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Volume 24 No. 113

Marketing and Sponsorship

U.S. Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius yesterday said that she is "in talks with the NFL to help promote new insurance options" under the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, according to Sam Baker of Sebelius said the NFL has been "very actively and enthusiastically engaged" in discussions about a partnership to encourage people to enroll in newly available insurance plans. She added HHS is "having active discussions right now with a variety of sports affiliates" about both paid advertising and partnerships to encourage enrollment. Baker noted HHS also is reportedly "in talks with the NBA to promote the law." Partnerships with sports organizations are "especially promising to HHS because the department hopes large numbers of young, healthy men will enroll in the law's new coverage options" (, 6/24). REUTERS' David Morgan reported the campaign is "expected to target 2.7 million younger consumers between the ages of 18 to 35, mostly male and non-white, whose participation in new online health insurance exchanges is vital to the success" of the program (REUTERS, 6/24).

Under Armour and the St. John's men's basketball program are "about to sign a blockbuster" six-year deal that will give the school a "package commensurate with those of the top five percent of Division I basketball programs that don't play full-scholarship football," according to sources cited by Lenn Robbins of the N.Y. POST. The deal will be "in the same neighborhood" as Georgetown, Marquette, Gonzaga and Butler. UA believes that St. John's will give it "big-time visibility in the biggest sports, media, financial and entertainment market in the country." UA only "outfitted three teams" in the '13 NCAA Tournament -- La Salle, South Dakota State and Temple. St. John's represents "a huge increase in exposure" for the brand. The school had been with Nike since the mid '90s, and was "one of the first six schools to get the Brand Jordan uniforms." But a source said that as the St. John's program "declined, Nike reduced its sponsorship." Nike under its current deal set to expire June 30 had "two weeks to respond to any offer St. John's received." A source said that UA "blew St. John's out of the water with its offer." The deal includes "sneakers, apparel, marketing money and marketing partnerships between the two entities," compensation for coach Steve Lavin, and additional money to be "used at the athletic department's discretion to fund scholarships, make capital improvements and for other options" (N.Y. POST, 6/22).

The Holiday Bowl has "parted ways" with title sponsor Bridgepoint Education after a three-year partnership, according to Stefanie Loh of the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE. Holiday Bowl Exec Dir Bruce Binkowski said, "They had the option to renew, but they decided to go in another direction." He added that the bowl has "received a lot of interest" as it seeks a new title sponsor. Binkowski: "We’re looking for a company that wants to be involved in San Diego. We think the new agreement with the Pac-12 and Big Ten opens a lot of opportunity for potential sponsors." Loh writes the Holiday Bowl hopes to "have a sponsor in place by the beginning of the 2013 college football season." Whatever deal they sign "will likely be in the low seven figures and paid out over multiple years." Meanwhile, the bowl yesterday announced it has "entered into a six-year agreement with the Big Ten, while also extending its existing contract with the Pac-12 for another six years." Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said that the conference "considers the Holiday Bowl one of its top tier bowls" (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 6/25).

Backers of a new pain cream called Rx Pro said that they will “soon be launching a campaign" featuring former NFLer Brett Favre, according to Don Walker of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. Favre said that he is "so sold on the stuff that he invested in World Health Industries, the Jackson, Miss., company that he said manufactures and markets Rx Pro." He recently “gushed about Rx Pro" during an interview on SiriusXM radio, saying that it "has given his body a new life." World Health Industries Sports Medicine Unit President Byron Barrett said that Rx Pro “contained no substances that are banned” by the NFL, though he declined to identify the ingredients. He added that he "believed it was FDA-approved." But FDA spokesperson Erica Jefferson said that she “could find no evidence that Rx Pro is an FDA-approved product.” She added that it was “possible the product was covered by rules governing over-the-counter external analgesics.” Walker noted the cream is “available only by prescription through World Health Industries' website.” The website claims that Rx Pro “fights inflammation, neuropathy and fibromyalgia.” Barrett, Favre, and his agent Bus Cook last month “formed 3 B Medical Group LLC in Mississippi.” Barrett said that Favre is “an officer of the company.” Cook is “the registered agent" (, 6/24). 

Actress Alyssa Milano last week announced that her Touch clothing line will launch NASCAR-branded women's apparel, and NASCAR will “begin selling her products next week on its website and it also will be available at the tracks on race weekends,” according to Bob Pockrass of SPORTING NEWS. The launch will feature “all female tops and the product line will include 10 drivers -- Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Danica Patrick and Tony Stewart.” NASCAR VP/Licensing & Consumer Products Blake Davidson said that gear of 25 or 30 drivers "could eventually become available and by next spring, the products will be available in stores.” NASCAR has been “working with Milano’s company for a year.” She will be at next week's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 “to help promote the launch.” Davidson said, “It’s product that is really, truly made for the female fan and it [is] more fashion oriented” (, 6/24).

Sony announced that tennis player Anne Keothavong during her matches at Wimbledon will wear microsized advertisements the company has dubbed microtising. Keothavong will be wearing microscopic ads on her fingernails, the hem of her skirt, shoelaces and equipment, which Sony says will be visible in its 4K Ultra HD format. The microtising campaign will last for the duration of Keothavong’s run in the tournament, with the company hoping to replicate the campaign at future sporting events filmed in the format (Sony).

THE OLD COLLEGE TRY: ESPN’s John Saunders said of the Ed O’Bannon v. NCAA lawsuit, “The NCAA has stood firm, saying paying players from the money they generate would ruin college athletics. But room, board, books and tuition are hard to reconcile against the billions of dollars the NCAA hauls in. That’s where they may be in trouble. There are laws in every walk of life that protect workers from being exploited and even if you don’t think that applies here, you can’t argue someone’s doing all the work and someone else is getting all the money” (“The Sports Reporters,” ESPN, 6/23).

MYSTIC PIZZA: Louisville-based Papa John’s on Saturday began offering limited-edition pizza boxes recognizing the Univ. of Louisville’s ‘13 NCAA men’s basketball championship. Red boxes featuring UL's cardinal mascot are available at select Papa John’s restaurants in the Louisville area (Papa John's).