TNT analyst and former NBAer Shaquille O’Neal has agreed to a deal "with Arizona Beverage that will put 50 million Shaq Soda cans in circulation in June,” according to David Kaplan of FORTUNE magazine. O’Neal in the deal with Arizona Beverage will "get a small percentage of wholesale sales." His decision to partner with Arizona "was based chiefly on a desire to help the beverage maker launch a new category.” Two years into retirement, O'Neal makes “more now than he did most years throwing down slam dunks.” O'Neal from early on in his NBA career “was an object of Madison Avenue's desire.” But that he is “more of a marketing phenomenon today than he was in his NBA prime is partly due to luck: He's instantly recognizable.” In addition “to peddling Gold Bond, Icy Hot, and manly jewelry at Zales," Shaq also "has a comic book in development, and he's a Silicon Valley investor.” Still, he “works hard at it.” Shaq & Co. “assembles his two dozen corporate partners" to compare notes, "share ideas, and invent Shaq suffixes” (FORTUNE, 5/20 issue).
KEEPING IT REAL? AUTOMOTIVE NEWS' Vince Ford Jr. noted TNT's Charles Barkley on Monday night's episode of "Inside The NBA" took a shot at O'Neal "about his LaCrosse ads by saying O'Neal was rubbed down with Gold Bond Lotion to fit in." That led to the following exchange:
Barkley: "Had to grease your body to get in that Buick." O'Neal: "It takes me two seconds to get in my Buick." Barkley: "Kenny (Smith) told me only you and one of your kids can fit. You have to go to the amusement park with just one kid at a time." O'Neal: "It's probably true."
Buick Communications Group Manager Nick Richards yesterday confirmed that O’Neal “does indeed drive a Buick,” and that O'Neal's black ‘13 Buick LaCrosse -- his “first -- was delivered to him earlier this month.” Richards said, "Ever since he started doing those spots, he and Charles have been going back and forth on the show." He added that the ads “have performed well.” Richards: "From an advertising standpoint, his spots have copy tested better than anything else we've done" (AUTONEWS.com, 5/14).
Sherwin-Williams today begins its designation as NASCAR's official paint partner, and company Chair & CEO Christopher Connor said that with 34 of 42 NASCAR teams using Sherwin-Williams automotive paint and protective coatings, the sponsorship was the "logical next step," according to Janet Cho of the Cleveland PLAIN DEALER. Not only will the Sherwin-Williams name and logo be "splashed across race tracks and on the cars themselves over the 10-month racing season, but the company will also be the title sponsor of the Fastest Lap Award in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series." Elevation Group co-Founder & President Denny Young said that a partnership between pro motorsports and a Fortune 500 architectural and automotive paint company "makes perfect sense." The NASCAR association "gives Sherwin-Williams the chance to forge additional business-to-business relationships with more than 60 other Official NASCAR Partners." NASCAR Chief Sales Officer Jim O'Connell said, "Joining dozens of other blue-chip brands with official status, the company has a rich history in NASCAR and understands how to use our brands to drive its business." In a '12 Fan Engagement study commissioned by NASCAR, nearly half of fans said that "seeing a company identified as an 'Official Sponsor of NASCAR' made them more likely to consider buying its merchandise or services." Young said, "If you're a guy who's having your car repainted, Sherwin-Williams wants you to ask for their paint. They want you to think: 'If Sherwin-Williams paint is good enough for the greatest racers in the world, it's good enough for me'" (Cleveland PLAIN DEALER, 5/15).
Motocross team RCH Racing in its third season of sponsorship from Chrysler is "proving it's possible to be a viable organization without being tied solely to money from factories -- such as Kawasaki, Honda and Yahama -- that are endemic to the sport,” according to Nate Ryan of USA TODAY. Chrysler's Ram Truck brand will sponsor RCH during the "outdoor season after the Dodge Dart was promoted during Supercross.” While RCH Partner Ricky Carmichael “brokered a sponsorship deal with Suzuki that brings critical technology and R&D to the team, RCH remains primarily funded by non-racing sponsors (including Syucan Casino).” Carmichael’s NASCAR experience from '09-11 "might have yielded an intangible benefit: business savvy,” as the former Camping World Truck Series driver saw “how stock car teams pay the bills through creative sponsorships.” Carmichael said, "After being on both sides of the fence and learning the NASCAR program, I knew this was the way motocross and Supercross were probably going to go." While Carmichael “handles the competition side of the team, the business side is handled” by RCH Founder Carey Hart, who sees “plenty of marketing potential for sponsors in racing motorbikes.” Hart said, “Dodge did a great job of opening that door up as the first big corporate company to get involved with our team. Everyone is testing the waters now, and I think you'll see a lot more in the future." Hart is “confident of re-signing Dodge to another three-year extension when its original deal expires after this season.” But he “hopes to add more sponsors when the team expands to two riders in 2014” (USA TODAY, 5/15).
Huntington Prep F Andrew Wiggins, the nation’s No. 1 high school basketball prospect, yesterday committed to the Univ. of Kansas, but ESPN recruiting analyst Dave Telep said Wiggins and the school had a “conversation about the sneaker affiliation” the Jayhawks have prior to the announcement. Telep appeared on Charlotte’s WFNZ-AM yesterday and noted Kansas is sponsored by adidas, while Wiggins has played for a Nike-sponsored AAU team and attended Nike basketball camps. Telep said a Nike rep several weeks ago told him Wiggins was “starting to ask how much adidas stuff he has to wear.” Telep: “I think he was told he can wear it during the game, and the Nike stuff he can wear the rest of the time around campus. It's always a conversation that has to be had.” Wiggins is largely considered a one-and-done player, and Telep noted he likely will “sign a sneaker deal sometime within the next 12 months.” Telep: “It's a conversation that every school has to have with the kid on some level. In the case of Kansas, I know they had to have the conversation about the sneaker affiliation. Clearly, it turned out it wasn't a deal-breaker but it had to be addressed." Wiggins also was considering Florida State, Kentucky and North Carolina, all Nike schools (“The Drive,” WFNZ-AM, 5/14).
Online ticket outfit ScoreBig.com has struck a large-scale partnership with United Airlines in which members of United's frequent flier program will be able to earn and redeem miles for sports, concert and theatre tickets. The L.A.-based company will become the exclusive marketing partner for live-event ticketing for MileagePlus, United's loyalty program. Financial terms were not disclosed, but the deal is intended to be the first of several partnerships ScoreBig.com will sign in the travel and hospitality industry. "We've opened up a major distribution point for this ticket inventory," said ScoreBig Founder & CEO Adam Kanner. "It's a great way to expose ScoreBig to additional people and expand our profile, as this is one of the largest and most extensive loyalty programs anywhere. And it's one where live entertainment is really an untapped market. These people are flying all over the world, and in many cases are looking for things to do in the cities where they're going. This is a big gateway to reach millions of consumers." The deal will include extensive integration and co-branding within both ScoreBig.com and the MileagePlus online site, as well as offline marketing. ScoreBig.com has positioned itself as a discount channel for tickets, with all of its inventory below face value. MileagePlus boasts more than 90 million members.
AD WEEK’s Andrew McMains noted late Baseball HOFer Babe Ruth’s image “appears in a new ad for Jockey Sport underwear” that debuted on Monday. Ruth “takes up but a few seconds" in a 30-second ad that "mainly focuses on modern day sports men in sweaty settings: a weight room, a basketball court and a soccer field” (ADWEEK.com, 5/13).
STANDING GUARD:MLIVE.com’s Tarryl Jackson reported the Michigan National Guard is "partnering with Michigan International Speedway" and sponsoring the Aug. 17 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race. The Michigan National Guard 200 will mark "the first time that the organization has sponsored a race.” The organization also will continue to partner with MIS for "race activities at all of the events held at the track this year” (MLIVE.com, 5/14).
THE LADIES' TEES: GOLF DIGEST’s Stephen Hennessey reports Loudmouth has a “new partnership with Japanese company Sanrio, the creator of the popular Hello Kitty character.” Loudmouth will produce a "new collection for women golfers" comprised of “four patterns to choose from -- pink and black, blue and gold, red and black and houndstooth -- in mini-shorts, skorts and pants” (GOLF DIGEST STIX, 5/15 issue).
SPUR OF THE MOMENT:AGLAMSLAM.com’s Heather Zeller reported luxury watchmaker Tissot “debuted a new signature timepiece” by Spurs G Tony Parker that includes a basketball graphic and Parker’s No. 9 on the dial. The watch is “limited to 4,999 pieces and each will feature a case which is finely engraved and a case back” that is silk printed with Parker’s signature and number (AGLAMSLAM.com, 5/13).