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Volume 24 No. 117

Marketing and Sponsorship

VF Corp.'s Wrangler brand yesterday announced that it has signed Saints QB Drew Brees as its latest celebrity endorser, and the former NFL MVP will be featured in upcoming marketing campaigns scheduled to launch in August. He will appear in national advertising, promos and in-store signage for the Wrangler Five Star Premium Denim line. Shooting for television ads will begin next month. He joins NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and former NFLer Brett Favre as endorsers of the brand. VF Jeanswear VP/Marketing Communications Craig Errington said the three athletes will be featured in the same campaign, but there are no plans to have all of them star together in the same commercial. He said, “That would certainly be an interesting and logical segment of the campaign. But we won’t really use all three of them in this upcoming campaign.” Errington noted it was “a little bit of a coincidence" that Brees, Earnhardt and Favre all hail from the Southern region of the U.S. Errington said, “The reason why we have relationships with them is because they share some of these common traits of being authentic and down to earth and approachable. One of the other tie-ins that we have with all of our guys, and it continues with Drew Brees too, is our brand positioning is all around comfort, and comfortable jeans. Drew Brees is a great example of a well-known, successful athlete who’s just extremely comfortable in who he is and what his life is, and that really is a nice connection and relationship with a brand like Wrangler.” The brand has no current plans to add additional athletes to its endorser roster. Errington said, “We feel like with those three guys in particular, they are supporting the business that Wrangler has within the mass market retail distribution channel."

Subway yesterday announced it has signed an endorsement deal with former Univ. of Georgia LB Jarvis Jones, who is projected to go in the first round of tomorrow night's NFL Draft. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Jones joins a large roster of NFL players sponsored by the QSR, including Redskins QB Robert Griffin III, Giants DE Justin Tuck, Lions DT Ndamukong Suh, Bills RB C.J. Spiller and Saints RB Mark Ingram. Fox NFL analyst Michael Strahan also endorses Subway (THE DAILY). The AP’s Barry Wilner noted Jones yesterday was at a Manhattan Subway restaurant “playfully posing for photos” with a food bust that “bears a remarkable resemblance.” He also “took a turn behind the counter making a few sandwiches.” Jones has been a “regular at the franchise restaurant since he was in middle school” (AP, 4/23). Jones appeared on NBC Sports Network’s “The Crossover” last night wearing a green Subway restaurant shirt and said of the bust, “That’s my twin right here, man. He took care of me today. It’s amazing, it’s great artwork, I’m loving it.” NBCSN's Dave Briggs asked, “Are you going to eat any of that later?” Jones: “No, I don’t think I will” ("The Crossover," NBCSN, 4/23). ESPN’s Stan Verrett said, “It’s pretty obvious why a sandwich chain would make a bust of a college football linebacker out of surprisingly low-fat smokehouse barbeque chicken. It’s because it’s so wacky we just couldn’t resist showing it to you." Verrett noted Jones' dreadlocks in the bust were "made of raisins” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 4/23).

Gold Medal-winning U.S. gymnast Gabby Douglas has reached a deal with McDonald's to "promote its newest item -- the egg-white breakfast sandwich," in an attempt to "attract diners with healthier items," according to Leslie Patton of BLOOMBERG NEWS. National marketing for the 250-calorie sandwich "starts April 29 and includes print, billboard, radio and television ads." Douglas "won’t appear in any of the ads -- she will promote the egg whites at McDonald’s events." McDonald's Marketing Dir Noelle Laughter "declined to say how much McDonald’s is spending on the campaign and how much it paid Douglas." Douglas made "headlines last year when she told Jay Leno that she 'splurged' on an McDonald’s Egg McMuffin, which has 300 calories, to celebrate her Olympic wins." First Lady Michelle Obama, founder of the "Let’s Move" campaign to fight childhood obesity, in response said, "You’re setting me back, Gabby.” Baker Street Advertisers Exec VP & Exec Creative Dir Bob Dorfman said that promoting items with Olympic athletes can be "risky because they don’t have a lot of 'staying power.'" He said that when Douglas "finished the games last year, 'she was the darling of America.'" Dorfman: “Now that’s faded a little bit” (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 4/23).

USA Pro Challenge race organizers, under the plaintiff name Classic Bicycle Racing, filed suit April 10 against Exergy Development Group for $2.5M, "saying that was the amount Exergy agreed to give the race in 2013 as part of a three-year sponsorship deal signed last year,” according to John Henderson of the DENVER POST. Event CEO Shawn Hunter “refused to comment on the lawsuit but did say, despite Exergy's failed payment, sponsorship for his August race will still be up at least 20 percent over last year.” Exergy "agreed to pay the race" $1M from May 10-Sept. 30, 2012; $2.5M from Oct. 1, 2012-Sept. 30, 2013; and $2.5M from Oct. 1, 2013-Sept. 30, 2014. The company then “failed to make its first sponsorship payment of $500,000 on Sept. 1.” After giving a check “for $100,000 four days later, it failed to make a second payment of $500,000 on Sept. 15.” The suit claimed that Exergy also “didn't make a payment of $750,000 on Feb. 1.” Hunter has “landed other sponsors, not yet named, to counteract the loss of Exergy." Meanwhile, Lance Armstrong's doping confession in January was a “nonfactor." Hunter said, "No one's come out and said, 'We're not going to sponsor your race because of what happened in the past or what happened in the early part of '13'" (DENVER POST, 4/24).

The AP reported NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski for the Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond Int'l Raceway “will not be in his familiar No. 2 blue Ford this weekend as sponsor Miller Lite swaps out with Redd's Apple Ale for the first of two races this season.” The Redd's paint scheme “will also be on the No. 2 at Pocono in August.” Miller Lite is “one of the few sponsors to retain the rights to every race for the season.” The car as a result “is almost always its traditional blue and white colors.” But the No. 2 has “had special paint schemes over the years” (AP, 4/23).

SPREADING THE WEALTH: EPL club Manchester United has entered into a five-year partnership with Vietnamese bank BIDV. The deal will see BIDV offer its first affinity card. The bank will also offer a ManU debit card early next season (ManU). The deal builds on the club's "portfolio of financial interests in the Far East” (AP, 4/24).

THESE BUDS ARE FOR YOU: In Ft. Lauderdale, Shandel Richardson reported Heat F Shane Battier “recently was surprised by Bud Light delivering 1,100 cases to his home.” Battier last month was "asked if he had any superstitions during the Heat’s 27-game winning streak.” He said that he “had none except for drinking the same beer -- Bud Light -- after every game.” He received the gift after his comments "made their way back to the beer company” (, 4/23).