The White House has “reached out to the NBA about a potential marketing partnership to promote” the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, according to Kyle Cheney of POLITICO. It is unclear “whether a potential partnership would put big-name ballplayers … at the center of ad campaigns or whether it would be as modest as permitting the administration to affix the NBA logo onto marketing materials.” The news was “revealed recently by Massachusetts officials who have been in contact with the administration.” The NBA season’s calendar “tracks closely with the six-month period during which Americans have a chance to sign up for subsidized insurance around the country -- beginning on Oct. 1.” NBA fans also “fit key demographics targeted by supporters of the health law.” Nonprofit organization Enroll America said that it will “reach out to professional sports leagues to help encourage people to sign up for insurance.” Cheney noted some “who played a role" in getting Massachusetts' health care law up and running -- and who "relied on the celebrity wattage of baseball's Red Sox -- have been advising the Obama administration’s outreach efforts” (POLITICO.com, 6/19). The NEW REPUBLIC’s Jonathan Cohn noted the Red Sox ads for health reform in Massachusetts, which were rolled out in '07, “have a certain legendary status in health policy circles.”The spots “leveraged the celebrity status of beloved sports heroes, not to promote the reforms themselves but to make two very simple points: Everybody can get sick and, for the first time, everybody can get health insurance” (NEWREPUBLIC.com, 6/19).
Marketing and Sponsorship
The Warriors this season became the first NBA team to wear adidas' short-sleeve jersey during games, and as many as five clubs will wear them "as an alternate jersey for as much as 12 games" next year, according to a source cited by Darren Rovell of ESPN.com. NBA Exec VP/Global Marketing Sal LaRocca said that all teams were "offered the option to add this jersey." He did not "confirm exactly how many teams have committed to it." adidas North America President Patrik Nilsson yesterday said that the company is "motivated to get more fans wearing jerseys, while also innovating the game jersey for the players." LaRocca noted that "part of the appeal of this jersey was to offer a different option at retail." However, he "doesn't expect it to outpace the sales of the current design of the league's jersey any time soon" (ESPN.com, 6/19). CBS Sports Network's Doug Gottlieb said adding more short-sleeve uniforms is about "selling jerseys, not about how good it looks." Gottlieb: "Of course, it works with their sponsorship with adidas.” Gottlieb and CBSSN's Allie LaForce discussed which teams would wear the jerseys, with LaForce suggesting the teams "with the new bad names, like the Pelicans or whoever the Raptors are going to be next?” Gottlieb said, "It’s got to be jerseys that are going to sell, that’s the big thing. ... It’s probably got to be kind of young, hip teams that are willing to try something that people will want. I think the Grizzlies are the type of team because they have a cult following, if you will. Maybe Oklahoma City, the Nets more than the Knicks would go with those types of jerseys” (“Lead Off,” CBSSN, 6/19).
NWSL Portland Thorns F Alex Morgan has become the "new face" of women's soccer in the U.S., and only retired player Mia Hamm has "experienced the whirlwind of mainstream stardom that is now sweeping up Morgan," according to Grant Wahl of SI. Morgan is a "fresh-faced scorer with limitless marketing potential." Her annual income has past the $1M mark, the "vast majority of it coming from endorsements" with companies including Nike, Panasonic, AT&T and Coca-Cola. Coca-Cola Senior VP/Sports & Entertainment Marketing Sharon Byers, when asked "what kind of company Morgan keeps" as an endorser, mentioned Heat F LeBron James and actress Jennifer Aniston. Wahl notes Morgan posed in body paint for the '12 SI Swimsuit Issue and walked the runway at N.Y.'s Fashion Week last fall. In the last two months she "took a one-day trip to Chile to shoot a Bridgestone tire commercial" and visited N.Y. again "for the release of her first effort in a three-book tween series" called "The Kicks." Western New York Flash F Abby Wambach, Morgan's teammate on the U.S. national team, said Morgan is "the face of women's soccer." Wambach: "Alex is taking on a different role (from mine). She'll have more of the mainstream popularity of being the pretty girl and being able to cross over to 15- and 25-year-old men -- the Mia Hamm-like qualities that touch millions. But she's not just a pretty face. So much attention on women in sports is based on looks, but Alex backs that up with even stronger athleticism. I'd absolutely compare her to David Beckham in terms of her appeal" (SI, 6/24 issue).
Anheuser-Busch InBev is "hiring BBDO as lead agency for Bud Light domestically, while keeping line extensions such as Bud Light Platinum at Translation, which had been handling the entire account since last August," according to Schultz & Parekh of AD AGE. A-B VP/Marketing Paul Chibe said the two shops will "work together on Bud Light." BBDO will "handle the account from its Chicago outpost, known as Energy BBDO." The move marks the "third agency change in less than two years for Bud Light." The return to an Omnicom-owned agency "is noteworthy as Bud Light severed ties with one of its longest standing agencies in history, DDB, in October of 2011." Despite the move, Translation's workload "remains significant." Chibe said that in addition to "line extensions, the shop will also keep the NFL advertising assignments for core Bud Light that the agency is already working on for this fall." Super Bowl advertising "will be worked on by BBDO and Translation" (ADAGE.com, 6/19).
SWITCHING GEARS: In S.F., John Crumpacker notes U.S. middle-distance runner Alysia Montano has signed with Asics after her Nike deal "was not renewed after the 2012 Olympic Games in London, when she was fifth in the 800 meters.” Montano, who initially signed with Nike, said, "The focus should not be on the dollar bill. It is nice to be compensated for your efforts." She added the Asics deal allows her to "support myself and my family without working another job." Montano has a “secondary sponsorship deal" with Red Bull” (S.F. CHRONICLE, 6/20).
CHECK THIS: In North Dakota, Brad Schlossman reported Silver-Medal winning U.S. women's hockey players Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux recently “signed a two-year endorsement deal with Nike to wear its products and appear at promotional events.” Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. The twins also “have signed with Chicago Sports and Entertainment Partners, a sports agency that primarily works with Olympic athletes” (GRAND FORKS HERALD, 6/19).
TAKING ANOTHER LAP TOGETHER: USA Track & Field has extended its partnership with Indianapolis-based St. Vincent Sports Performance through '16. SVSP since '09 has provided USATF athletes medical services at St. Vincent Indianapolis Hospital. The two organizations in the coming years will work jointly on social media promotions and will develop co-branded products and events (USATF)....USA Triathlon has signed orthopedic device firm DJO Global as a Silver-Level sponsor through '14 (USA Triathlon).
In Atlanta, D. Orlando Ledbetter reported Falcons WR Julio Jones on Friday went to California “to shoot a commercial for Under Armour” along with Texans RB Arian Foster. Jones said, “I haven’t seen the commercial yet. I don’t know when it comes out. We have to approve the commercial before it comes out” (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 6/19).
TECH CONNECT: In Charlotte, Erik Spanberg reported the Bobcats signed a three-year deal with locally-based Technocom Business Systems “to become the NBA franchise’s technology provider.” Technocom Development Dir Chris Caggiano said that the agreement “begins this month.” Terms were not disclosed, but the company “will have its logo displayed on the electronic signs inside the seating bowl at Time Warner Cable Arena.” Other elements include “access for the company to VIP entertainment areas, a Technocom office center at the arena to display various products and tickets for Bobcats games, concerts and other events” (BIZJOURNALS.com, 6/17).
BAREFOOT IN THE PARK: Heat F Mike Miller made a three-pointer during Game 6 of the NBA Finals Tuesday night wearing only one shoe, and ESPN's Tony Kornheiser called the shot "money, because he's going to get a shoe deal." Kornheiser: "A shoe company is going to say, 'We make sneakers so good that Mike Miller can't throw them off.' And he's going to get a sock deal. The sock company is going to say, 'Mike Miller wears our socks, makes threes in our socks and nothing else.' This is big money for Mike Miller" ("PTI," ESPN, 6/19).