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Volume 24 No. 156

Marketing and Sponsorship

Longtime America's Cup sponsor Louis Vuitton, the "posh French retailer that has been a primary financial backer of the competition," wants $3M of its spend refunded "because so few teams have entered," according to Eric Young of the S.F. BUSINESS TIMES. A source said that the company's "initial sponsorship" was for $10M. Its contract was "based on at least eight teams taking part in the Louis Vuitton Cup, a round-robin playoff to determine which team will ultimately sail against Oracle Team USA in the America’s Cup championship." There currently are "three teams entered into the Louis Vuitton Cup." The source said that Louis Vuitton can get a $1M rebate "for each team less than six that participate." The company has "been a Cup sponsor for 30 years." Louis Vuitton "briefly dropped its sponsorship of the Cup in 2007, saying that commercialism had overtaken the competition." The company then "renewed its sponsorship of the Cup" in '10 after Oracle Racing won the event (, 7/10). Louis Vuitton Cup Founder Bruno Trouble said of the brand's sponsorship deal, "There were no provisions for anything less than five because we did not expect that would happen. It is worse than we thought." America's Cup Event Authority CEO Stephen Barclay said that the "bickering and brinkmanship was hurting the sponsors." In New Zealand, Dana Johannsen noted sponsors have "already had to scale back their hospitality plans after America's Cup officials were forced to revise the racing schedule as part of the list of safety recommendations put forward in the wake of the death of Artemis sailor Andrew Simpson" (NEW ZEALAND HERALD, 7/9).

CITY ON THE HOOK? In S.F., Matier & Ross note the city could "be on the hook" for at least $8M million in losses from hosting America's Cup. Mayor Ed Lee was asked about the "private fundraising meant to defray the city's costs for hosting the event." He responded, "It's a challenge -- I have to admit it." It "hasn't helped that the Italian entry sat out the first race of the preliminary competition in a protest over safety rules -- leaving New Zealand's entry as the lone boat racing in the opening round." Private fundraising even before the "latest PR snafu" had "fallen well short" of the $22M pledged by the city. The Mayor's OneSF Committee since taking over the stalled fundraising has "raised about $600,000." However, half of that "went to race organizers and doesn't count against the city's pledged contribution." Lee's office said that if the fundraising "comes up short, the city will probably make up its losses from the extra hotel and other tax revenue generated from hosting the races" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 7/11).

In its first year as an MLB corporate sponsor, T-Mobile is using next week's All-Star Game and associated events to help launch a series of technology, pricing and packaging initiatives that the company is calling "Our Boldest Moves Yet." Announced yesterday in N.Y. by senior T-Mobile execs was the expansion of its 4G LTE network to cover 157 million people in 116 metro areas; JUMP (Just Upgrade My Phone) a new program allowing up to two phone upgrades a year, instead of the standard two years; and a new four-line family plan, priced at $100 monthly. The moves continue the challenger brand's "uncarrier" positioning. "We are redefining a stupid, broken, arrogant industry," said T-Mobile CEO John Legere. Of course, every sports property wants its marketing partners to use its big events as launch platforms. “When you look at how T-Mobile is leveraging a big marketing initiative by using one of our jewel events and doing it in the country’s biggest market, you can see it is smart and something both parties will benefit from," said MLB Exec VP/Business Tim Brosnan. New ads from Publicis supporting the JUMP offering and an ad with Dodgers 1B Adrian Gonzalez supporting the family plan will run during ESPN's coverage of the Chevy Home Run Derby Monday night and Fox' MLB ASG telecast Tuesday.

BIG PLANS DURING GAME BROADCAST: T-Mobile has three ads scheduled to run during the ASG along with a live, branded in-game feature. T-Mobile VP/Media & Sponsorships Mike Belcher said the carrier hopes to use the time for an interview with one of its four MLB endorsers (Gonzalez, Nationals RF Bryce Harper, Dodgers CF Matt Kemp and Pirates CF Andrew McCutchen) to illustrate that they have "made the jump" to being an All-Star. There also is a significant buy across local print and ESPN The Magazine, a large presence on and and a "takeover" on the No. 7 subway line, which services ASG host site Citi Field. Pop-up stores also will be erected at the T-Mobile-entitled Fan Fest and at Citi Field. During the game, 30 people in a randomly selected row of seats will win Samsung smart phones, a promo that will be touted on the Citi Jumbotron. A team of 50 T-Mobile employees will run in Saturday's ASG 5K Run in Brooklyn. "This is the coming-out party for our MLB relationship, so we'll really be looking at awareness of our sponsorship, awareness of JUMP, and purchase-intent measures, especially among avid MLB fans, when we measure our efforts around All-Star Week," said Belcher.

Third-year MLB sponsor Head & Shoulders is continuing its “Season of the Whiff” marketing campaign with a strikeout stunt during Tuesday’s MLB All-Star Game. As an in-game enhancement supporting its Head & Shoulders with Old Spice extension, the brand is offering a $1M donation to MLB’s RBI program if any pitcher strikes out the side during the second inning of the game. This has happened only twice -- Carl Hubbell famously whiffed five consecutive HOFers in '34, while Pedro Martinez struck out five of the six batters he faced in '99. Head & Shoulders throughout the '13 season is donating $1 to RBI for every MLB strikeout. Its baseball-themed TV ads this season feature Angels P C.J. Wilson and LF Josh Hamilton.

Kimberly-Clark’s Depend brand is "using an inaugural sponsorship of the ESPN Espy awards on July 17 to put a capstone on its 'Great American Try-On' campaign," according to Karl Greenberg of MARKETING DAILY. The campaign is a "consumer participation event to tout Depend Real Fit for Men and Silhouette for Women briefs." The second chapter of the campaign started in April "with an online competition" in which Broncos WR Wes Welker and Cowboys DE DeMarcus Ware "started competing for online votes, with the high-vote player winning $50,000 for prostate cancer research." The new campaign benefiting the V Foundation for Cancer Research "includes a humorous TV spot about the vote-raising competition" that will air during The ESPYs. There also is an "in-broadcast segment in which, as part of the Espy awards, one of the two players will take the podium to accept the $50,000." Depend Brand Dir Liz Metz said that the "idea for the campaign was born from a need to demonstrate the flexibility -- literally and figuratively -- of the product by putting it into demanding situations few people would normally experience." Using athletes would "lessen the emotional baggage involved with what the products are all about" (, 7/9).

The opening match of the '14 FIFA World Cup in Brazil is 11 months away, "but Twitter is already mobilizing to sell lucrative ad packages pegged to it," according to Cotton Delo of AD AGE. Documents show that Twitter will be "conducting a blind auction overseen by PricewaterhouseCoopers to sell promoted trends later this month." It is the "first time Twitter has set up an auction specifically for a tentpole event and an indication of how it will sell scarce inventory connected to events like the Olympics, the Oscars or the Super Bowl in the future." Promoted trends are "the only ad unit that must be bought out for an entire market for a day for a flat fee." The last reported price to "claim a daily promoted trend in the U.S. was $200,000." But the four available World Cup packages are "designed to have global reach, meaning that the winner will own the day's promoted trends in 50 countries." The estimated value of that worldwide buy "by the time next summer comes around is $600,000." The winner of the auction "will pay the value of the second-highest bid plus $1." The combined reserve price of the four packages comprising 16 promoted trends is $8.16M, "which essentially represents the minimum Twitter will accept." The auction for the "gold" package is set to take place on July 25, while the auctions for the "silver" and "bronze" packages are slated for July 30 (, 7/10).

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