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Volume 24 No. 117

Marketing and Sponsorship

The PGA Tour and Travelers are in "contract negotiations to extend title sponsorship for the Travelers Championship beyond 2014," according to Tom Yantz of the HARTFORD COURANT. Travelers Exec VP & Chief Administrative Officer Andy Bessette on Monday said, "Yes, we want to extend it." He added, "We're going through terms and conditions. We're not only the title sponsor of the tournament, but also an official marketing partner of the tour, too. So that's two big agreements. We are just starting out to define what they need and what we need." Travelers has been the tournament title sponsor since '07 (HARTFORD COURANT, 6/18). Golfer Brad Faxon said, "Travelers was really the first title sponsor in the modern age to beef up players' services. The golf course is better, and the practice range is one of the best in the world" (HARTFORD COURANT, 6/19). Meanwhile, in Hartford, Jeff Jacobs writes the tournament has "become known as the place where a young golfer gets a sponsor's exemption to make his pro debut." There is a "long list" of players who have "debuted at Cromwell and remain loyal to the tournament." The legacy "continues every bit as strong, if not stronger with Travelers." Bessette said, "We're one of five hometown sponsors on the PGA Tour and for us it's about wanting to treat people like family" (HARTFORD COURANT, 6/19).

LOOKING FOR LOVE: In Edmonton, Evan Daum notes with CN "ready to pull its sponsorship" of the LPGA Canadian Women’s Open, Golf Canada and Tournament Dir Brent McLaughlin are "putting the finishing touches on securing a new sponsor for the first time in eight years." McLaughlin said, "We’re confident that the event is going to go forward and we’re confidently approaching a new title sponsor." He added, "We’re hoping that just prior to this event, or just shortly after this event, we will make an announcement." Daum notes despite CN not renewing its sponsorship of the tournament, the company "won’t be leaving the golf world entirely, instead opting to increase their support of Golf Canada junior golf initiatives, including the Future Links program" (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 6/19).

The business of basketball "goes way beyond the hard court," as the "real money is made off the court," as reported by ESPN's Darren Rovell in an examination of salary and endorsement opportunities for NBA players. The top players make the most of their money "out of their endorsement portfolio from shoe sales, and the basketball shoe business is exploding once again." Heat F LeBron James, Thunder F Kevin Durant and Lakers G Kobe Bryant "all make between" $10-20M per year from Nike, but off-court income is not just from shoe deals. Players now more than ever "are brands, raking in millions of dollars." Game Seven Marketing President & CEO Justin Leonard said, "This is the first time in the NBA's history that you've had this big of a number of players that you know are very marketable and are performing at such a high level." Leonard added a brand like Turkish Airlines signed Bryant because "for them, the most marketable athletes are basketball players." Leonard: "The NBA is obviously now a global game and when you're a company from overseas and you're trying to tap into that market, you're going to go to the top guys." Rovell noted basketball players have "become the new curators of cool, stepping up their fashion game." Leonard: "These guys are now brands in and of themselves. They like to tell their story on the court with their performance, and it's equally as important to maintain that personality off the court." The Britto Agency President & CEO Marvet Britto said, "What determines stardom for an NBA player is how he's able to leverage his on-the-court play with his off-the-court persona. Most players that are passionate and are able to differentiate themselves from other players tend to grow large, global brands" ("Nightline," ABC, 6/19).

FINE CHINA: In L.A., Jamie Wetherbe reported photos of a statue of Bryant in Guangzhou, China, "popped up on Twitter" on Monday. The statue "appears to be outside the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts' Sculpture Museum" (, 6/18). CBS Sports Network’s Doug Gottlieb said that the statue of Bryant is there because of Nike and the “power of the swoosh." Gottlieb said of Nike, “They were ahead of the curve in terms of investing in China as a place where you could sell shoes. ... China is where the money is. It’s an emerging market and Nike has smartly invested in Yao Ming and of course, Kobe Bryant and other stars go over there on a yearly basis. This is all about the power of the swoosh” (“Lead Off,” CBSSN, 6/18).

N.Y.-based Cloudbreak Group will "roll out a Notre Dame-licensed fragrance for the next college football season," according to Terry Lefton in this week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The firm, which made the Yankees' scent a $10M-plus retail brand since it was introduced last spring, "will introduce the Fighting Irish scent at the Notre Dame college bookstore in August." Pricing will be "$60 for a 3.4-ounce bottle" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 6/17 issue). Meanwhile, WDBJ-CBS' Orlando Salinas reported Masik Collegiate Fragrances has a new scent for Virginia Tech fans, and VT book store Associate Dir David Wilson said that the fragrance "should be out by the time school starts in late August." There is "no word on the price just yet" (, 6/14). NBC Sports Network's Michelle Beadle said of the fragrances, "Unless you went to school or you're buying it as a gift for someone who did, how does this even work and what does it smell like?" Sports on Earth's Will Leitch asked about the VT fragrance, "Does it smell like a specific school, like the agricultural school or the engineering school?" "The Dan Patrick Show" Exec Producer Paul Pabst said, "A hokie is a game bird and I don't know what it smells like, but I would assume you wouldn't want that" ("The Crossover," NBCSN, 6/17).