Zurich Insurance Group, title sponsor of this week's PGA Tour Zurich Classic of New Orleans, has extended its deal through '19. Zurich's relationship with the Tour, established in '05, was set to expire next year. Title sponsorships for Tour events with its broadcast TV partners -- CBS has this one -- typically go for $6-8M a year (Michael Smith, Staff Writer). In New Orleans, Trey Iles noted Zurich partnering with the Fore!Kids Foundation and the PGA Tour has helped raise more than $9M for "local charities that help children in the New Orleans area.” The company also “helped in the rebuilding effort” after Hurricane Katrina in ’05. The partnership has “brought in premiere golfers who have sponsorship deals with Zurich.” Zurich-sponsored golfers Justin Rose and Ben Crane both attended yesterday’s announcement (NOLA.com, 4/24).
BIG EASY STYLE: In New Orleans, Chris Waddington wrote for hardcore New Orleans golf fans, the PGA Tour event “feels like six days of Christmas morning: world class competitors, a wonderful course, a purse of $6.6 million, and the extra pleasure of knowing that all proceeds go to charity.” Tournament CEO Steve Worthy said, “We want to make this an attractive party for all kinds of people, not just the hardcore golf audience.” The event last year “attracted about 100,000 guests over six days.” About 60% of those visitors “come from New Orleans despite competition from that other big, weekend event: the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.” Worthy said, “There’s not a huge overlap between the Jazz Fest audience and the crowd that comes out for Zurich Classic, but we know that both groups want a lot out of a festival experience.” He added, “Our goal is to make this an incredible experience for everyone, whether you’re out here for the first tee at 7 a.m. or one of those fans who shows up with a baby carriage and treats the whole thing as an afternoon in the park. That kind of hospitality is what makes this a real New Orleans event for so many people” (NOLA.com, 4/22).
EA Sports last night named Pro Football HOFer Barry Sanders as the cover athlete for "Madden NFL 25," winning an expanded fan vote program that pitted former NFL stars against a collection of current players. Sanders prevailed over Vikings RB Adrian Peterson -- 58% to 42%. The cover balloting drew 40 million votes, more than twice the 19.6 million votes from last year and more than three times the 12.7 million in '11. "Madden NFL 25," with the name of this year's version of the popular football videogame franchise denoting its 25th anniversary, will be released Aug. 27 (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer). Sanders’ “victory also made it back-to-back” Lions on the cover following WR Calvin Johnson’s win last year. Johnson “snapped the stigma of the 'Madden Curse' in 2012, breaking [Jerry] Rice's NFL single-season receiving yards mark.” On his Twitter feed, Peterson wrote, "Congrats to my guy Barry Sanders for winning the 2013 Madden Cover! Any other guy to take me down... it would've been a problem! Salute" (ESPN.com, 4/24).
PROVED ELUSIVE: ESPN's Charissa Thompson during a special on the unveiling of the cover said, "We started off with 64 stars in a bracket divided by old school and new school. Forty million votes later, we have whittled it down to two." Prior to the reveal, Sanders said of not being on the cover while he was an active player, "Back in the late nineties, I was scheduled to be on the cover, I was excited about it, grew up a huge John Madden fan and that was sort of the beginnings of the game. Unfortunately, that was the year I was retired, so I missed out on the game, but I'm hoping this year is my year" ("Sports Nation: Madden Cover Vote Reveal," ESPN2, 4/24).
While this year's NFL Draft class “has been described by some as deep in talent," the roster of potential draftees "appears to be lacking something at the very top: stars,” according to Michael Whitmer of the BOSTON GLOBE. Most mock drafts “don’t seem to be delivering any of the bankable, popular names that we’ve seen from drafts past, and then see on TV as celebrity pitchmen in national advertising campaigns” (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/25). Meanwhile, Crest and Oral-B Pro-Health have partnered with NFL draft prospect Luke Joeckel, who is a possibility to go to the Chiefs with the No. 1 overall pick, to promote its “Go Pro” campaign, with a donation to the int'l non-profit Dress for Success. The deal also will provide a donation in Joeckel’s new NFL city to the Dress for Success organization (Crest).
ON THE CATWALK: In N.Y., Lisa Marsh reports clothing brand Sean John “worked with marketing company Conversion Sports to host a gifting suite this week for the potential NFL draftees.” Companies that will be represented “include Aquahydrate water, Ciroc vodka, Gillette, Rafaello and Co. (jewelry), Soul Headphones, private jet company Solarius and Yagi Jewelry.” Sean John VP/Marketing & Communications Vincent Panzanella said, “These suites give us access and the opportunity to get to know them. If we talk to them now, they know us as a trusted resource. Hopefully, we can help them leverage not only their personal brand, but our overall brand” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 4/25).
If Jay-Z's Roc Nation Sports ends up partnering with top NHL Draft prospect Seth Jones, son of former NBAer Popeye Jones, for marketing representation, it could be a potential "blockbuster ... for the NHL," according to Greg Wyshynski of YAHOO SPORTS. Jones would be the league's "first black player taken No. 1 overall," which "isn't exactly seen as a model of diversity for casual sports fans." It is something that already has "caught the attention of non-hockey media." Should Jones go No. 1, it could be a "sea-change moment for the NHL and its marketing -- Tiger Woods-ian in its potential impact on American hockey, and especially if Jones is as good as advertised." If he "hooks up with Jay-Z, no doubt he'll be advertised" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 4/24). In Canada, Gregg Drinnan writes of Jones possibly going No.1, "Tie that in with his father's NBA connections, throw in Jay-Z and the marketing possibilities will be almost endless." However, Jones was "adamant that, at least from his perspective, this all is just speculation." Jones said, "I'm not signing ... I'm not committed to anything. My agent is Pat Brisson of CAA. I believe (CAA and Roc Nation) have some kind of joint partnership ... but it's in his and my best interests to open up new things" (KAMLOOPS DAILY NEWS, 4/25). Brisson yesterday in a statement said, "CAA Sports is proud to represent Seth Jones in all of his on and off the ice endeavors, spearheading all contract negotiations and marketing on his behalf. We are always looking to access all of the resources and relationships across the agency to bring new opportunities to our clients. Roc Nation and CAA Sports have recently announced a relationship which could be beneficial to our athletes" (TSN.ca, 4/24).
When Richmond Int'l Raceway awarded Virginia-based Barber Martin its media-buying account last year, agency President Robyn Deyo put together an ad campaign aimed at consumers who are "curious about NASCAR, but not addicted to the sport," according to Randy Hallman of the RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH. The resulting TV spots, which "recently have been running in Virginia and neighboring states, are mood pieces." The promos "don’t follow the standard formula for NASCAR ads," as they "aren’t about cars flashing and crashing." Rather, the ads are "about the people who come to the track." One spot "picks up on the literally thousands of flags that fly around any NASCAR event -- not only the checkered, green and yellow flags used to control the race, but also flags celebrating car numbers, drivers, sponsors, causes, U.S. armed forces and the United States itself." Another spot "juxtaposes haunting images of a child with a toy car and NASCAR race cars moving with a surprising serenity." RIR President Dennis Bickmeier said, "We sat down at a table and brainstormed with them. They understood our goals and objectives, and they’re right there with us. The strategy is to really reinvigorate the RIR brand.” Bickmeier added that RIR "didn’t want loud, frenetic ads, and Barber Martin responded." Bickmeier: "They don’t show a lot of race cars. They show the emotion of people who love racing. They show the patriotism of our fans. They show the shared excitement building up to the race" (RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, 4/25).
Major retailers, Boston sports teams, and "average citizens are selling massive amounts of Boston-related apparel to raise money for victims of the Marathon bombings," according to Katie Johnston of the BOSTON GLOBE. Many of the shirts feature the "blue and yellow Boston Marathon colors, with some variation of the city skyline and the words 'Boston Strong.'" Most of the "proceeds are going to" The One Fund Boston. adidas has raised more than $1M with its "limited-edition T-shirt, which, like several others, sells for $26.20 -- a reference to the 26.2-mile Marathon course." Boston sports teams have "joined in the fund-raising." The Bruins have "collected more than $100,000," and the MLL Boston Cannons have "raised about $30,000 with versions of 'Boston Strong' shirts and other donations." Sports apparel company ‘47 Brand has "brought in more than $300,000 from its 'B Strong' cap featuring the Red Sox 'B.'" Barstool Sports "designed a shirt featuring" Red Sox DH David Ortiz' quote, "This is our (expletive) city." Barstool Sports has "raised $165,000" from the shirt, plus two others (BOSTON GLOBE, 4/25).
BROTHERLY LOVE: In Philadelphia, Brian McCrone noted race sponsors for the city's Blue Cross Broad Street Run on May 5 "released a new logo with the phrase 'From Philly to Boston with Love' that each runner will be given to wear during the race." The new logo's design includes "images of the Liberty Bell and a four-leaf clover within the words and a backdrop of a heart." Race sponsor Independence Blue Cross and logo designer Cadient Group also "donated $10,000 each to" The One Fund Boston (PHILLY.com, 4/24).
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