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Volume 24 No. 158

Marketing and Sponsorship

Tennis player Sloane Stephens has "agreed to endorsement deals" with American Express and Listerine, "underscoring her emergence as possibly the next star of American tennis," according to Daniel Kaplan of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. These are Stephens' "first major off-court deals, and they soon could be joined by timepiece and cosmetics deals that her agents at Lagardère Unlimited are negotiating." The agency "recently re-signed with Stephens for several more years." Each of the two new deals "will pay Stephens around mid-six figures annually over at least three years, presuming she stays in the top 20 in the WTA rankings." Listerine "will use Stephens as an ambassador for a program called HealthySmiles." TV spots will air during ABC's "Good Morning America" the weeks of the U.S. Open. Stephens "shot the Listerine spots on the set of 'GMA,' though they are commercials and not part of the show." Stephens' agent John Tobias said that American Express "will activate around her globally, in a broader deal" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 8/12 issue).

The WTA Tour is adding software maker SAP to its stable of sponsors in a new multiyear deal set to be announced today. SAP will initially provide data analysis for the WTA's players, with future plans to broaden to fans and media. “Currently, tennis stats are incredible basic,” WTA VP/Communications Chris Wallace wrote in an e-mail. "Things like first serve percentages, aces and return percentages are key stats but they don’t give players very much insight into how to adjust their strategy. The current stats don’t have anything predictive (i.e. on the deuce point, 2nd serve Serena, going [up the middle] 82% of the time.) SAP will add point by point information that will share patterns, trends and additional analysis." SAP will be adaptive and take on-board feedback from players, coaches, media and fans, integrating their feedback into their analysis, which is "something that competitors disregard,” Wallace added. IBM handles data analysis and production for the four Grand Slams. SAP will also be sponsor of the WTA year-end championships.

MMA promotion Resurrection Fighting Alliance has "scored a big sponsorship win" in signing a multiyear endorsement deal with adidas, according to Alan Snel of the LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL. RFA, which is an organization of 25 to 30 MMA fighters "aspiring for the big time in combat sports, will debut the famed adidas three stripes logo" at its fight televised by AXS TV in L.A. on Friday. Per the deal, the adidas logo will "appear on the RFA cage, competition mat, on cage fencing and bumpers and on all RFA promotional signage, graphics and digital platforms." All RFA fighters "will don adidas MMA gloves." RFA technically "signed the agreement with Double-D, the adidas Combat Sports licensors for more than a decade." RFA President Ed Soares "declined to discuss the deal’s terms, refusing to even divulge the length of the agreement." An adidas official said that RFA is a "better sponsorship partner than the established powerhouse fight organization UFC because the sports company wants to hook up with a young organization that has athletes on the ground floor of the fight game." Snel notes RFA is "like a Triple-A league or college football feeding young MMA fighters to UFC." Double D and adidas Global Sales & Product Development National Dir Raul Montolfo said that the new MMA adidas gear in the combat sports line "will include shorts and protective items such as shin guards" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 8/12). Double D Managing Dir Christophe Dessalles said that he "expected Adidas Combat Sports to take a role" with UFC, "but also focus on grass-roots efforts" (USA TODAY, 8/12).

IndyCar driver James Hinchcliffe will be "free to negotiate with teams for a 2014 ride by the middle of August, but in reality there are only two real possibilities" for him according to Jeff Pappone in a special to the GLOBE & MAIL. Hinchcliffe's contract with GoDaddy "expires at the end of the season but talking to its newish chief executive Blake Irving, it sounds like an offer to continue with the company is in the cards for Hinchcliffe." Irving said the company is “incredibly happy” with Hinchcliffe and its relationship with Hinchcliffe’s team, Andretti Autosport. Hinchcliffe’s timing "has been pretty good for Go Daddy, too, with his May win in Brazil coming as the Internet services company was in the midst of preparing for a move into Latin and South America later this year and early in 2014." He also is a "big part of the company’s plans to expand into Canada, although Irving sees him as someone who can market Go Daddy just about everywhere." Meanwhile, Hinchcliffe is "helping Go Daddy with recruiting after heading to Seattle this week to appear at a job fair where his backer hoped to lure software talent away from some of the companies out west, including Microsoft." Although his name has been "linked to some other series such as Formula One, the only other logical place Hinchcliffe could land is likely the Chip Ganassi outfit, whose long-time partner Target has just embarked on the largest ever retail expansion into Canada" (GLOBE & MAIL, 8/9).

Lakers G Kobe Bryant in a new Nike spot airing exclusively in China "explains his work ethic and process to kids at a basketball camp," according to Sean Highkin of USA TODAY. Bryant recently "took part in Nike Basketball’s Chinese tour, during which he gave campers pointers." In the ad, he explains "everything from preventing late-game turnovers to cutting at sharp angles" (, 8/11). SPORTING NEWS' Kami Mattioli noted Bryant during the tour "woke his players up in the middle of the night for a 4 a.m. practice to teach them a thing or two about mental toughness, and Nike turned the experience into a Mamba narrative" (, 8/11). Bryant in the spot says, "I think being up at 4:00 a.m. adds to the mental toughness. You start thinking, ‘Maybe this morning I don’t have to ... I can just shut the alarm off.’ That’s really challenging you mentally, having to get up and get out there and perform. That’s why I do it.”'s Ben Golliver notes the spot "wraps with a return to the mind games, sounding like a Zenmaster-in-training" (, 8/12).