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Volume 24 No. 116

Marketing and Sponsorship

Reese’s will be the new title sponsor of the Senior Bowl in a move that deepens the Hershey brand’s commitment to college sports. Reese’s also is an NCAA corporate partner and has several school relationships. The Reese's Senior Bowl, which is played annually in Mobile, Ala., and was first held in ‘50, went without a title sponsor the past two years. Previously, Under Armour sponsored the game as part of a five-year deal through ‘11. Reese’s deal kicks off with January’s game and runs four years at a cost in the mid-six figures annually. Hershey Dir of Promotion & Planning Drew Iddings led the negotiations on the brand side, while the Senior Bowl’s sales agency was Atlanta-based Melt. “We are confident that this partnership will continue to solidify the Reese’s brand’s leadership in collegiate athletics as well as honor student athletes who achieve success,” Iddings said. Game Exec Dir Phil Savage said he hopes the deal with Reese’s will “elevate our position in the sports business marketplace now and in the future." Reese’s will have some branding on the uniforms, in addition to the broadcast on NFL Network. Other activation elements could include point-of-purchase in retail, fan voting and NFL draft parties. The candy company's agencies, Optimum Sports and GMR Marketing, also contributed to the deal. Under Armour remains the game’s apparel sponsor.

Nike will mark the 25th anniversary of its "Just Do It" slogan tomorrow by launching an ad campaign entitled "Possibilities," highlighted by a 90-second commercial "featuring LeBron James and Serena Williams and narrated by actor Bradley Cooper," according to Jeffrey Martin of USA TODAY. The slogan is the type companies "hope for -- a quick line that becomes so well-known it works its way into pop culture." Sports Business Group President David Carter said, "It resonated far beyond what anybody could have expected." Nike, "for the first time, is using #justdoit on its social media channels." Yet the "ubiquitous tagline, which has thrived on being open to interpretation, has endured even as others have tried to come up with their own memorable slogans" (USA TODAY, 8/21). In London, Bianca London notes Cooper starts off the commercial by saying, "If you can run a mile, run a race, run a marathon, outrun a movie star..." The commercial then switches to "snapshots of regular people challenging the acclaimed athletes in sporting feats." Actor Chris Pine in one shot can be "seen running against a fan on the street with action movie explosions in the background, while in another sequence a high school student faces boxing sensation Andre Ward in the ring." The camera then "switches to an everyday table tennis player" who faces Williams in the U.S. Open. An amateur soccer player also is "seen being set up for a goal" by La Liga club FC Barcelona D Gerard Pique. James in the commercial "takes on a basketball fan and beats him with an almighty dunk" (London DAILY MAIL, 8/21).

SO OVER YOU: In N.Y., David Knowles reported U.S. pole vaulter Brad Walker has "begun selling every single item of Nike clothing he owns on eBay after the company abruptly halted sponsorship negotiations with the athlete because he taped over their iconic swoosh logo during an international competition." Walker said that the tape "was not a jab at Nike, but a means of keeping the shoes on his feet at last week’s world track and field championships in Moscow" (, 8/19).

NBCUniversal is "trying to widen the audience" for “SNF” with a series of promos that "burnish the pigskin showcase among not only sports fans but also celebrity-watchers and current-affairs aficionados," according to Brian Steinberg of VARIETY. The video vignettes, which appeared online yesterday and debut on TV this weekend in preseason NFL coverage, feature "various NBCU celebrities" all taking part in fake tryouts to sing the "Waiting All Day for Sunday Night" theme song. Celebs appearing in the spots include Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel, Joan and Melissa Rivers, Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, Al Roker, Natalie Morales and Ken Jeong. Country singer Carrie Underwood was selected in May "to warble the song." NBC Sports Group CMO John Miller said, "Our goal is to be as welcoming and as broad as we possibly can." He expects the new series of promos to "appeal to women as well as the usual male crowd that usually tunes in for football." Miller said that the promos will be "among those that get top priority among various NBCU networks." He added, "Because NBC’s Fall is now the cross-promotional priority for the company, and because SNF is the number-one show for NBC, it gets a certain amount of existing weight on all the channels." But Steinberg noted the company will "likely tailor the spots for the network on which they appear." The promos also are "likely to run" on NBCSN as well as Golf Channel. Miller said that the promo marks "the return of an original promo to draw attention to football." NBCU in '12, with its telecast of the Summer Olympics in full swing, "made use of a promo created" by the NFL. NBC Sports Senior VP/Marketing Bill Bergofin said that the only celebrity execs "couldn’t wrangle was Jimmy Fallon." He had to "decline owing to the recent birth of his daughter" (, 8/20).


Maria Sharapova's potential name change to Sugarpova for the duration of the U.S. Open was a "publicity stunt to divert attention from Sharapova's firing of Jimmy Connors as her coach days before" the start of the tournament, according to the N.Y. POST's Page Six. Sources said that Sharapova changing her name to her line of candy "was never serious, and just a stunt cooked up by Sharapova's team to steer public conversation away" from her dropping Connors. Sources added that the idea was "created to be shot down." However, Sharapova's agent Max Eisenbud denied that, saying, "We were considering this for a while, and (it) would have been very cool, but (we) just could not make it happen" (, 8/20).'s Courtney Nguyen noted observers "didn’t necessarily need the official denial to know Sharapova was never going to go through with this scheme." Nguyen gives three reasons "why this name-change was simply never going to happen." Sharapova represents several luxury brands, and Nguyen wrote, "You don’t spend nine years building up that brand profile only to decide to engage in some juvenile and hacky publicity stunt to sell candy." It also is "not a simple procedure." Meanwhile, Nike "would have to agree to put the Sugarpova logo on their kit." Most Nike tennis players are not "allowed to put any non-Nike sponsor logos on their Nike-branded kits" (, 8/20). ESPNW's Jane McManus wrote an "actual publicity stunt like that is beneath" Sharapova. It is "not as if she is trying to establish herself and needs a publicity bump." Sharapova's name "means something -- persistence and a will of steel, a single-mindedness that is both off-putting and admirable." McManus: "What is Sugarpova? It's the definition of selling out" (, 8/20).

AT LEAST SHE WAS BEING UPFRONT: The GUARDIAN's Marina Hyde writes there was a "certain admirable frankness to Sharapova's money-dash," and her name-change idea "would at least have the virtue of being honest." Hyde: "The sheer artless hilarity of Sugarpova would still be preferable to the stealth trolley dashes that go largely unchided. Do recall that amazing moment when Andy Murray won the US Open last year, and the unedifying spectacle of him appearing to celebrate it not by crowd surfing his way up to the players' box, but by searching frantically for his sponsored watch" (, 8/21).

The Breeders’ Cup has "hired Front Row Marketing Services to sell sponsorship inventory for horse racing’s annual championship event," according to Liz Mullen of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. The event has "seen a number of sponsorships, including deals with Grey Goose and Emirates, expire in recent years." It has "several endemic partners, including ExpressBet, the Daily Racing Form and a number of thoroughbred horse breeding farms, but its only nonendemic sponsors now are John Deere, Lalique and Mont Blanc." Front Row President Chris Lencheski said that the event "has a virtual 'clean plate' to sign new partners." Categories that are "open for sponsorship deals include airlines, automotive, banking and spirits." Breeders’ Cup CMO Drew Sheinman said that the event hired Front Row "after meeting with several agencies." Front Row is a subsidiary of Comcast-Spectacor, which owns Breeders' Cup broadcast partner NBC. Sheinman said that the company’s "connection" to the net was "a large part of why they were retained" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 8/19 issue). The DAILY RACING FORM's Matt Hegarty reported the deal "comes after sponsorship revenue for the Breeders’ Cup dropped 46 percent for the 2012 event compared to the 2011 event." Breeders’ Cup Senior Dir of Event Communications Jim Gluckson said that the event for the past several years has "attempted to reach sponsorship and marketing agreements using in-house staff" (, 8/20). In New Jersey, John Brennan noted Front Row's "past and present clients have included" the Nets, 76ers, Flyers, Eagles, Seahawks, Pocono Raceway, The America's Cup, college sports and pro golf (, 8/20).

In L.A., Nardine Saad reports in David Beckham's "latest wordless ad" for H&M, the retired soccer star is "seen behind the scenes modeling in a locker room, giving smoldering looks to the camera and smiling as his perfect hair is groomed as he models boxer briefs, tanks and ... long-sleeved henleys and pants." Beckham is "currently promoting his fall 2013 bodywear collection with H&M, with the ads set to appear on billboards and in magazines" tomorrow (L.A. TIMES, 8/21).

ADJUSTING THE AERIAL: Goodyear and ESPN's "SportsNation" to begin the college football season are giving fans a chance to control the Goodyear Blimp. Fans beginning yesterday could vote to decide which upcoming opening weekend football matchup will receive aerial coverage and be considered "Blimpworthy" from among North Carolina-South Carolina, Georgia-Clemson and Alabama-Virginia Tech (Goodyear).

STAR TREATMENT: In DC, Lindsay Applebaum reported after Redskins RB Chris Thompson revealed his "bizarre/delicious habit of keeping a Starburst in his sock during games," it was "only a matter of time" before the company offered him a box of the candy "as thanks for the free advertising." The company wrote to Thompson, "It never crossed our minds to keep candy in our socks, but we just might have to reconsider..." (, 8/20).

RE-UPPING THE DEAL: Upper Deck announced a multiyear deal with Hockey Canada to renew the company's memorabilia license as well as an exclusive trading card agreement for Canada's national teams. The company also announced that it will be the exclusive home of Hockey HOFer Wayne Gretzky's autographed memorabilia. This expands a relationship the company has had with Gretzky since it began producing licensed NHL trading cards in '90. Gretzky joins a roster of Upper Deck exclusive athletes that includes Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Tiger Woods (Upper Deck).