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Volume 24 No. 159

Marketing and Sponsorship

The Tiger Woods Foundation yesterday announced that Northwestern Mutual has signed on as title sponsor of the 15th annual World Challenge, set for Dec. 2-8 at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif. The event, recognized as an unofficial money event by the PGA Tour, features Woods and 17 other pros competing for a $1M top prize. It is co-sponsored by the PGA Tour and benefits the foundation's college-access programs. Northwestern Mutual was the presenting sponsor of the '12 event (Tiger Woods Foundation).'s Will Gray noted the '12 tourney was "conducted without a title sponsor." It has had "three previous title sponsors across its 14-year history, most recently Chevron, which sponsored the event" from '08-11. Without a title sponsor last year, Woods "reportedly stepped in to fund" the $4M purse. Though it "will not count as an official event" during the '13-14 PGA Tour regular season, the event was "added to the Tour's schedule last month" (, 8/14). In Milwaukee, Stacy Vogel Davis noted Northwestern Mutual has "increased its sponsorships in the last few years," most notably as a "major sponsor of NCAA March Madness" (, 8/14).

GE is the only corporate sponsor of the Olympics that is "pressing the International Olympic Committee publicly for action in support of human rights," according to Geidner & Maheshwari of The site reached out to each of the Olympic Games' 10 "marquee sponsors, as well as several other sponsors." While several companies "pointed to their own support" of LGBT rights, "few of the Games' key sponsors were willing to engage the IOC in any specific request for more action." A GE spokesperson said, "We expect the IOC to uphold human rights in every aspect of the Games." Panasonic "dismissed the notion of engaging on the question of civil rights." A Panasonic spokesperson in an e-mail wrote the company "has no involvement in, and is not in a position to comment on political and social matters related to the Olympic Games or specific governments in any country or region." An Adecco spokesperson's e-mail read, "We cannot offer comment at this stage." Neither Procter & Gamble nor Microsoft provided a response to a request for comment. Meanwhile, several major corporations said that they would "defer" to the IOC. Reps for Dow Chemical, Samsung, McDonald's and Visa all provided statements "that were similar to one another -- down to the adjectives used, suggesting coordination among the sponsors or directly from the IOC itself -- and which back the IOC's cautious engagement" (, 8/14).

In a move that "should come as no shock, officials from the SEC, Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences announced Wednesday that those leagues would no longer license their trademarks with EA Sports," according to Matt Murschel of the ORLANDO SENTINEL. The news "comes less than a month" after the NCAA said it would no longer license its trademarks to EA Sports. However, "individual teams from each of these leagues would still be available to use unless of course, those schools decide to follow suit and remove themselves for consideration from the game as well." There has been "no word yet if the remaining power conferences -- ACC and Big 12 -- will follow a similar path" (, 8/14). In Birmingham, Jon Solomon cited an survey of every SEC school and FBS conference yesterday "on whether they are renewing with EA" (, 8/14).'s Edward Aschoff wrote, "If the SEC isn't siding with EA Sports, it's hard to believe that it would work with another video game maker" (, 8/14).

SKY IS NOT FALLING: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Rachel Bachman wrote even if the plaintiffs in the Ed O'Bannon-NCAA case "got everything they are seeking, most Division I athletic departments would avoid catastrophe." But a "sense of alarm may be warranted on some campuses, particularly smaller athletic departments in large conferences" such as Iowa State, Washington State or Indiana. The plaintiffs are "seeking big slices of two main revenue areas, both tied to players' images and likenesses," as well as one-third of videogame revenue from schools and half of TV revenue, which to athletic departments like Ohio State is "gravy, and losing half of it wouldn't be crippling." A "worst-case-scenario hit" for OSU would amount to $12.4M in lost TV revenues, or "less than 9% of total athletic revenues." Small schools also can "breathe easy." If Western Kentucky lost $500,000 in TV revenues, that "would hardly decimate the Hilltoppers." But for a school like ISU, losing half of its TV rights money "would gouge 24% of revenue from an athletic department that runs on a break-even basis." These calculations "assume the plaintiffs are awarded the percentages they're seeking." A jury could "award a lower percentage, or both sides could settle for a lower percentage" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/14).

A comic strip titled "The Archer," highlighting Kent State RB and potential Heisman Trophy candidate Dri Archer, "made its debut on Twitter's @Dri4Heisman at midnight" Wednesday, according to Allen Moff of the Kent RECORD-COURIER. The comic strip, which will also appear in the Record-Courier and the Akron Beacon Journal, is "illustrated by Kent State University alumnus Chuck Ayers of 'Crankshaft' and 'Funky Winkerbean' fame." School officials were "searching for unique ways to promote Archer for the Heisman Trophy, and Ayers' name quickly surfaced." Ayers said, "Somehow they hit upon a superhero approach, and being a Kent graduate and a cartoonist my name came up." He said he met with Akron-based PR firm WhiteSpace Creative and they "had a basic idea, and we just kicked it around at the first meeting." Ayers added, "They said they'd put some words and concepts together for me and let me take off with it." Moff noted a "second comic strip will be released" next Wednesday, and game preview comic strips "will post on Wednesdays throughout the football season" beginning Aug. 29 (Kent RECORD-COURIER, 8/14). In Cleveland, Kevin Kleps wrote the campaign has been "incredible," as the school's push "includes a website, Twitter account and Facebook page." Those "are all typical components" of any national award bid, but a "comic strip, however, is not" (, 8/14).

The Digital Dashboard production studio is the "showy centerpiece of a recent revamping" of Hendrick Motorsports' marketing department "with an emphasis on social media and behind-the-scenes content to grow its audience," according to Nate Ryan of USA TODAY. Team President Marshall Carlson said that the "digital direction was driven by research and focus groups with fans who wanted more exclusive access rather than the news found on other sites." The reception has been "as strong from its existing and prospective sponsors (the team has space available on Earnhardt's No.88 Chevrolet) that have become more attuned to social media." Carlson said, "With the prospects we're talking to, that's a key selling point." The Digital Dashboard, designed by Hendrick sponsor Panasonic, produces "weekly snippets featuring drivers, crew chiefs, pit crew and team members that are culled from daily shoots" around the Hendrick campus. The content "surge has been reflected on the team's YouTube channel, which has enjoyed a 100% spike in 2013 page views." Hendrick also is "measuring the social media impact for sponsors by staffing the Digital Dashboard for at least five hours a day and supplementing it with statistics" from analytics company Simply Measured. Because sponsors can "quantify a return on their investment more precisely," marketing agency Engine Shop Head of Digital Josh Pelz "expects other NASCAR teams will expand their social media strategies." Reddit's NASCAR thread "received a 176% bump in traffic" for Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Ask Me Anything session "compared with an average Sprint Cup race day." Earnhardt said, "I think NASCAR is smart going in this direction. We're just scratching the surface. I think in 20 years, this is going to consume all your day, because it'll be a lot more portable with easier access, and that kind of communication will be as easy as taking a breath" (USA TODAY, 8/15).

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