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Volume 24 No. 114

Marketing and Sponsorship

Current and former athletes increasingly are "contracting with software developers to create branded apps and expand their marketing reach," according to Satariano & MacMillan of the S.F. CHRONICLE. App developer RockLive co-Founder John Shahidi said, "We've been approached by a ton of different athletes." Managers for Usain Bolt in the summer of '11 approached RockLive to "help enhance the sprinter's brand for the London Games." Shahidi's team built a "simple action game, 'Bolt,' in which the athlete fights off pirates to claim his gold, with the occasional Gatorade energy boost." Shahidi also built a soccer app for Real Madrid F Cristiano Ronaldo and a boxing app for Mike Tyson. He said, "With their growing numbers on social media, they have the power to build something that they can co-own versus just giving their name out as part of a licensing deal." Satariano & MacMillan report while there are "hundreds of thousands of apps for sale on Apple's App Store and Google's Play service, athletes have an outsize ability to cut through the noise." Some athletes' apps are "tied to their sport," as with MLB Giants C Buster Posey's home run derby-themed "Buster Bash." Others, like Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez' "exercise-regimen app FitStar, are more general fitness tools." Pro Football HOFer Joe Montana has "spent $100,000 to build 'iMFL,' a fantasy-football app." Sports apps in March "comprised about 3.4 percent of programs with active users in Apple's App Store and Google Play, compared with 4.3 percent the previous year." Tyson, whose boxing game had "an OK run in the App Store before being removed for updating, did little beyond lending his name and doing some marketing appearances." App deals between athletes and software developers are "structured in various ways but often involve joint ownership, with both sides sharing revenue from downloads and ads." The sports stars' agents and managers "typically take the lead on the deals" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 5/10).

Survival in NASCAR is "all about attracting sponsors" and following Front Row Motorsports' one-two finish behind David Ragan and David Gilliland at last week's Sprint Cup Series Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway, the team now has "something tangible to market," according to Rick Bonnell of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER.  Ragan said, "It's tough to sell sponsorships for teams that finish 15 to 25 on average. This shows we're not telling stories, lying to (sponsors). We're people who work six days a week, sleeping at the shop, to build those cars." Bonnell notes Front Row's "financial limitations mean taking a somewhat surgical approach" to the NASCAR schedule, focusing on super-speedways and road courses (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 5/10). MORRIS NEWS SERVICES' Don Coble noted Ragan earned $373,108 at Talladega last week and Gilliland earned $235,153, giving Front Row Owner Bob Jenkins the "biggest pay day in his career." Jenkins said, "It's not why we race. In the racing graveyard, my epitaph won't be I won the most races or championships, but I want to be known as a team that did the most with the least" (MORRIS NEWS SERVICES, 5/9).

CLOSING UP SHOP? ESPN's Brad Daugherty noted stories about Phoenix Racing Owner James Finch considering shutting down operations due to a lack of sponsorship come out "about every season," but he thinks Finch is "very, very serious this time." Daugherty said, "The inability to garner the sponsorship that he needs to be successful and spending his own money, which is unbelievable the amount of money he has spent out of his pocket to be a part of this sport. It's just gotten to where it's overwhelming and he's a little bit tired. It'll be sad if he goes away. We know that whenever the Phoenix Racing team shows up, they're there for one thing and that's to win the race" ("NASCAR Now," ESPN2, 5/8).

NBA players are once again making headlines for their fashion choices during the postseason, and Lucky Magazine Contributing Style Editor Lori Bergamotto said the trend this year has these "strong, tall, confident men looking for more of a feminine side to their clothing." Bergamotto noted Heat F Chris Bosh recently wore a "head-to-toe pink suit" and Heat F LeBron James wore a "printed sweater" during the opening round. Bergamotto: "I think you’re going to see a lot more feminine details on these really masculine men. The dichotomy of that has become very interesting to them." Heat G Dwyane Wade following Game 2 of the team's Eastern Conference Semifinals series against the Bulls wore a brightly-colored floral jacket, and Bergamotto said, "Far be it from me to critique Donatella Versace, but I don’t know that this was the perfect choice for Dwyane Wade. ... It is a floral explosion bomber jacket." She noted Wade has "definitely become the face of style for the NBA and I think he has turned up the volume with this jacket." Bergamotto: "It is floral, it is in your face and it is definitely a statement.” ESPN’s Israel Gutierrez said of Wade’s jacket, “It’s a good balance. You’ve got this really physical player, then you’ve got sort of this nice, soft flowery jacket afterwards that sort of eases everybody’s concerns.” Gutierrez said Wade and James “are some of the most confidant people in the world because they’re so good at what they do, and confidence translates to fashion." Gutierrez: "These guys feel like they can pull off anything. Frankly, I think Dwyane’s jacket probably got a bad rap because if you look at it from head-to-toe -- the entire getup -- it actually looks pretty cool, but only a few people could get away with it” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 5/10).