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Volume 24 No. 117

Marketing and Sponsorship

NBC Sports has sold 75% of its advertising inventory for the '14 Sochi Games and hopes to top $800M in sales, which would set a record for a Winter Games. A major driver of the increase stems from a change in NBC’s approach to selling advertising on For the first time, NBC is limiting the number of companies it will feature on its website to its 16 biggest TV advertisers, and it has already sold out all 16 of those digital advertising positions. The early sale results are a major improvement from sales ahead of the '10 Vancouver Games, when NBC Sports sold just 74-76% of its inventory and lost $200M on the Olympics. Its goal was to sell more than $650M in advertising for Vancouver. NBC Sports Group Exec VP/Sales & Marketing Seth Winter said his team expects to sell more than 80% of its advertising inventory for Sochi. The last time the group sold more than 80% of its advertising for an Olympics was Beijing in '08. “The story is nothing short of fantastic,” Winter said. “To think we could come close to what we did for Beijing is nothing short of miraculous.” Winter credited strong demand from USOC and IOC sponsors with driving sales. USOC sponsors such as BP, Kellogg’s, BMW, Chobani, Citi, TD Ameritrade, Liberty Mutual and Smucker’s have all committed to advertising. IOC sponsors such as P&G, Visa, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and GE have all signed on to advertise, as well (Tripp Mickle, Staff Writer). AD AGE's Michael McCarthy notes there were "concerns the six-hour time difference between the U.S. and Russia would hurt demand." But "brisk sales for Sochi are 'handily eclipsing' those" last two North American Olympics -- Vancouver in '10 and the '02 Salt Lake Games. NBC thinks it is "possible to sell out ad time for Sochi, which is difficult for an Olympic broadcaster given the time and inventory of the multi-week games" (, 5/16).

A-B, HILTON NOT BUYING AD TIME: Of the USOC’s 15 largest sponsors, only Anheuser-Busch and Hilton have opted not to buy advertising. This will be the first time in a decade that A-B has not advertised during an Olympics. By comparison, it had 103 spots in the '06 Turin Games. Hilton chose not to advertise during last summer's London Games as well. A-B VP/Marketing Paul Chibe said the company is focused on its official sponsorship of Team USA. He added, “With respect to advertising, TV media is not the only game in town. We will activate in new, creative ways.” Among IOC sponsors, Winter said NBC is still in talks with Samsung, Dow and Panasonic. NBC Sports also had success in selling advertising beyond Olympic sponsors. It has closed a deal with Carnival Cruises, GM, several movie studios, retailers and technology companies, Winter said. NBC’s new approach to digital sales also boosted its advertising sales total. Winter said NBC decided to limit the number of digital advertisers it will have to 16 in large part because it has less video content available online for Sochi, which has just eight sports, than it did for London, which featured 28 sports. But having less inventory helped boost demand for digital advertising, and NBC was able to sell out of those 16 positions quickly. Only TV buyers who hit a “certain threshold” made the list of 16 advertisers, Winter said, and as a result, they will benefit from less advertising clutter on (Mickle). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Matthew Futterman notes Winter "described the move by Anheuser Busch InBev as 'a shock' since sports has played such a central role in the company's marketing strategy." Meanwhile, NBC could face "record production costs for the Sochi production, offsetting the strong ad sales" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/16).

Boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. tops SI's Fortunate 50 list for the second consecutive year, as he will earn at least $90M after “just two bouts this year, one earlier this month and the other scheduled for September," according to Daniel Roberts of SI. The $90M figure is also "conservative," as he could make as much as $128M. The May 4 welterweight title bout against Robert Guerrero brought Mayweather a guaranteed purse of $32M, with his PPV cut "yielding at least" another $13M. There are “other notable shifts this year,” with Heat F LeBron James (No. 2) passing Lakers G Kobe Bryant (No. 4). Tiger Woods (No. 5) is “back above" Phil Mickelson (No. 6) -- thanks to $4M more in tour winnings. Findings consist solely of salary, winnings, bonuses and endorsements. SI consulted players’ associations, tour records, online databases, agents and media reports. Endorsement estimates come from a stable of marketing execs, agents and other experts, including Burns Entertainment & Sports Marketing. Candidates for the Fortunate 50 must be U.S. citizens or play in a U.S.-based league. Endorsements reflect current deals, and salaries are based on current or most recently completed seasons. For auto racing and tennis, prize money came from the '12 calendar year. Golf earnings are from July 1, 2012 through April 21, 2013. Boxing purses are from August '12 through May '13 (SI, 5/20 issue).

1 Floyd Mayweather Jr.
2 LeBron James
3 Drew Brees
4 Kobe Bryant
5 Tiger Woods
6 Phil Mickelson
7 Derrick Rose
8 Peyton Manning
9 Alex Rodriguez
10 Zack Greinke
11 Dwyane Wade
12 Kevin Durant
13 Johan Santana
14 Felix Hernandez
15 Vincent Jackson
16 Carmelo Anthony
17 Cliff Lee
18 Mario Williams
19 Derek Jeter
20 Joe Mauer
21 Carl Nicks
22 CC Sabahia
23 Prince Fielder
24 Amar'e Stoudemire
25 Ryan Howard
26 Tim Lincecum
27 Matt Schaub
28 Mark Teixeira
29 Calvin Johnson
30 Matt Kemp
31 Dwight Howard
32 Vernon Wells
33 Chris Paul
34 Adrian Gonzalez
35 Dirk Nowitzki
36 Miguel Cabrera
37 Pau Gasol
38 Justin Verlander
39 Roy Halladay
40 Matt Cain
41 Barry Zito
42 Carl Crawford
43 Joe Johnson
44 Cole Hamels
45 Joey Votto
46 Albert Pujols
47 Chris Bosh
48 Eli Manning
49 Dale Earnhardt Jr.
50 Alfonso Soriano

NO FAIR-WEATHER COMPANIES ALLOWED: SI’s L. Jon Wertheim notes Mayweather, who currently has no endorsement deals, is a “good-looking guy” and at the “top” of his sport. He asked Mayweather, “Are you surprised more endorsements haven’t come your way?” Mayweather replied, “Not having endorsements, that don't define who I am. I look at the situation like this: Look at every athlete that has a large, long-term endorsement and tell me, have they been at the top longer than me and have they accomplished what I've accomplished? You look at certain guys, they got certain cases, they take a lot of losses and Nike endorsed them. Like I said before, I'm not just any athlete. I feel like I deserve to get the line this year. So I'm not saying that I don't want to be with Nike. I'm not saying I don't want to be with Adidas or Reebok or Under Armour or nothing like that, no Pepsi or Coca-Cola, but you got to pay. You have to pay.” Mayweather served two months in prison last summer and he said, “I got different offers and huge deals when I was locked up, with CEOs from different companies writing me, wanting to do business with me, Fortune 500 companies wanting to do business with me. But my main focus was just coming home and being free” (SI, 5/20 issue).

CHANGING OF THE GUARD: SI’s Roberts cited experts who said that endorsement contracts “are undergoing a major shift, and it's due to scandal.” Harvard sports law professor Peter Carfagna said, "This whole industry has changed because of ... Lance Armstrong, not so much Tiger or other scandals. He had federal sponsors, like the postal service, and what recourse do they have when it is alleged, now, that he fraudulently induced them at a time when he was doping. He must have given them some rep that he was clean." Roberts asked, “So how do companies now protect themselves when signing a deal with an athlete they believe is squeaky clean?” There are “often ‘clawback clauses’ that allow a sponsor to recoup its investments (even money they already paid a star) if they can prove that the athlete misrepresented himself when the contract was signed.” But that can be “difficult to prove.” In the wake of “so many high-profile athlete scandals, the balance of the reps and warranties are shifting in favor of the companies.” Morals clauses “aren't new, either, but they are getting far stricter.” As long as the company “can prove that the athlete's actions caused disrepute for the company, they can terminate a contract without being sued” (, 5/15).

ON THE MARKET: NATIONAL FOOTBALL POST’s Jack Bechta, who is an active NFL agent, noted agents "will tell you that one of the biggest issues we have with our clients is setting their expectations for off-field endorsements and income opportunities.” Many NFL players “just don’t get the facial recognition that their counterparts get in baseball and basketball” because of the helmet as part of their uniforms. If NFL players are not the QB and “not constantly talking to the media after every game or practice, you won’t garner household face recognition.” And thus, they "won't get the endorsements.” Meanwhile, the chances of a great player on a losing team signing "national endorsements are slim,” while for a “great player on a bad team in a small market, they are worse.” Players have to “be patient and take their time in building relationships with a company’s decision-makers.” They also must “work at building a brand identity by giving a lot of themselves in the community, with charities and the media” (, 5/15).

Red Sox DH David Ortiz is "selling bats emblazoned with his colorful ode to Boston after the Marathon bombings to raise money for the victims," according to Marie Szaniszlo of the BOSTON HERALD. Fans can "choose a Marucci bat that says, 'Nobody’s going to dictate our freedom!' or 'This is our (expletive) city!' -- words he famously said during a pregame ceremony, broadcast live on television at the team’s first game back at Fenway Park after the attacks." An unsigned bat on the website "costs $125, and a signed one costs $500." All net proceeds "will be donated to the One Fund Boston and the bombing victims." Alex Radetsky, Ortiz' marketing agent, said, “He knows how many people’s lives were changed tremendously. He wants to do as much as he can to help" (BOSTON HERALD, 5/16).

Stewart-Haas Racing signed State Water Heaters to an associate sponsorship deal. The agreement gives the commercial and residential water heater company branding on the No. 14 Chevy driven by Tony Stewart and the No. 39 Chevy driven by Ryan Newman. State Water Heaters also becomes the primary sponsor of the No. 39 team at Martinsville Speedway this October. Stewart-Haas Racing still has six races to sell on the No. 39 car and six races to sell on the No. 14 car.