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Volume 24 No. 117

Marketing and Sponsorship

Citi is "finalizing an agreement" with the USOC to "return as the official retail bank of Team USA" for the '14 Sochi and '16 Rio Games, according to Tripp Mickle of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The deal, which sources "valued at more than" $15M over four years, "ensures the USOC will retain both of the banking partners it signed prior to" the '12 London Olympics. TD Ameritrade last week announced that it "planned to return as the official brokerage of Team USA" for the '14 and '16 Games. Citi in '11 "signed a unique deal" with both the USOC and NBC. Citi "bought a package that included a Team USA sponsorship and advertising on NBC during the London Games that was valued at more than" $25M. Headed into the Sochi Games, the USOC and NBC "have found it difficult to offer a similar sponsorship and media package." But Citi, like TD Ameritrade, "saw enough value in its USOC partnership to return exclusively as a Team USA sponsor and buy its media separately from NBC prior to the Sochi and Rio Games." Sources said that Citi will "bring back the 'Every Step of the Way' program it developed for the London Games." The marketing program "allowed Americans to use Facebook and Twitter to direct $500,000 to nonprofit sport organizations selected by 13 athletes with Citi endorsement deals." The company is "expected to sign several winter Olympians to promote ahead of the Sochi Games." It also has "held talks with some national governing bodies about sponsoring their teams" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 3/18 issue).

With March Madness “just getting under way, several savvy marketers already are trying to get a digital piece of it without the huge expense of sponsorship or in-game advertising,” according to Bruce Horovitz of USA TODAY. Brands including Pizza Hut, Hormel's Spam and Hooters are “trying to link with the social and cultural buzz of the tournament -- but are carefully stepping around any legal issues by avoiding the use of trademarked terms such as ‘March Madness’ or ‘Final Four’ in their marketing.” Pizza Hut is “offering college basketball fans, who sign up in advance, the chance to win a coupon for a free medium pizza with one topping ($8 value) if all four No. 1 seeds in the tournament advance to the semi-finals in Atlanta.” Hormel's Spam has a YouTube video of "Sir Can A Lot," a character “who runs around screaming that he can't get over ‘the madness of March.'" Hooters is “offering downloadable deals during the tournament that it has dubbed Hooters Hooky basketball coupons” (USA TODAY, 3/18). Meanwhile, NCAA sponsor Domino's Pizza is offering 50% off all pizzas ordered online at regular price. The deal, which is only available through digital ordering channels, includes a code that must be entered at checkout. The promo runs through Sunday (Domino's Pizza).

CHARLES IN CHARGE: CDW has launched an extension of its "People Who Get IT" campaign featuring TNT's Charles Barkley. The campaign is entitled "Winning on the Road" and features an ad that began airing this weekend through radio, print and digital media on top of national TV spots. The TV ads will be shown during college basketball games on CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV. Ogilvy & Mather, Chicago, developed the campaign (CDW).

A BILLION AND COUNTING: USA TODAY’s Horovitz cites data from research firm Kantar Media that shows total TV ad revenue for the NCAA tournament “surpassed $1 billion for the first time” last year. Kantar Media “expects it will only get bigger this year on CBS and TBS broadcasts.” No other league's postseason "has hit" the $1B plateau. Ad prices for the NCAA championship game this year "will hit about" $1.4M per 30-second slot (USA TODAY, 3/18).

Nike and its affiliated brands sponsor 52 of the 68 teams in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, equaling last year's tourney. THE DAILY's annual breakdown of the shoe and apparel brands worn in the tourney shows there are 48 schools that wear Nike shoes, while four teams wear Jordan Brand. Thirteen teams wear adidas shoes, one more than last year. Under Armour, which had four teams in last year’s tournament, has three this year. Russell Athletic supplies the jerseys for three schools, a decline from five last year. Schools in the chart below are listed by region in their seed order. The first round of the NCAA tournament begins tomorrow (THE DAILY).

1) Louisville adidas/adidas 1) Gonzaga Nike/Nike
2) Duke Nike/Nike 2) Ohio State Nike/Nike
3) Michigan State Nike/Nike 3) New Mexico Nike/Nike
4) St. Louis Nike/Nike 4) Kansas State Nike/Nike
5) Oklahoma State Nike/Nike 5) Wisconsin adidas/adidas
6) Memphis Nike/Nike 6) Arizona Nike/Nike
7) Creighton Nike/Nike 7) Notre Dame adidas/adidas
8) Colorado State Nike/Russell 8) Pittsburgh Nike/Nike
9) Missouri Nike/Nike 9) Wichita State Nike/Jordan
10) Cincinnati adidas/adidas 10) Iowa State Nike/Nike
11) Middle Tennessee State Nike/Nike 11) Belmont Nike/Nike
11) St. Mary's adidas/adidas 12) Ole Miss Nike/Nike
12) Oregon Nike/Nike 13) Boise State Nike/Nike
13) New Mexico State adidas/adidas 13) La Salle UA/UA
14) Valparaiso Nike/Nike 14) Harvard Nike/Nike
15) Albany Nike/Nike 15) Iona Nike/Nike
16) North Carolina A&T Nike/Nike 16) Southern Nike/Russell
16) Liberty Nike/Nike    
1) Kansas adidas/adidas 1) Indiana adidas/adidas
2) Georgetown Jordan/Jordan 2) Miami Nike/Nike
3) Florida Nike/Nike 3) Marquette Jordan/Jordan
4) Michigan adidas/adidas 4) Syracuse Nike/Nike
5) Virginia Commonwealth Nike/Nike 5) UNLV Nike/Nike
6) UCLA adidas/adidas 6) Butler Nike/Nike
7) San Diego State Nike/Nike 7) Illinois Nike/Nike
8) North Carolina Jordan/Jordan 8) North Carolina State adidas/adidas
9) Villanova Nike/Nike 9) Temple UA/UA
10) Oklahoma Nike/Nike 10) Colorado Nike/Nike
11) Minnesota Nike/Nike 11) Bucknell adidas/adidas
12) Akron Nike/Nike 12) California Jordan/Jordan
13) South Dakota State UA/UA 13) Montana Nike/Nike
14) Northwestern State adidas/adidas 14) Davidson Nike/Nike
15) Florida Gulf Coast Nike/Nike 15) Pacific Nike/Nike
16) Western Kentucky Nike/Russell 16) LIU-Brooklyn Nike/Nike
    16) James Madison Nike/Nike

ESPN’s John Saunders said college sports' "old-school look began to fade recently," led by Oregon, but this year "we’ve gone over the top.” Baylor "started things with a uniform that looked like five highlighters making jump shots, and this week Cincinnati broke out the two-tone, non-matching red zebra skin." This look "popped up a few places, then Notre Dame ramped-up the ugly.” Saunders said, “If I can’t have lunch before I watch a game, we have a problem” (“The Sports Reporters,” ESPN, 3/17). ESPN’s Digger Phelps said Notre Dame’s uniforms “aren’t even Irish green, but the fact is if you win with them don’t change” (“PTI,” ESPN, 3/15). Notre Dame will play Iowa State in the second round of the NCAA tournament, and while analyzing the matchup, ESPN’s Jay Bilas said, “The biggest problem: if Notre Dame wears those uniforms. ... It could be very disorienting for any team. In a second round matchup, that’s almost unfair for Iowa State. I think the committee should have factored in the ugliness of those uniforms and the effect it can have on an opponent. I think the committee dropped the ball on this one. Do they know what color those uniforms are?” ESPN’s Rece Davis said, “I think you should behave yourself because those uniforms look a lot like Digger’s tie.” Bilas: “That’s right. They’re ugly!” (“Bracketology,” ESPN, 3/17).

ALL PRESS IS GOOD PRESS: ESPN’s J.A. Adande said adidas debuting its adiZero jerseys during the postseason was "not a good idea." Adande: "When you want people to buy your product, it’s not a good idea to have people saying how bad that product looked.” But columnist Kevin Blackistone said, “For someone who spends a lot of time at the University of Maryland, which had its football uniforms talked a lot about last year, made by Under Armour, I can tell you for a fact that it’s big for the school, but it’s bigger for the manufacturer -- in this case adidas” (“Around the Horn,” ESPN, 3/15).

NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon yesterday spoke about the reaction to his recent Pepsi Max viral video and said, “Everywhere I look -- on my Twitter account, Facebook, every place I've been this week running into fans or just people that maybe don’t follow racing -- [they] are going crazy over this video.” Gordon said the video was similar to “some of the fun things that they’ve done in the past like the Uncle Drew video and this is sort of a spinoff of that.” Gordon added, “When we were filming it we certainly hoped it would go viral like this and get this kind of attention” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 3/17). Gordon said of the video, which at presstime had garnered over 25 million views on YouTube, "I have never been a part of anything like this, a viral video that has gone to this level. … I never dreamed that this would (have so many) views and get this much attention." He said that a "stunt driver was used for much of the filming," but that he was "in the car for part of the filming." Gordon added that "some of the salesman's reactions were natural," and that much of what he did "was ad-libbed as far as getting in and out of the car" (, 3/15). 

Electronic Arts is awaiting a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit as to whether it infringed on Jim Brown’s and Sam Keller’s images by using them in video games, but attorneys for the company have pointed the court to a recent court victory for World Wrestling Entertainment in a somewhat similar case. EA filed that full decision with the appeal court late last week, arguing the case proved that EA had the right to use the public images of Brown and Keller. “Emphasizing the public interest in athletes and their accomplishments, the Somerson court granted a motion to dismiss a former professional wrestler’s right of publicity and related claims, which arose from WWE use of his name and likeness on its websites and on a DVD,” EA outside counsel Kelli Sager wrote in a brief for the Ninth Circuit. Douglas Somerson, who went by the ring name "Pretty Boy" Doug Somers, sued WWE, but his case was dismissed on March 7 by a federal court in Georgia. There appears to be at least one critical difference between the cases: WWE did not put Somerson’s image on merchandise. EA uses avatars similar to Brown and Keller in their games. The Ninth Circuit heard oral arguments in November in both the Brown and Keller cases. While the cases are related, Brown and Keller are separately suing EA over using their images in video games without their permission.