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Volume 24 No. 156

Marketing and Sponsorship

Bridgestone yesterday announced that the company has signed a "four-year extension of its title sponsorship" of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational that will keep the tournament in Akron through '18, according to a front-page piece by Marla Ridenour of the AKRON BEACON JOURNAL. Bridgestone's previous agreement with the PGA Tour ran through next year. The Tour will "celebrate its 60th year of golf at Firestone" in '14. Tiger Woods, who won the event yesterday for the eighth time, said of the extension, "Every time they extend I win. I was telling the guy out there, they’ve got to do one-year deals. ... Let’s tear this thing up and do one-year deals and now my stats will be looking pretty good." Ridenour notes Woods won in '05 when it was "announced Bridgestone was taking over sponsorship from NEC starting in 2006, and in 2009, when a four-year extension was reached." Meanwhile, PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem "left himself a little wiggle room if Bridgestone executives want to consider moving the event to Japan after 2018" (AKRON BEACON JOURNAL, 8/5). Finchem said that the tournament is "expected to remain at the same weekend, although the 2016 schedule -- when golf will be in the Olympics -- still has not been worked out." He added that the IOC will "finalize the competition schedule in spring 2014, and the PGA Tour will work around the schedule from there" (, 8/4).

Jaguars merchandise with the team's new logo and color patterns are causing a "bonanza of apparel sales" at Jacksonville-area stores, according to Drew Dixon of the FLORIDA TIMES-UNION. Jacksonville-based retail outlet Sports Mania manager Jeff Fingland said that demand for the new Jags gear "had been ramping up" since the new logo, jerseys and helmets were unveiled in April. Fingland: "As soon as we get something in, it sells out." Though Fingland "admitted there's a lag in supply of the official team jerseys produced by Nike," the store is "hoping for a wider variety of team player selections of names and numbers before making a large order." Dixon reported the demand for Jags apparel "goes well beyond local stores." Fanatics Inc. has noted the "demand for the revamped Jaguars look has been extreme." Fanatics President Jamie Davis said that online orders from the Jacksonville market "have increased 600 percent at the Fanatics website just since the logo and uniform revisions were announced." That figure is up 350% for orders "from other locations across the nation" (FLORIDA TIMES-UNION, 8/2).

Tennis Canada’s new ad campaign is "part of a longstanding effort to get children involved in the sport, and it is doing so with a friendly jab at our national obsession" of hockey, according to Susan Krashinsky of the GLOBE & MAIL. In the ads, a "despondent little boy emerges from the penalty box, picks up a puck, and chucks it into the stands." A goalie "sighs as a shot glides pathetically slowly into her net." The tagline of the ads, which began airing nationally last weekend during Rogers Cup broadcasts, is "not every kid in Canada wants to play hockey." Tennis Canada is "trying to rebrand, using marketing to fight off the sport’s image as a hobby reserved for the country-club set." Tennis Canada data shows that 80% of participation "happens on public courts." Tennis Canada data also shows that only 24% of Canadians "age six to 11 have played the game." Statistics Canada data shows that tennis "does not even make the top 10 most practised sports among children." The new ad campaign "taps into Canada’s passion for hockey to grab viewers’ attention." Tennis Canada President & CEO Michael Downey said, "We know it’s going to get some attention -- and that’s good. We’re standing up for our sport." As Tennis Canada "continues its advertising, it sees an opportunity of courting new Canadians, from countries where hockey does not have as high a profile" (GLOBE & MAIL, 8/3).

Nike and adidas are "already rolling out products and preparing marketing and 'product activation plans'" for next summer's FIFA World Cup in Brazil, because when it "comes to an event of this magnitude," the companies are not "leaving anything to chance," according to Allan Brettman of the Portland OREGONIAN. The World Cup "may help decide who reigns supreme in global soccer sales in the years ahead" between the companies. adidas currently "holds a slight edge" over Nike in soccer and it is one of six official partners for the competition. Four of the top teams in the world based on FIFA rankings -- Spain, Germany, Colombia and Argentina -- are "clothed in Adidas-created uniforms," and the company also "outfits the Mexico national team, which Adidas says sells as many jerseys in the United States as does the Nike-outfitted U.S. team." adidas believes that La Liga club FC Barcelona and Argentina F Lionel Messi is ready to take David Beckham's "marketing mantle," and the company "plans to use the World Cup to get the marketing ball rolling" for Messi. adidas America Soccer Dir Ernesto Bruce said, "He hasn't really been marketed in the U.S." Bruce said that Messi will be "getting as much Adidas-generated exposure" as Redskins QB Robert Griffin III or Bulls G Derrick Rose, who are both fellow adidas endorsers. Meanwhile, Brettman noted Nike "so far hasn't been as vocal about its World Cup game plan." The company as the event approaches will "roll out new uniforms for the countries it sponsors." Those sponsorships include the U.S. team "as well as that of the host country." adidas and Nike officials "almost uniformly say they will be pulling the levers of social media channels to broadcast their World Cup soccer messages." Nike is "now the leader" on that score as its soccer Facebook page "has 19.5 million likes to Adidas soccer's 14.1 million; Nike soccer's Twitter account has 1.4 million followers to about 500,000 for Adidas soccer." Nike's YouTube video channel "boasts 715,000 subscribers to less than 165,000 for Adidas" (Portland OREGONIAN, 8/4).

HOPEFUL HAINER: The FINANCIAL TIMES' Roger Blitz reports adidas Chair & CEO Herbert Hainer is "predicting that sales" from soccer in '14 will reach $2.7B (all figures U.S.) compared to $2.3B in '12, with Latin America "enjoying a big boost." That "should enable Adidas to hit 2013 estimates of mid-single digit sales growth and expansion in earnings per share of at least 12 per cent" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 8/5).