Fox plans to air a 90-second ad touting Fox Sports 1 during the MLB All-Star Game next month, the "most extensive promotion yet for the new sports network" that is scheduled to launch on Aug. 17, according to Jeff Gluck of USA TODAY. Fox is "using more athletes, locations, days on set and money to film the ad than anything in its past." In a portion of the ad shot yesterday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, NASCAR drivers Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne "smack talk and bump into one another on the track." The rest of the spot "hasn't been filmed yet," but it is "tentatively scheduled to feature athletes who represent the other sports that will appear" on FS1. That includes Ravens QB Joe Flacco, 49ers LB Patrick Willis, U.S. women's national soccer team F Alex Morgan, UFC fighter Georges St-Pierre and boxer Canelo Alvarez. Fox Sports Senior VP and Head of Marketing Robert Gottlieb said, "In every way there is to quantify this, it's the biggest (commercial) we've ever done. We want to make a big splash with this." Gluck noted Academy Award-nominated cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth is serving as the Dir of Photography, while noted music video director Joseph Kahn is helming the ad (USATODAY.com, 6/12).
Marketing and Sponsorship
Budweiser yesterday announced a multiyear marketing deal with the NHLPA for the Canadian market, two years after the A-B InBev's Labatt brand "lost the biggest sports sponsorship in Canada" in the NHL, according to Susan Krashinsky of the GLOBE & MAIL. The deal was "already in play this past weekend, when a new Budweiser ad made its debut" on the CBC’s broadcast of Blackhawks-Kings Western Conference Finals Game 5. The "emotional spot features the parents" of Kings D Drew Doughty "talking about their pride in their son." The deal is "part of a shifting business strategy" for the NHLPA. Since Exec Dir Donald Fehr assumed the role in '10, the NHLPA "has been courting more marketing partners." Last year, it "partnered with BlackBerry to promote its PlayBook tablets." The union in '10 also "struck a deal" with Allstate of Canada. NHLPA Corporate Partnerships Dir Colin Campbell said that while some brands "choose to sponsor individual players, that kind of celebrity sponsorship is not the only way marketers can take advantage of a connection with players." He said that unlike the "type of high-profile deal that ties Gatorade with [Penguins C] Sidney Crosby for example, 'there is some cost efficiency' to a deal encompassing the roughly 750 players in the NHLPA." In addition to the Budweiser ad, players are "already being integrated into" Budweiser's Red Light campaign that sells "goal lights to fans that could be programmed to go off when their favourite teams score goals." Players including Flames C Mike Cammalleri already have "made surprise appearances at fans’ doors to deliver their lights." A-B InBev Media, Sports & Entertainment Senior Manager Jonathan Ritter said that there will be "more surprise visits in the coming days," adding that the brand in future "could do other promotions such as hosting a viewing party with players and select fans" (GLOBE & MAIL, 6/13).
Game 4 of the NBA Finals tips off tonight in San Antonio, and fans both in the AT&T Center and watching on ABC will not see any Sprint branding courtside as the Spurs contend with a minor sponsorship conflict. While Sprint is a league sponsor, the Spurs' arena naming-rights partner is AT&T. The NBA controls the courtside rotational signage during nationally televised broadcasts, but team officials said there will be no highly TV-visible signs featuring Sprint during tonight's game. “The NBA is very good at avoiding conflicts,” said Spurs Exec VP/Corporate Partnerships & Broadcasting Lawrence Payne. “We are allowed to protect a small number of clients, and AT&T is part of that.” Sprint signed a four-year deal with the NBA in '11; AT&T has held naming rights at the building since '02.
USGA Senior Dir of Licensing & Merchandising Mary Lopuszynski said this year's U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club "has been the most challenging" in terms of setting up the organization's sales tent, according to E. Michael Johnson of GOLF DIGEST STIX. Lopuszynski said, "Normally we would have a 36,000-square-foot pavilion. This year we have a main pavilion of 24,000 square feet and two other totaling another 12,000 square feet." She said of potential big sellers at the U.S. Open, "People love the wicker-basket logo. We'll sell close to 100,000 hats and about 60,000 shirts. We have some cool T-shirts with the logo and the four past Merion Open champions. We also reproduced the tournament program covers from the 1934 and 1950 as posters. We're reaching back into Merion's history" (GOLF DIGEST STIX, 6/12 issue). Lopuszynski noted that sales of other "golf-related paraphernalia were 'the best ever' in the four days the merchandise tent ... was open to the public" (WSJ.com, 6/10). She said that the U.S. Open's shopping pavilion in recent years has "taken in nearly $10 million annually, mostly from apparel sales." The USGA this year expects to "complete more than 100,000 transactions at the merch tent's 36 cash registers." In Philadelphia, Elizabeth Wellington noted the USGA "began working with fashion brands in August to design items that incorporate the 2013 Open's logo." Official USGA outfitter Ralph Lauren will manufacture about 20,000 items, including "polo shirts made from perspiration-resistant fabric in neons and navies, and women's plaid golf skirts with built-in shorts." Meanwhile, the Travis Mathew company has "incorporated graphic T-designs on polo shirts, a big deal in the golf world." And in a nod to golfer Rickie Fowler, New Era has designed "orange plaid baseball caps, which Lopuszynski expects will sell very well" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 6/11).
TIGHT SQUEEZE: SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Michael Smith notes the 110-acre Merion Golf Club poses some "unique challenges" for the USGA team in charge of "finding a home for all of its hospitality clients." USGA Senior Managing Dir of Business Affairs Sarah Hirshland said, "You just can't do everything you want to do on the golf course property. This Open requires tremendous creativity and a lot of cooperation from the community." Hirshland cited the "cooperation of the Haverford Township, Pa., community because many of the Open's hospitality clients will be partying in the front yards of homeowners across the street from the course." The USGA "struck rental agreements with about 10 homeowners ... to build hospitality structures in their front yards." Those "big white tents will line the street that leads to Merion's entrance." Only the USGA's "five corporate partners -- American Express, Chevron, IBM, Lexus and Rolex -- plus the broadcast partners, NBC and ESPN, will enjoy hospitality on the golf course itself." Those units will be "on the sixth an 13th holes, leaving the finishing holes clean except for the grandstands" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 6/10 issue).
The NFLPA yesterday announced the creation of “One Team Pride” shirts, an “LGBT-themed tee whose sales will benefit Athlete Ally, the group founded by former Maryland wrestler Hudson Taylor.” The union said that the shirts “can be customized with the player names and jersey numbers" for several current and former NFLers, including free agent LBs Brendon Ayanbadejo and Chris Gocong, OT Eric Winston, Eagles LB Connor Barwin, Raiders P Chris Kluwe, Ravens LB Terrell Suggs, Redskins WR Donte' Stallworth and former NFLers Scott Fujita and Steve Gleason (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 6/12).
SHOW ME THE MONEY: NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski appeared on ESPN’s “PTI” to discuss Forbes magazine’s list of top earning drivers. Keselowski, who was ranked 10th, said, “I’m pretty far down for being the reigning champion.” He said of moving up the list, “All I can say is I got to win more.” Keselowski noted, “I think if you look at some of the highest earners in the sport, whether it’s Dale Jr. or Danica Patrick or whoever it might be, the majority of their income definitely comes from endorsements,” and in order to be a top earner “you need to be a great endorser” (“PTI,” ESPN, 6/11).
GET YOUR MOTOR RUNNING: The Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL reports NASCAR driver Brian Vickers will sport Univ. of Louisville colors and a paint scheme "honoring the Cardinals’ NCAA basketball championship" on his No. 55 Toyota on June 29 in the Sprint Cup Series Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway. The UL mascot on the hood and Vickers’ red, black and white fire suit “will pay tribute to the school, located about 60 miles from the speedway” (Louisville COURIER-JOURNAL, 6/13).
CHEERS TO THIS: Titletown Brewing announced that it “will brew Lombardi Brewing Co.’s flagship beer, Lombardi Lager, this fall” to celebrate late Packers coach Vince Lombardi. Lombardi would have “turned 100 years old Tuesday.” The release is “just in time for football season” (PACKERSNEWS.com, 6/12).