you can keep this up for without people realizing that they're being tricked." Spencer added, "Something tells me we'll be seeing more of these" ("GMA," ABC, 3/14). This morning's edition of NBC's "Today" featured the video in its "What's Trending" segment, with NBC's Tamron Hall calling the video a "viral sensation" ("Today," NBC, 3/14). The video currently has more than seven million views (THE DAILY).

EVEN BETTER THAN THE REAL THING: NBC Sports Network’s Dave Briggs said of the video, “You think that’s real for a while. Once it runs for a while and you see the Pepsi Max thing. I think it’s a set-up reminiscent of the Kyrie Irving pick-up basketball video.” SI’s Chris Mannix said, “Great acting in that. … We watched that thing a few times. That looks real." Briggs: "It did look legit” (“The Crossover,” NBCSN, 3/13).'s Lynn Hoppes noted golfer Rickie Fowler has "spent the past two days in New York City filming two commercials for Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts," which will begin airing in April. Fowler said, "We're causing a bit of good distraction because we're filming in the natural setting of the hotel while people are walking around" (, 3/13).

KNOCKED ONE OUT OF THE PARK: ADWEEK's Tim Nudd noted Dick's Sporting Goods has made a "baseball ad for the ages." Ad agency Anomaly Creative Dir Seth Jacobs said, "You see Rory and Tiger out there hitting golf balls into cups from a hundred miles away. And that's cute and entertaining. But it's not what we're interested in." Nudd wrote Dick's is "about real athletes in real sports moments." Everything about the ad, "from the talent to the way it's shot, is meant to feel real and remind the viewer how intense baseball can be." Dir Derek Cianfrance "shot for two nights at Blair Field, a college park in Long Beach, Calif." The spot is "running on cable channels including ESPN, MLB Network and NBC Sports Network, as well as online" (, 3/12).

STRIKING UP A PARTNERSHIP: Pocono Raceway and Strike Ten Entertainment announced a two-year sponsorship deal in which the '13 and '14 August NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races will be renamed the 400. An integrated sponsorship campaign will include traditional marketing, digital and social media as well as event activations. The program will include the "Stop Your Thirst & Start The Race" sweepstakes (Pocono Raceway).

SMART SHOES: Google is developing "internet-connected sneakers that can track a user's every movement and, thanks to in-built speakers, shout encouraging messages in their general direction, or equally critical messages." The "heavily customized" adidas shoes were "unveiled at the SXSW conference" this week in Austin. The shoes are "meant to be a wake-up call for advertisers." They can monitor "physical activity and push that information to a social network, but they could just as easily deliver audio commercials to all of the other runners on a track or members of a gym" (AFP, 3/13).