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Volume 24 No. 158

Marketing and Sponsorship

Nike’s “exuberance over Tiger Woods rising again to No. 1 in the world is understandable,” but its choice of “a celebratory quotation, however, leaves a lot to be desired,” according to Lynn Zinser of the N.Y. TIMES. Woods' quote that Nike “chose to emblazon over a photo” of him lining up a putt is “Winning takes care of everything.” It is something Woods “often uses when asked about his ranking and other such golf-related matters.” In context, it is a “perfectly acceptable thing to say.” He “never used it when being asked about his flotilla of reported mistresses,” but that is the “kind of context it takes on when your major sponsor splashes it over your face in an advertisement with no other words or mitigating sentiments.” Nike Golf Global PR Manager Beth Gast in a statement said, “When asked about his goals such as getting back to No. 1, he has said consistently winning is the way to get there. The statement references that sentiment and is a salute to his athletic performance.” But Zinser wrote the “problem is, the ad doesn’t come with that context,” and the sentiment “rubs a lot of people the wrong way” (, 3/26). CNBC’s Suze Orman said the ad was a “very, very large mistake." Orman: "Like many of these large corporations, they don’t think about something. They just go ahead and they do it and they slap it up." She does not believe Woods personally had "a lot do with that by any means," but Nike was "very silly that they did that” (“Piers Morgan Tonight,” CNN, 3/26). HLN’s Jane Velez-Mitchell said the ad is "not humble” and it “sounds like more bragging” (“Showbiz Tonight,” HLN, 3/26). CBS Sports Network’s Doug Gottlieb: “It’s not the right message. People don’t want to hear it. It’s not the right narrative for his comeback” ("Lead Off," CBS Sports Network, 3/26). 

: Sports Business Group President David Carter said, “For some people, this will be seen as another case of an athlete who doesn't understand how a big part of society views what he's done." Univ. of Oregon Warsaw Sports Marketing Center Dir Paul Swangard said, "This ad is certainly very Nike. Things are falling together, and he has new stability off the course. But some have still written him off as yesterday's hero" (USA TODAY, 3/27). N.Y.-based branding firm Landor Associates Managing Dir Allen Adamson said that the ad “signals that Nike believes it is time Woods … is back in the spotlight.” Adamson: "They're looking at this and saying, 'Time has passed, he's winning again, it's time to turn up the volume on our association.' But it's risky when you associate with a celebrity only based on winning or losing." Marketing consultant Laura Ries was “more positive on the move.” She said, "The reality is what he said is true. Whether or not they should have said it in an ad is another story" (AP, 3/26). AD AGE’s Michael McCarthy noted crisis PR expert Mike Paul “thinks it's dangerous and ‘brazen’ for Woods and Nike to risk a backlash from fans and media at a time when both their brand reputations are rebounding.” Paul: "This could get fans fired up. Woods is better than that. Nike is better than that. … Every human being who has a heart, as well as a head, understands that's its always about more than just winning” (, 3/26).

OUT OF THE WOODS? MARKETING WEEK’s Sebastian Joseph cited sponsorship experts as saying that Woods’ return to No. 1 in the world rankings for the first time since ‘10 is “a ‘milestone’ in the push to rehabilitate his tainted brand but it is not enough alone to tempt sponsors into backing him once again.” Industry experts said that Woods’ “reluctance to get carried away” with his win this past weekend at the Arnold Palmer Invitational is “likely to be reflected by potential backers who will wait to see whether he wins next month’s Masters tournament before making a move.” Synergy Sponsorship Deputy Managing Dir Dom Curran: “It will take corporate America sometime to get over the scandal of three years ago. A lot of brands got burned as a result so I don’t think they’ll jump in with Woods anytime soon. There’s no doubt him moving back to world number one is a milestone in his brand rehabilitation but it will influence the more consumer-facing brands than the corporate ones who can bring more humour and humanity to his brand now he’s back on top” (, 3/26).

THE ROAR OF TIGER: In Charlotte, Scott Fowler writes the golf world is “a more interesting place with Woods as king of the hill again.” His golf game “is back, and this makes his sport a lot cooler,” as he “boosts golf when he’s playing well the way that no one else can.” Woods at No.1 “just feels right.” When Luke Donald, Martin Kaymer or Lee Westwood are “at the top of that list, it just doesn’t seem as important” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 3/27).

A two-minute promo for EA Sports’ “Tiger Woods PGA Tour 14: The Rumble” videogame began airing online this week, and the promo features cover athletes Tiger Woods and Arnold Palmer walking into an airplane hangar about to board a private helicopter when they are stopped by a group of threatening-looking men. Palmer and Woods proceed to fight off the five would-be thieves. The fight continues until all of the attackers were down on the ground writhing in pain. But before they can leave, Woods and Palmer are confronted by one more large, intimidating fighter. Palmer delivers several blows to the mid-section of the large fighter but he is unfazed, grabbing Palmer’s fist before he can deliver a blow to the face. At this moment, Lee Trevino rappels in on a zip-line and lands behind the large fighter, who swings but misses because Trevino dropped down into a split and struck the fighter several times in the knee. The promo ends with theme music and graphics similar to “Ocean’s 11” along with the videogame’s player avatars and the announcer saying, “The greatest golfers of all-time aren’t going down without a fight. Take on the legends. If you dare.” Golf Channel’s Kelly Tilghman said of the promo, “That is nothing short of awesome. Tiger going all Jackie Chan, Arnold Palmer as Chris Tucker, that is right out of ‘Rush Hour’” (“Morning Drive,” Golf Channel, 3/26).

TEACH AN OLD DOG NEW TRICKS: The INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS TIMES' Tom Barrabi wrote the new spot is “all about" Palmer, who at 83 is “remarkably spry for a man entering his twilight years, demonstrating the fighting skills of a much younger man.” EA Sports “must see a connection between golf and martial arts.” This is the “second straight year that the company’s ‘Tiger Woods PGA Tour’ franchise has been matched with a fighting theme.” Woods last year “faced off against” former NBAer Shaquille O’Neal in the game’s “Duel of the Masters” commercial (, 3/25). GOLFWEEK’s Nick Masuda wrote the part of the game that leaves him “the most impressed is how the franchise has changed over time.” In the first few years, it was “just a golf video game” that was “cool to play, but you could shoot 46 and not really learn much about the game.” Now users “can play all four majors, play Augusta National, learn about the game's heroes, have a bit of fun playing in conditions that are normally reserved for pros and it actually takes work to break par” (, 3/26). 

Gatorade today is debuting a new TV spot starring Thunder F Kevin Durant and Heat G Dwyane Wade. In the ad, titled “Fixation,” Durant has a late-game drive to the basket blocked by Wade. Durant then wakes up in a panic, realizing the play was a dream, and immediately starts training to ensure that such a play will not happen in real life. Durant then re-visualizes the play and this time dunks for the score. This causes Wade to wake up in the same panicked fashion, as though he had dreamed the second outcome. The spot closes with the brand's "Win From Within" slogan shown on-screen (THE DAILY). AD AGE's Natalie Zmuda notes Gatorade is launching two campaigns in March, "shifting how it approaches marketing for the G Series line and recommitting to athletic camps and locker room and sideline programs." In addition to "Fixation," the brand's "Lightning Bolt" spot debuted earlier this month and "focuses on the brand's history." Gatorade VP/Player Management Morgan Flatley said that the "overall media weight and marketing spend will be in line with a year ago." Data from Kantar Media shows that Gatorade spent $101M on "measured media" in '12 (AD AGE, 3/25 issue).

Two former Valparaiso Univ. basketball players who appear in an Axe deodorant ad running during March Madness agree that their "compensation for the ad was too low,” according to Sean Gregory of The spot “features one of the most iconic moments in March Madness history: Bryce Drew, of Valparaiso, sinking a buzzer-beating three pointer to beat Ole Miss in the first round of the 1998 NCAA Tournament,” followed by cheerleaders flocking to an astronaut who appears on the court. Three former Valparaiso players -- who were each paid $500 -- “had starring roles in that clip: Jamie Sykes, who threw an on-the-money inbound pass,” as well as teammate William Jenkins, who “in one motion leapt in the air, caught Sykes’ pass, and threw it to a streaking Drew, and of course Drew, who made what in some circles is simply called ‘the shot.’” The three players in effect are “serving as deodorant pitchmen.” Sykes said, “Finally, it’s nice that somebody recognized that we should get something. But it’s not enough. Without question, somebody is benefiting from this other than us.” Jenkins said, “The compensation, as low as it was, it’s nice to get something. But after seeing how many times it’s played, I’m like, ‘come on now.’” Both Jenkins and Sykes said that they have “yet to receive the $500.” Gregory notes the players through a marketing firm “were asked for permission to use their likeness, and the players signed off on the deal.” An NCAA spokesperson “would not disclose the licensing fee it received from Unilever.” Gregory notes if the Ed O’Bannon class action lawsuit against the NCAA prevails, players like Sykes and Jenkins “might see much bigger paychecks” in the future (, 3/27).

As Wichita State and Kansas are prepping for their Sweet 16 matchups in the NCAA Tournament, fans are "looking to don their team’s colors in support, and local retailers are responding to the demand," according to Kelsey Ryan of the WICHITA EAGLE. Wichita-based Tad's Locker Room Owner Tad Snarenberger said that his store has "sold 20 boxes -- 100 shirts a box -- just of Wichita State Sweet 16 shirts." He said that the first shipment came in Sunday, while "another arrived Monday, and two more orders" were scheduled to come yesterday. Snarenberger said that the excitement "seems even greater than in 2006, when WSU last made it to the Sweet 16." Wichita-based Kansas Sampler Rally House Manager Jordan Best-Grim said that the store has "seen a 15 percent increase in sales for WSU gear." Meanwhile, KU sales "have been steady, but without any big spurt." Best-Grim: "KU fans are pretty used to the Sweet 16, and they usually wait until the Elite Eight or Final Four (to buy merchandise)." WSU bookstore Assistant Dir Andi Stipp said that the store "sold out of some sizes of the Sweet 16 shirts and reordered more ... and they had hundreds of sales in store on Monday, in addition to online" (WICHITA EAGLE, 3/26). Meanwhile, La Salle is making its first Sweet 16 appearance since '55, and in Philadelphia, Jad Sleiman notes the first batch of Sweet 16 shirts "were hung up on racks at the La Salle campus store at about noon" yesterday. They were "gone in less than half an hour" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 3/27).

COASTING THROUGH: In Tampa, Stephanie Hayes in a front-page piece notes the Florida Gulf Coast Univ. bookstore reported sales this month have totaled $34,034 for women's apparel and $114,870 for men's apparel. That is in sharp contrast to March '12, when the store was "selling $5,483 worth of women's FGCU hats and clothes, and $14,624 for men" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 3/27). In Ft. Myers, Dave Breitenstein in a front-page piece notes ESPN, CBS and CNN are "among national broadcasters that have camped out this week at Alico Arena." "SportsCenter" on Monday went live from a campus pep rally, while CBS' David Letterman "even mentioned FGCU in his monologue." FGCU coaches and administrators have "granted interviews to multiple outlets in Florida, but also the likes" of the Wall Street Journal, AP, Forbes, Inside Edition, N.Y. Post, MSN Money, SI, TBS and TNT. FGCU AD Ken Kavanagh said, "I didn’t think ‘Outside the Lines’ would ever care what Ken Kavanagh had to say." The campus bookstore has been "jam-packed since Saturday morning, and web traffic Monday shattered the previous record, which had just been set Sunday." FGCU G Brett Comer said that he "saw a Kia advertisement featuring FGCU." Nike ads "also have sprung up" (Ft. Myers NEWS-PRESS, 3/27). In Boston, Dan Shaughnessy writes under the header, "FGCU Is The Nation's Hottest Sports Story" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/27). Dolphins WR Brian Hartline, an Ohio State alum, yesterday tweeted out a picture of his order of FGCU merch from (, 3/26).

U.K. Athletics has been "accused of 'bulldozing' Olympic and Paralympic athletes into signing a central contract that would blunt their individual commercial appeal and place them in breach of existing endorsement deals," according to Ashling O'Connor of the LONDON TIMES. Agents acting for some of the "biggest names in British track and field," including distance runner Mo Farah and heptathlete Jessica Ennis, have "expressed concerns that the 'performance athlete agreement' for 2013-17 severely limits their clients’ freedom to capitalise on their success" at the London Games. Rising stars have been "advised not to sign the contract because it constitutes a restraint of trade." A source said, "I cannot see any athlete signing it in its present form." The conflict comes "amid a change of sponsorship strategy" by U.K. Athletics, which is "pursuing a multi-brand approach after the termination" of its $75.5M (all figures U.S.), five-year sponsorship deal with Aviva. A $1.5M per year deal with McCain Foods, which "funded the grass roots, also comes to an end this year." A "key concern" about the contract is the "potential conflict for athletes with Nike kit deals," as U.K. Athletics is sponsored by adidas (LONDON TIMES, 3/27).