TAKING A DIFFERENT APPROACH: USGA President Glen Nager formally announced the program during a press conference this morning and acknowledged the campaign is "different," but he hopes it will be "effective in mobilizing the golf community to be a part of the solution" to the pace-of-play problem. Nager: "Particularly if you, the media, will embrace it, support it and promote it.” Golf Channel’s Arron Oberholser said the USGA has "attacked this problem the right way." Oberholser: "It’s basically a public call to action, which I think is a great idea, getting it out there especially with the iconic names they’ve put up there” (“Live From the U.S. Open,” Golf Channel, 6/12).
Marketing and Sponsorship
The Bruins-Blackhawks Stanley Cup Final opens tonight, and the matchup of two Original Six teams has the NHL, its licensees and retailers optimistic even after the lockout-shortened season. “With a long series, I could easily see this being one of our top five (championship) hot markets," said NHL Exec VP/Marketing Brian Jennings. Aside from being the first Final matchup between original NHL franchises since '79, retailers and the league are reporting that both the Bruins and Blackhawks were not only the top sellers during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but sales for each team’s licensed goods are ahead of the same period during their recent Stanley Cup victories. The Bruins won the Cup in '11 with the Blackhawks claiming it the year before, and both teams at that time broke long droughts without a championship. But Fanatics.com reports that both teams are out performing their last run. Sales of Blackhawks-licensed gear have increased more than 200% compared to '10; while sales of Bruins-licensed goods have increased more than 300% from two years ago. "In the case of both teams, what you’re seeing is that after those earlier Cup runs, there are just a lot more fans on board, even before the final round," said Jennings, noting playoff per caps are up 12% over last year’s playoffs. Coming after a lockout cancelled 41% of regular-season games -- meaning there were no NHL games during the critical holiday sales period -- that is welcome news for NHL licensees and retailers. Fanatics.com’s five top-selling NHL products during the playoffs are all from NHL master apparel licensee Reebok. They are the Bruins Eastern Conference Champions gray T-shirt; the Bruins Eastern Conference Championship black T-shirt; the Blackhawks Western Conference Champions red T-shirt; the Bruins Conference Champions flex cap; and a Blackhawks Conference Champions gray T-shirt.
RETAILERS GETTING IN ON THE ACTION: Retailers with Final programs include Dick’s Sporting Goods, which will host a fan event at its Lombard, Ill., store Saturday in conjunction with Game 2. It will include street teams, an organist and an autograph signing with former Blackhawks C Jeremy Roenick. Modell's is opening two pop-up locations in downtown Boston, exclusively selling Bruins and Stanley Cup Final merchandise . Meanwhile, the Blackhawks will open a Stanley Cup merchandise kiosk in the Marriott Downtown on the Magnificent Mile tomorrow morning, which will remain open for the duration of the series. The team also for the first time will utilize a functional moving truck, like a food truck, that will travel to sponsors and local events on off days and will be in use on game days.
The Patriots “wasted no time capitalizing on one of the NFL’s most marketable players,” as they offered fans “a chance to preorder" a jersey of QB Tim Tebow just moments after he officially signed with the team yesterday, according to Callum Borchers of the BOSTON GLOBE. The team “declined to say how many jerseys they sold on the first day.” Tebow ranked “fifth in the league in jersey sales as a Denver Broncos rookie in 2010 and second in 2011 -- ahead of Tom Brady both seasons -- despite starting less than half of his team’s games during that span.” Tebow last year with the Jets “never started and threw only eight passes all season, but still had the 13th best-selling jersey in the NFL.” His Q Score last year put him "in the same echelon" as Heat F LeBron James (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/12). In Boston, Donna Goodison notes Forbes last month named Tebow America’s most-influential athlete and his status “may prove to be more of a phenom off the field than on, with more than 2 million followers each on Twitter and Facebook.” Sales were “expected to be brisk when the Patriots ProShop started taking pre-orders of his new No. 5 jersey yesterday” (BOSTON HERALD, 6/12).
CIRCUS SOLD OUT: In New Jersey, Tara Sullivan writes Tebow’s first day with the Patriots “quickly reminded us how differently New England will handle his presence than the Jets did.” Patriots coach Bill Belichick’s opening statement “didn’t mention his newest acquisition,” and numerous questions "didn’t elicit much more information as Belichick deflected inquiries about Tebow’s role and position." Belichick eventually "redirected the conversation to the rest of his roster” (Bergen RECORD, 6/12). In Orlando, George Diaz writes Tebowmania is “on life support, taking its last few breaths, while also sucking the air out of those incessant ESPN updates.” Belichick is “too crafty and controlling to allow the Tebowmania circus to pitch its tent in New England, just as it did in Denver and New York” (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 6/12). In Miami, Linda Robertson writes Belichick “won’t court the circus the way” Jets coach Rex Ryan did, and Belichick might even “kick the tent poles down, in fact.” Belichick may serve Tebow “with a gag order, so as to minimize polarizing comments" (MIAMI HERALD, 6/12).
Coca-Cola has signed four athletes to be the face of the company’s marketing campaign around the '14 Sochi Games. The company will feature figure skaters Michelle Kwan and Evan Lysacek, skier Ted Ligety and para-snowboarder Amy Purdy. Coke’s U.S. division featured six athletes during the '10 Vancouver Olympics, but that was in North America. Coca-Cola Dir of Olympic Marketing Dina Gerson said the company’s budget for athletes and Olympic marketing is flat from '12 and added that they reduced from six to four athletes because the latest batch of Olympians “resonated and will bring our program to life in the best possible way.” Coke will feature silhouettes of the athletes on cans and packaging ahead of Sochi. It also will create vignettes about them that will air on NBC and use them for appearances before, during and after the Games. The athletes will not be featured in commercials next year. The company evaluated more than 75 athletes and spoke to the USOC, NGBs, agents and media before making its selections. Gerson said that Coca-Cola chose to work with two figure skaters, a skier and a snowboarder because those are the most popular sports in the Games. Gerson said, “When we took a look at what the consumer was watching, skiing and skating, and the athletes who embodied Coca-Cola athletes, this felt right and the perfect fit.” Kwan is the first Olympic legend Coke has worked with, Gerson said. She added that they chose Kwan because she will be available before and during the Games for appearances and events. Gerson: “Right before the Games, a lot of these athletes can’t partner with us in specific ways because they’re so focused on making the team. We wanted a legend to balance it out.”
The Cowboys and Nationwide Insurance announced a new partnership that will debut on Aug. 24, with Nationwide serving as the presenting sponsor of the team's preseason game against the Bengals. In addition to media, on-site activation, branding and hospitality at Cowboys Stadium will be seen at various points throughout the season. Nationwide has signed DE DeMarcus Ware to a personal services agreement, and he will be featured in Cowboys-themed radio, digital and print advertising (Nationwide). Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Nationwide spokesperson Becky Cox said that the agreement is "for three years, with two one-year options for renewal." Cox added that Nationwide's "presence will be front and center at Cowboys’ home games, with ads throughout the stadium and an area in its Game Day Plaza." In Columbus, Amy Friedenberger notes the plaza is "home to pre-game food sales and music, and the first 50,000 people entering the stadium for the season opener will receive a giveaway item that hasn’t yet been chosen." Nationwide has "long engaged in sports marketing, including sponsoring" the NASCAR Nationwide Series and the PGA Tour Memorial (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 6/12). Ware was at the press conference yesterday and did a "bang-up job of singing the 'Nationwide is on your side' jingle" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 6/11).
The Univ. of Arizona’s new facemask design on its football helmet “has taken hold of the collective attention of the college football world,” according to Matt Swartz of FOXSPORTSARIZONA.com. A picture of an Arizona helmet “with the traditional block ‘A’ embedded in the facemask started circulating on Twitter on Sunday,” and the image has “generated a whole lot of conversation.” BadAss Masks Founder & Owner Alan MacFerran, who designed the facemask, said, “So far, it’s been polarizing. People either love it or they don’t love it.” He added, “They’re (real facemasks), but they’re for display models. That Arizona ‘A’ is not gonna be on the field.” The university confirmed that the helmets “were not being considered for on-field use -- not yet, anyway -- with a spokesperson saying there was ‘no chance’ of them seeing the field.” But there has been “no official statement on exactly what the helmets featuring the new facemasks will be used for.” One possibility is “prominent placement in the brand-new Lowell-Stevens Football Facility, which will open this year as part of a massive renovation project at Arizona Stadium.” One obstacle is “getting the facemasks certified by NOCSAE, the standard safety certifier for athletic equipment such as helmets.” MacFerran’s goal is “to get his facemasks more widely distributed and on the field -- both college and professional -- in the near future” (FOXSPORTSARIZONA.com, 6/10).
In Miami, Douglas Hanks notes Heat F LeBron James’ new deal with China-based Internet service provider Tencent “gives James another foothold into the lucrative Chinese market.” James already is “a paid endorser for Dunkin’ Donuts in Asia, but the agreement with Tencent puts James front and center with a company operating solely in the Chinese marketplace.” Forbes recently estimated that James earned $18M playing basketball in '12 and $42M from endorsements, and while the U.S. market “dominates that income stream, experts see growing Chinese affluence and prosperity as the future for growing endorsement dollars” (MIAMI HERALD, 6/12).
OPTIONS ACTION: In Chicago, Bruce Blythe notes the city’s “major exchange companies, CME Group and the Chicago Board Options Exchange, advertise rink side” at Blackhawks games in United Center. The CBOE-Blackhawks pairing “began in 2008, when the exchange became a ‘presenting sponsor’ with the team.” The agreement “includes a trading component, with two ‘CBOE seats’ on the glass at center-ice auctioned online to the highest bidder before each game” (CHICAGOGRID.com, 6/12).
HOT CORNER, HOT PIZZA: In St. Louis, Joe Holleman notes Cardinals 3B David Freese “has inked a three-year deal as the main spokesman” for local chain Imo’s Pizza. An Imo’s spokesperson said that Freese will appear in TV, radio, print and digital ads, which “should debut in a month.” Imo's also “will donate $10,000 to Variety, the Children’s Charity of St. Louis, in conjunction with Freese” (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 6/12).
ON THE CATWALK: GQ's Oliver Franklin reports Nike “has revealed the kit" that Roger Federer will be wearing during Wimbledon and the outfit includes a “monogrammed Nike Premier RF crew.” What is not in the ensemble is “Fed's signature trim in favour of a classic white-and-orange colourway.” But Franklin added he would not "be surprised if the gold makes a comeback" if Federer win an eighth Wimbledon title (GQ-MAGAZINE.co.uk, 6/13).