The 139th Kentucky Oaks will be run Friday as the Longines Kentucky Oaks, under a five-year sponsorship agreement between Churchill Downs Inc. and the Swiss watchmaker. It is the first sponsorship for the Oaks, which draws crowds of more than 100,000 to Churchill Downs and features the best three-year-old fillies in the country running on the day before the Kentucky Derby. Churchill Downs and Longines officials did not reveal financial details of the agreement. Although the race will now be known as the Longines Kentucky Oaks, it is considered a presenting sponsorship and not a title sponsorship, said Churchill Downs VP/Partnerships Kristin Warfield. The Kentucky Derby signed its first presenting sponsorship with Yum! Brands in ‘06. That agreement was extended in ‘11 and runs through ‘15. Warfield has been looking for a partner for the Oaks since she was hired by Churchill in ‘09. “It’s been four years of very carefully searching for a partner that would be a good brand fit for the Kentucky Oaks and we are very particular about what we were looking for in a partnership,” Warfield said. “And we came close a couple of times, but did not consummate any relationship prior to this.” Churchill Downs in ‘09 rebranded Oaks day as Ladies Day, a social day featuring fashion -- women are encouraged to wear pink -- and benefits for women’s causes. The “elegance” of Longines and its status as a global brand with a long history were particularly attractive to Churchill Downs, Warfield said.
SIGNAGE ON STARTING GATES, FINISH LINE: Under the terms of the agreement, Longines will advertise on the telecast of the Kentucky Oaks, which is to be aired on NBC Sports Network on Friday. Additionally, Longines will have starting gate and finish line signage. Longines also will receive “race apparel” rights, which includes branding on the starting gate workers’ apparel and on the saddlecloths of the horses in the race. The Derby and Oaks were first run in 1875. Longines was founded in 1832 and is now owned by the Swatch Group. “Both our brand and the famous race boast a long and rich history,” wrote Longines VP & Head of Int’l Marketing Juan-Carlos Capelli in an e-mail. “Tradition means a lot to both organizations.” Longines became the first official watch and timekeeper of the Kentucky Derby in ‘11. That relationship will be extended through ‘17, concurrent with the Oaks sponsorship, as part of the new deal. “Being associated with the Kentucky Derby brings a great visibility to Longines and helps us to increase the brand awareness in the U.S. and all over the world,” Capelli said.
Negotiations between Wells Fargo and the PGA Tour "are continuing with the goal of signing a five-year deal" that will keep the Wells Fargo Championship, which takes place this week, in Charlotte through '19, though no official agreement has been reached, according to Ron Green Jr. in a special to the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. It is a “significant change from just a few years ago when it appeared” the tourney would end after '14. The event "appears to have a long future" at Quail Hollow Club. Wells Fargo Charlotte Regional President Kendall Alley said, "Everything feels good about where this tournament is headed." Alley said that the bank has “had conversations with the tour since 2009 but the discussions have intensified in recent months.” Green noted if Wells Fargo and the Tour “reach an agreement, a deal must be finalized between the sponsor, the host committee (Champions For Education) and the club.” Finally, an “alternative site for 2017 must be found because the PGA Championship will be played at Quail Hollow” that year. Originally, the course “agreed not to host an event in 2016 or 2017 to prepare the course for the PGA but the club asked to get 2016 back and the PGA of America accommodated the request.” Alley said, "It’s a three-legged stool. You have to have all three legs. There’s a heightened sense of awareness that we have to get this resolved. The biggest part is our conversation with the tour." Alley said that Wells Fargo will “host approximately 2,000 customers during tournament week.” Now that it “seems likely" the event will continue, "finding an alternate site for one year is a high priority.” Several sites are under consideration “including Charlotte Country Club and East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta but the most likely destination is Eagle Pointe Golf Club" in Wilmington, N.C. (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/28).
ESPN The Magazine is “taking a page from electronic media by letting an advertiser incorporate its logo into editorial content,” according to Emma Bazilian of ADWEEK. Starting with the magazine's 15th anniversary issue this week, ESPN “will run an editorial sidebar bearing the words ‘Cold Hard Facts presented by Coors Light’ at the top.” ESPN The Magazine Editor-in-Chief Chad Millman said that the publication's edit team “will have full control over the sidebars; MillerCoors won't have final approval or get to preview the content ahead of time.” The partnership is “set to run in select issues through the end of 2013.” Millman said that he “saw the partnership as a way to catch up to other media platforms that are ‘moving at a faster pace.’” While integrating a brand's logo in editorial “may raise the hackles of purists, such a partnership isn't unprecedented” for ESPN. The company a decade ago “partnered with MillerCoors to create sponsored ‘SportsCenter’ segments,” in which an ESPN anchor asks a sports analyst a "six-pack" of questions. The franchise has “since expanded to include ‘Cold Hard Facts’ content on ESPN's Web and mobile platforms.” ESPN Exec VP/Multimedia Sales Eric Johnson said, “We think that the notion that a sports fan is able to discern ‘SportsCenter’ content from advertiser content on-air or a homepage takeover on ESPN.com but isn't able to do so in the magazine is just illogical” (ADWEEK, 4/29 issue).
Panthers QB Cam Newton acknowledges that he is “not literally sketching looks" for his new clothing line at Charlotte-based Belk department store, but said that he “gives lots of input on things like color palettes, pattern designs and even details like choosing the right buttons or zippers,” according to a front-page piece by Cristina Bolling of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. The MADE Cam Newton line is rolling out at 133 Belk stores and belk.com and "encompasses everything from suits and ties to T-shirts and jeans -- more than 60 products.” Belk execs said that never in the company’s 125-year history has it "partnered with a pro athlete on an entire apparel line.” Newton is “big on making sure the line has plenty of color.” He said, “You would be surprised by the things I’ve said yes and no to. Anytime your name is on something or you are affiliated with something, you want it to come out with a bang and say, ‘This is my clothing line. This is how it looks and I feel great in it.’” Univ. of Oregon marketing professor T. Bettina Cornwell said that Newton is “part of a growing trend of celebrities ‘creating’ their own products.” Cornwell said that companies “research a celebrity, and initial contracts like the one between Newton and Belk typically range from three to five years, with the option of extending the contract.” Newton and officials from Belk said that the “oversight that Newton has over every product that bears his name is real.” Belk Exec VP/Private Brands John Thomas said that talks between the company and Newton “started about a year ago” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/29).
In Chicago, Joe Cowley wrote adidas has been "smart to stay under the radar" with its sponsorship of Bulls G Derrick Rose during his recovery from a torn ACL. Chicago-based marketing firm IEG Senior VP/Content Strategy Jim Andrews said, "If you’re Adidas, you know there is some negative because people are grumbling about why Rose isn’t playing, but is it a big enough negative? Most cases, no. Sports fans have notoriously short memories. Even if we get upset with our favorite athletes or teams, once they get back to doing what they do, especially if they’re winning, all is forgiven. I think that’s what Adidas and all the companies that sponsor (Rose) are banking on." Cowley noted yesterday marked the "one-year anniversary" of Rose's knee injury (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 4/27).
"O" NO YOU DIDN'T: In Iowa, Nate Robson reported a local high school has "drafted a plan to phase out" the use of their maroon-colored "O" logo because it infringes on the Univ. of Oregon's trademarked logo. Okoboji High School Superintendent Gary Janssen said that he is asking UO "to give the district time." He added that he "did not know how much it will cost to swap out the logo" (SIOUX CITY JOURNAL, 4/27).
DROP IT LIKE IT'S HOT: NBCSPORTS.com's Brett Pollakoff noted adidas' latest ad features Wizards G John Wall, Trail Blazers G Damian Lillard and 76ers G Jrue Holiday and is narrated by rapper A$AP Rocky. The ad refers to Lillard as NBA Rookie of the Year, which is "something that’s been widely assumed but has yet to be officially announced" (NBCSPORTS.com, 4/27). The spot "will begin airing Wednesday" (ESPN.com, 4/26).