A Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals three-judge panel today rejected Electronic Arts and the NCAA’s effort to dismiss a lawsuit brought by former Arizona State QB Sam Keller for allegedly using his image in videogames without his permission. The case can now return to a lower court and proceed, though EA and the NCAA could appeal for a hearing before the full Ninth Circuit. At the same time, the Ninth Circuit panel rejected Pro Football HOFer Jim Brown’s lawsuit against EA for using his likeness in the company’s videogames without his permission. The two cases, while closely tied and argued the same day before the same judicial panel, were argued under different legal theories. See today's Closing Bell for more.
Marketing and Sponsorship
Subway today announced that former soccer star Pelé has signed a multiyear deal to serve as a worldwide brand ambassador and join the QSR's deep roster of athlete endorsers. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Subway CMO Tony Pace said that Pelé will be featured in ads both by himself and with other Subway athletes. He will appear in Subway campaigns in multiple markets before the end of the year. Pace had been pursuing a deal with Pelé for a long time, having met the soccer star while a sportswriter covering the NASL N.Y. Cosmos for the Morristown Daily Record. Pace said, “The funny thing about marketing is everybody thinks it happens in an instant, but it really doesn’t. When we were thinking about what we were going to do way back when in 2006 (when Pace joined Subway), we were actually thinking of doing something with Pelé then.” Subway believes Pelé, who won three World Cups with Brazil and the ’77 NASL championship with the Cosmos, still has widespread appeal. “The great thing about accessibility of information in the digital and social age is people can say ‘Pelé? Hmm, who’s he?’” Pace said. “They can check it out pretty quickly online.” Pace added of the deal, "People might look at this from the outside and say, 'This is very different from what you’ve done,' and honestly that’s a good thing, because it shows another dimension of our brand." The deal was made through Pelé’s agency of record, Legends 10, after an introduction by MediaCom Sport. The Subway announcement comes as Pelé is making several high-profile appearances, including lighting the Empire State Building tomorrow, in advance of the Cosmos' return to the pitch Saturday.
Wells Fargo has signed a multiyear deal with MLS and Soccer United Marketing, marking the financial institution’s first sponsorship of a national sports league to go along with its numerous team and venue deals. The partnership will be announced prior to the AT&T MLS All-Star Game tonight in K.C. Financial terms were not available. Wells Fargo becomes the exclusive retail banking and commercial lending sponsor of MLS. Among other deal points, Wells Fargo receives MLS intellectual property, fieldboard advertising on nationally televised games and support from national broadcast partners and MLS Digital Properties (Christopher Botta, Staff Writer).
KICK THE CAN: EPL club Manchester United today announced a sponsorship agreement with PepsiCo in the Asia-Pacific region. PepsiCo will become the official soft drink partner of ManU in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Brunei. The company will hold exclusive rights to use ManU branding on its products and point-of-sale materials within these markets (ManU).
BUTTON DOWN: In K.C., Tod Palmer notes MLS Sporting KC D Aurelien Collin yesterday "debuted his labor of love -- AC78, a line of custom-made suits -- during a fashion show." The show was a "smashing success." T-shirts "promoting his line will soon be available at aureliencollin78.com." Collin and AC78 co-Founder Tom Paolini are "working on a ready-to-wear, made-to-measure line" (K.C. STAR, 7/31).
Intuit today is debuting a "contest that will award one small business with a 30-second Super Bowl XLVIII commercial" that will air in the third quarter, according to Rebecca Castagna of USA TODAY. Intuit, which makes products including TurboTax and QuickBooks, "recruited reality TV personality Bill Rancic" and Fox NFL analyst Jimmy Johnson "to promote the contest." Businesses "must have 50 or fewer employees to apply" and "can register at SmallBusinessBigGame.com." Leaders in the Intuit Small Business Group "will narrow the contenders to 20 semifinalists." Intuit's more than 8,000 employees worldwide "will then be asked to winnow the competition to four finalists." The company will "create videos describing each business and will post them" on the website. The public beginning Nov. 11 "will be asked to vote on which of the four small businesses they find most worthy" of winning the Super Bowl ad (USA TODAY, 7/31). The AP's Joyce Rosenberg noted the spot "will be created" by RPA, Santa Monica. The agency said that it "expects to create the same kind of high-quality production for the competition winner as it does for its big corporate clients." But unlike Super Bowl commercials that are "designed to make viewers laugh or feel intense emotions, this commercial will also have to be about the company and what it does" (AP, 7/30).
Gillette today unveiled plans for six weekly web episodes featuring NFL players at training camp. Produced by NFL Media, the episodes, which will run exclusively on NFL.com beginning this week, feature veterans tutoring rookies about training camp. The veteran-rookie pairings featured in the series include Broncos CBs Champ Bailey and Kayvon Webster, Steelers G Ramon Foster and OT Mike Golic Jr. and Bengals RBs BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard. The program is titled Gillette Clear Gel’s “Built for Training,” and will run every Tuesday though Sept. 3. Each episode is 4-5 minutes long. Gillette also will ask viewers to name their own exercises, and they can submit their answers via Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #BuiltforTraining. The top fan-submitted exercises will be compiled with the responses from the veteran-rookie pairings to develop a training manual. Gillette is a unit of Procter & Gamble, which is an NFL sponsor.
Cubs merchandisers are seeing "little relief as they try to sell jerseys of players heading out of town," with the team "long out of playoff contention and ... shuffling its roster in advance" of today's trade deadline, according to Matt Lindner of CHICAGOGRID.com. Wrigleyville Sports store supervisor Chris Strong said, "We’re always aware of (the trade deadline). Once we see that Cubs players are being moved around, that’s when we start to bring out the clearance gun." Racks of jerseys for former Cubs P Matt Garza and LF Alfonso Soriano "line the walls of Wrigleyville Sports, marked down more than 50 percent." An authentic Garza jersey now can "be had for $99.50 as opposed to $199.50 at the beginning of July." Strong said that he "isn’t sure how much money his store stands to lose as a result of this year’s trade deadline deals but ... it’s a significant amount." Clark Street Sports Owner Jason Caref said that his store "has no Garza merchandise and is down to very few pieces" for Soriano, "largely because he and his business partners hedged their bets." Caref said, "Every offseason, there’s rumors of them being traded. Between their performance and the Cubs performance, there was no reason to risk buying a bunch of Soriano or Garza merchandise the past couple of years. We didn’t lose hardly anything." Caref: "The merchandise pretty much goes at least 50 percent off when a player gets traded. Unless he’s really popular. It’s funny because Mark DeRosa, he wasn’t a big star on the Cubs but had such an appeal with the fans that we didn’t need to mark him down even after he was traded." Strong said of merch sales for 1B Anthony Rizzo, "I’d say he’d be the biggest devastating loss for us" (CHICAGOGRID.com, 7/31).
The "biggest schism" USA Basketball Chair Jerry Colangelo had to repair upon taking the role in '05 was the organization's role with Nike, according to an extensive look at the rebranding and rebirth of the organization by David Aldridge of NBA.com. Colangelo said, "The Nike relationship with the NBA had fallen apart. ... It was a matter of re-establishing a relationship. But I wanted to make it clear to them, this wasn't an NBA deal. This was USA Basketball. This is our own entity and brand. And that kind of opened the door." It "wasn't an easy sell with Nike, but ultimately, the company committed to a three-year deal." The hiring of Mike Krzyzewski to coach the men's national team also was made easier as he "had a strong relationship with Nike." Colangelo "knew if he got his foot in the door with Nike again, there was money to be made with them down the road," and "he was right." In the four-year period before the '04 Athens Games, USA Basketball raised just $9M, "with the NBA backfilling the costs." From '04-08, the organization raised $33M, and then $35M from '08-12. The organization then had "a who's who of corporate sponsors" by '12, including 24 Hour Fitness, American Express, Burger King, Cisco, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Gatorade, Jeep, Las Vegas Events, MetroPCS and Right Guard. Colangelo said, "We put together some really good partnerships. We have some heavyweights. And we have some pending that are new. Nike has stepped up not only for this quad, but they've extended through two other quads, going all the way to '24." Aldridge noted having Nike "was also a carrot for convincing players to come aboard." Nike gave USA Basketball "better access to" Lakers G Kobe Bryant and Heat F LeBron James (NBA.com, 7/29). USA Basketball today is also set to announce the organization will relocate its HQs from Colorado Springs to Tempe (THE DAILY).