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Volume 24 No. 157

Marketing and Sponsorship

While Heat F LeBron James is “king among those currently on the court, Michael Jordan remains the rock-star of endorsers," taking in $80M annually a full decade after retiring, according to Craig Davis of the South Florida SUN-SENTINEL. Even if James “closes the gap in championship rings,” Baker Street Advertising Senior VP & Exec Creative Dir Bob Dorfman “doubts James will catch Jordan in marketability.” Dorfman said, "Jordan has kind of got this mythological magic about him." While James “remains a polarizing figure, sports fans -- at least those outside of Cleveland -- are warming to him.” James’ Q Score has “increased ... among sports fans," while his negative rating, which had soared after "The Decision," settled to "about what it was" in '10. Schafer said, "I think he certainly has done a good job in repairing his image with sports fans.” Meanwhile, James ranks very low “in likeability among 3,000 celebrities on the Celebrity DBI.” James' influence as a celebrity is "comparable to Will Ferrell and Matt Damon,” while his rating as an endorser is "similar to Ben Stiller and Robert DeNiro.” James' image rehabilitation is "likely due in large part to his accomplishments over the past two seasons, but may also reflect how he comes across in commercials, such as those for Samsung's Galaxy Note II that shows a lighter side.” His popularity is “strong internationally with a new deal as ‘brand ambassador’ for Dunkin Donuts and Baskin-Robbins in China, Taiwan, India and South Korea.” He also will “grace the cover" of 2K Sports' "NBA 2K14." Dorfman said that an increase in James' endorsement earnings “may come more from expanding interests with his current sponsors than adding new ones, and may involve more in the way of equity deals than pitching products” (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 6/30).

DEARTH OF SPOTS: ESPN's Darren Rovell said Nike "knows that dwelling on those who won't ever forgive him for 'The Decision' means giving up those that are the fans of the greatness of LeBron." The company this year released more than 20 different versions of his LeBron X signature shoe, "most of which sold out." Rovell: "The rest of his endorsement portfolio, reportedly worth more than $40 million annually, has been strangely quiet. … James has plenty of deals with blue-chip brands, including Samsung, Coca-Cola, State Farm and McDonald's. But they haven't used James recently in TV campaigns. A deal with McDonald's hasn't produced any TV advertising since ... the fall of 2011. What is hard to understand is this: How was it that the only company running a commercial featuring James in the playoffs was this one by Beats By Dre?" Rovell noted that James' second NBA title "should put pressure on his current sponsors to use him more and it gives a greater sense of urgency for those companies sitting on the sidelines" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 7/1).

NASCAR yesterday announced a multiyear sponsorship agreement with power management company Eaton, making it the "Official EV Charging Solution Provider of NASCAR." The agreement includes the installation of 20 Eaton Level 2 electric vehicle charging stations at NASCAR's offices in Daytona Beach, Charlotte and Concord, N.C. The stations will power electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles of NASCAR employees and guests (NASCAR). SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Tripp Mickle reports Eaton under the agreement will "receive rights to promote its membership in the NASCAR Green program and be highlighted along with more than a dozen other NASCAR Green partners in a 30-second spot that runs every weekend during Sprint Cup races." Financial terms of the deal "weren’t available, but most NASCAR Green deals are valued in the mid-six figures." NASCAR Managing Dir of Green Innovation Mike Lynch said that the organization spoke with "at least 10 electrical vehicle-charging manufacturers before striking a deal with Eaton." He said that NASCAR will use the "charging stations to help promote the electrical vehicles its manufacturers -- Ford, General Motors and Toyota -- offer" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 7/1 issue).

Creative Recycling*
National Corn Growers Association
Eaton Electrical*
New Holland Agriculture*
Green Plains Renewable Energy
Green Earth Technologies*
Growth Energy
Libery Tire*

CHART NOTE: * NASCAR Green exclusive sponsors

TAKING THE GREEN: In Jacksonville, Don Coble wrote NASCAR has a "reputation for guzzling gas and wearing out a lifetime supply of tires in a single afternoon," but has taken a "turn to be friendlier to the environment" with its NASCAR Green initiative. Most of a crashed race car is "salvaged, either to be used again, sold to other teams or sent to recycling centers." Daytona Int'l Speedway last year "not only sent seven tons of empty cans to recycling centers, but it kept 99 tons of cardboard, 23 tons of steel and 28 tons of commingled mixed materials from clogging up local landfills." While DIS takes its recycling program "to an extreme, no other sports facility has taken the green initiative further" than Pocono Raceway. The track "has a 25-acre solar power farm." It powers the "massive speedway property" and also generates enough electricity for more than 300 homes. In all, NASCAR and its corporate partners will "plant more than 8,000 trees this year," and tire supplier Goodyear "recycled more than 120,000 racing tires last year." Driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. also "found a way to take tire recycling to a new level when he unveiled a new line of souvenirs that include patches of used tires on T-shirts" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 7/1).

EPL club Manchester United announced "a three-year sponsorship deal" with Thailand-based telecom firm True Corp., which will see the company's TrueMoveH "become the club's official mobile partner for Thailand," according to Adam Jupp of the MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS. TrueVisions, the group’s PPV TV operator, "will be the official MUTV broadcaster for the country." True Corp. will supply ManU-related content to its customers through 3G and 4G networks on its mobile devices. True Corp. "will also become an official associate match sponsor" for the Bangkok leg of ManU's preseason tour (MANCHESTER EVENING NEWS, 7/1).

Vikings DE Jared Allen and the Professional Bull Riders yesterday announced a partnership to benefit Jared Allen's Homes for Wounded Warriors (H4WW), the charity he established in '09 to provide new handicap-accessible homes and remodels to wounded veterans who served in either Iraq or Afghanistan. The PBR-Allen project officially kicks off with the PBR Built Ford Tough Series Express Employment Professional Classic on Aug. 16-17 at BOK Center in Tulsa. Allen has worked with the PBR since '12 as the owner of three bulls. The PBR and Allen will promote and produce several bull riding events as well as offer branded merchandise. Plush bulls representing Allen's H4WW PBR stock, T-shirts and hats will be part of the line which launches this fall in conjunction with the resumption of the '13 Built Ford Tough Series (PBR).  Allen said of TV spot for the effort, "There's 10 seconds right there where the announcer's talking about the foundation. There's 10 seconds where it's on someone's mind. Just putting it on the TV is going to be huge for us." The AP's Jon Krawczynski noted the foundation has a "goal of building three to five houses this year, but Allen hopes that this new partnership will increase that number to five to 10 next year" (AP, 7/1).

New Balance yesterday announced the signing of Cardinals C Yadier Molina and Dodgers P Josh Beckett, as well as the re-signing of Angels DH Mark Trumbo and Blue Jays P R.A. Dickey to multiyear endorsement contracts. New Balance will be the players' official on-field footwear and off-field athletic footwear and apparel provider (New Balance).

BANK ON IT: Salem Five bank has launched a new TV campaign featuring Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia. The humorous campaign stars an animated version of Pedroia, comparing his passion for baseball to Salem Five’s passion for banking. The campaign, via Connelly Partners, Boston, consists of two spots with the theme, “The World According to Dustin Pedroia.” The 15- and 30-second spots will run locally on NESN and Comcast cable (Salem Five).

ENTER SANDMAN: In N.Y., Augustine, Tasch, Coffey, Lorenzo & Red cited data that showed Yankees P Mariano Rivera “happens to be the hottest commercial property in the bigs.” A One Mo Legend Rivera T-shirt, which sells for $27.95, is the “top baseball seller this season, up 80%.” That figure is “a huge leap for Rivera, who hadn’t even been in the top 20 in recent years” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/30).

GETTING CARDED: National Sports Collectors Convention Founder & Exec Dir Mike Berkus said that at the group’s annual event, which begins July 31 in Chicago, inventory devoted to baseball cards will “fall to about 15 percent from more than half in the late 1990s.” In N.Y., Mike Tierney noted “illustrating the trend is the reduction in the number of manufacturers licensed” by MLB to “one this season, from five during collecting’s heyday, though at least two other companies still churn out cards.” Industry observers note that the “high-end vintage cards in mint condition continue to increase in value, drawing rather than deterring the well-heeled hobbyist” (N.Y. TIMES, 7/1).

ROUNDUP: Cooper Tire announced it is sponsoring nine MLB teams this summer, including the Yankees, Dodgers, White Sox, Braves, Phillies, Padres, Cardinals, Reds and Royals (Cooper Tire)....Angels RF Josh Hamilton has agreed to a mediated resolution of a trademark dispute with a Dallas-based entity over rights to the slogan “Play Hard. Pray Harder.” Raleigh-based company ScriptureArt last year launched a line of clothing inspired by Hamilton’s life and testimony. The line included T-shirts carrying graphical designs of the message, “Play Hard. Pray Harder.” Hamilton in ’08 began incorporating the phrase into his motivational speeches (THE DAILY).

In Lawrence, Matt Tait notes the Univ. of Kansas yesterday unveiled new football helmets which "feature five colors and two styles of Jayhawks." The addition of the helmets, for which "fans and players alike have been clamoring for years, gives KU as many as 20 potential uniform options on game days." A KU official added that the football program also would be "upgrading its uniforms before the start of the season" (LAWRENCE JOURNAL-WORLD, 7/2). 

SAY CHEESE: In Milwaukee, Tom Daykin noted Packers WR Jordy Nelson will be "featured in a new Wisconsin tourism TV commercial." The 60- and 90-second fall tourism spot will "star Nelson and his wife, Emily." Nelson also will "write a monthly blog during the football season for and make a personal appearance at the Governor's Conference on Tourism next March" (, 7/1). 

EURO TRIP: ADWEEK's David Gianatasio noted a new ad for the European Tour includes golfer Rory McIlroy "against a wise-cracking golf-ball-hitting robot." When a washer lights up and sounds like a pinball machine, the robot asks, "Is that the same noise you heard when you signed your sportswear contract?" The washing-machine imagery is "goofily memorable, but the video's four-minute running time feels like 40 minutes." McIlroy "giggles incessantly" during the spot (, 7/1). Golf World's Ron Sirak tweeted, "This European Tour video of Rory McIlroy taking on robot is hilarious. Nice to see him smile! Rory, not the robot!" (, 7/2).

EARNING POTENTIAL: In London, Nick Clark notes tennis player Laura Robson’s "off court earnings are estimated to be" between US$455,176-758,647. brandRapport Sports Marketing Dir Nigel Currie believes that after Wimbledon, Robson “has the potential to double those earnings over the next year," possibly into seven figures. Currie said, “She’s very young, good looking and very personable." Robson’s "big money sponsorship deals currently include Adidas and Virgin Active." Clark notes Robson "relies heavily" on Octagon agent Abigail Tordoff (London INDEPENDENT, 7/2).