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Volume 24 No. 117

Marketing and Sponsorship

Wizards C Jason Collins’ status as the first active male athlete in a major U.S. pro sport to announce he is gay "could reap huge rewards" from a marketing standpoint, according to advertising experts cited by Marie Szaniszlo of the BOSTON HERALD. Ft. Lauderdale-based Gay Ad Network CEO Mark Elderkin said, “The gay market is a big market, so this is a tremendous opportunity for Jason. He’s an all-around good athlete with a clean record -- all the attributes of a spokesman for a national brand. And with the publicity around this, the right sponsor can take advantage of that.” Collins already “has an endorsement deal with Nike” (BOSTON HERALD, 4/30).'s Darren Heitner reported IEG Senior VP/Content Strategy Jim Andrews "believes that Collins and his representatives need to move carefully and will not want to be seen as someone exploiting this new opportunity to sign a plethora of new endorsement deals in what may be seen as him simply 'cashing in' on being the first openly gay player." Andrews said, "He has put himself in a position where lots of brands marketing to the LGBT community will be interested in him. If I’m a brand that is marketing to the LGBT community, then I would love to be the first company that signs him as an endorser and be able to get out there and say that as supporters of the community we are proud to announce a partnership with Jason Collins.” Andrews "admits that Collins’ endorsement potential will be further enhanced should he play next season -- he’s a free agent -- but even if that is not a possibility and his career is over, the step he took today has instantaneously made him a hero to the LGBT community" (, 4/29). ADWEEK’s Christopher Heine noted on a “pure advertising level," Nike, Collins' only known sponsor, looks like the "perfect company to push [his] courageous public stance as an opportunity to further solidify the brand's recent history of supporting gay rights” (, 4/29).

DEALS OUT THERE TO BE MADE: SI's Jon Wertheim said Collins is “so much more marketable than he was yesterday" following the announcement. Wertheim: "I think there are a lot of companies looking to align with him” (“Power Lunch,” CNBC, 4/29). Baker Street Advertising Exec VP & Exec Creative Dir Bob Dorfman said companies "will respond very positively" to the announcement. Dorfman noted it "would have helped if he was a bigger star," as Collins is "not exactly a household name or a household face.” But he added, “The LGBT market they say is close to a $1 trillion market in buying power. There is a lot of opportunity there.” Dorfman: “Then I would expect there would be lots of offers for book deals and speaking engagements” (GLOBE & MAIL, 4/30). The San Jose Mercury News’ Mark Purdy said, “You know what’s going to be a big deal? The first endorsement deal that Jason Collins signs after this. ... When other athletes see Jason Collins isn’t hurt by that, that’s when you’re going to see more of this” (“Chronicle Live,” Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, 4/29).

Blackhawks C Jonathan Toews, following a season that saw his team set an NHL-record 24-game point streak and clinch its first Presidents Trophy since '91, had the top-selling player jersey this year, according to data from from Jan. 19 through April 26. Toews finished last season ranked No. 6 overall. Last season's leader in jersey sales -- Flyers RW Claude Giroux -- finished this year ranked No. 7. Red Wings C Pavel Datsyuk, Penguins C Sidney Crosby, Rangers LW Rick Nash and Blackhawks RW Patrick Kane rounded out the top five this season. Nash did not rank among the top 20 in the league last season as a member of the Blue Jackets. Capitals LW Alex Ovechkin, who ranked No. 4 last season, fell to No. 19 this season. The Blackhawks and the Bruins were the most well-represented teams on the list, with four players each cracking the top 20 (THE DAILY).

Blackhawks C Jonathan Toews
Red Wings LW Henrik Zetterberg
Red Wings C Pavel Datsyuk
Maple Leafs LW Joffrey Lupul
Penguins C Sidney Crosby
Devils RW Ilya Kovalchuk
Rangers LW Rick Nash
Bruins LW Brad Marchand
Blackhawks RW Patrick Kane
Bruins RW Tyler Seguin
Blackhawks RW Marian Hossa
Blackhawks LW Patrick Sharp
Flyers RW Claude Giroux
Islanders C John Tavares
Rangers RW Ryan Callahan
Bruins C Patrice Bergeron
Penguins LW James Neal
Capitals LW Alex Ovechkin
Wild LW Zach Parise
Bruins D Zdeno Chara

In Boston, Donna Goodison reports Gronk Nation, owned by Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski, Browns TE Dan Gronkowski and Chargers FB Chris Gronkowski, has "filed a trademark infringement lawsuit" against Mass.-based Sully’s Tees for "allegedly selling unauthorized 'Gronk' T-shirts." Gronk Nation "received federal trademark designations" in December for “Gronk Nation,” “Gronk” and “Get Gronk’d.” The Gronkowski's attorney Timothy Perry said that while an application to trademark “Gronk” for hats, shirts and wristbands is pending, the brothers "still have protection under Massachusetts law." Perry said that the three brothers sell their own “Gronk” T-shirts through the Gronk Nation website and "donate a 'substantial' portion of the proceeds to their nonprofit Gronk Nation Youth Foundation" (BOSTON HERALD, 4/30).

SOUTH SIDE SUDS: Former MLBer Frank Thomas said of his Big Hurt Beer brand, which launched in '11, "It takes five years to really start a (new beer brand), and we expect in five years to make it a household name. We're serious about this brand." In Chicago, Danny Ecker reported Thomas "does not aspire to become a brewmaster himself, but he's pushing more chips into marketing his beer business with the new Big Hurt Brew House restaurant and microbrewery in Berwyn." Big Hurt Beer last year "sold just more than 10,000 cases across six states." Chicago-based beverage industry consulting firm Technomic VP David Henkes said, "The fact that they're in six states -- that's pretty good for an extremely small brand" (, 4/29).

KICKOFF TIME: MARKETING magazine's John Reynolds reported BT will "kick-start a marketing campaign showcasing its new football channel in mid-May," featuring EPL club Manchester United F Robin van Persie and Tottenham MF Gareth Bale. Van Persie will "star in TV ads and feature on billboards and other marketing." BT's campaign will "go up against Sky, which has held the sports-pay crown for two decades and is likely to go toe-to-toe against its new rival in terms of marketing" (, 4/29).