Tennis player Maria Sharapova has signed a three-year deal with Porsche to endorse the automaker. The agreement will see her participate in a global communications campaign (Porsche). ESPN.com's Darren Rovell notes the sponsorship marks Sharapova's "second car deal." Sharapova, who is repped by IMG, signed with Land Rover in '06, but "was lost in the shuffle when Ford sold the brand less than two years later." It is "surprising" that Porsche's "first ever global endorser would be a woman." The automaker is "dominated by male buyers," as research from Edmunds.com shows more than 88% of Porsche 911 buyers "are men." However, part of Sharapova's "lure is that she appeals to both men and women." She earns around $20M annually in endorsements, including deals with Nike, Cole Haan, Evian, Tag Heuer and Samsung (ESPN.com, 4/22).
Marketing and Sponsorship
Nike in yesterday's L.A. Times unveiled a “terrific new ad campaign based around” Lakers G Kobe Bryant’s “eventual return to the court” from a torn Achilles tendon, according to Sean Highkin of USA TODAY. The ad reads in part, “You showed us that an 18-year-old could play with the best. … You showed us how to hit game-winner after game-winner. You showed us that an 81-point game is a real thing. … You showed us how to demand perfection and demand it from everyone. … Now, show us again.” Highkin noted this “isn't the first time an ad campaign has been built around a devastating injury to a superstar," as adidas this year has promoted "The Return" based on Bulls G Derrick Rose's rehab from a torn ACL. But Nike's ad is "a little more tasteful" (USATODAY.com, 4/21). Bryant yesterday on his Twitter feed wrote, “Thank you @nike for this surprise spread in the paper this am. It touched me beyond words. #showuIwill" (TWITTER.com, 4/21).
GANG GREEN: NASCAR Managing Dir of Green Innovation Mike Lynch discussed the racing circuit’s eco-friendly initiatives in a Q&A with FORTUNE.com’s Kurt Wagner. Below are excerpts from the interview.
Q: In 2011 NASCAR started using gasoline made with 15% ethanol. It doesn't seem like you've noticed any negative impact in performance for the cars, is that correct?
Lynch: No, we haven’t. ... We were trying to figure out what blend level would we want to use and are we (even) going to introduce ethanol in the blend with Sunoco or not, our engine shops and the race teams noticed in the initial testing that the blended fuel was making more horsepower. And that's something that really has proved out.
Q: Do you envision moving to 100% ethanol at any time in the future?
Lynch: Sunoco's point of view from a race fuel formulation and optimization standpoint is they've told us they really like the 15% blend because it gives you that additional horsepower yet keeps the blend level at a point where -- and we've said this before -- where nothing needs to be different about the car. So we didn't need to change anything about the engine, about the car itself.
Q: What about solar power? Do you ever think that NASCAR could exist racing cars that are driven by solar?
Lynch: Is this something that we're actively analyzing? Is this something we're paying real professional attention to? The answer is absolutely yes. … We have -- like any other organization -- very long lead times of analysis and prudent consideration before we're going to pilot or introduce something, especially when you're talking about something in a core racing series (FORTUNE.com, 4/19).
In DC, Dan Steinberg noted motorcycle suspension company Research Group 3, which in its industry is “commonly referred to by its initials: RG3,” earlier this year “filed an extension of time with the Trademark Office to oppose" both of Redskins QB Robert Griffin III’s filings. The company was "granted 90 days," and the extension expires this week. Catherine Holland, an intellectual property lawyer representing the company, said, “We just want to clearly delineate the rights that each party has with regard to the phrase RG3.” She said that the company "is not trying to profit off Griffin’s fame" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 4/19).
HOYA DESTROYA: USA TODAY’s Jeff Zillgitt reported Basketball HOFer Patrick Ewing “relaunched his basketball shoe under the umbrella of Ewing Athletics.” Ewing earlier this month “debuted two new hightops: one pair in Georgetown colorways and the other pair in Jamaica colorways.” The shoe line “originally relaunched in 33 stores in the USA, but has expanded to 46, and the shoes are also sold in Canada and Europe.” Investors over the years have “approached Ewing and his longtime agent, David Falk, about restarting Ewing Athletics” (USATODAY.com, 4/20).
FROST YOURSELF: The N.Y. POST’s PAGE SIX reports La Liga club Real Madrid MF Cristiano Ronaldo “appears in a new campaign for Jacob Arabo’s jewelry brand Jacob & Co.” A new print campaign will show Ronaldo “wearing a Ghost Watch that displays 20 different time zones on its face” (N.Y. POST, 4/22).