With the U.S. Open going into day three, many sponsors are getting their messages out about ties to the tennis event. Fox Business’ “Markets Now” examined a number of activations at the National Tennis Center, with Grey Goose Senior Brand Manager Bryce Goodwin on Monday saying the company being a U.S. Open sponsor is "a perfect type of sponsorship because it allows (us) to really align with the world's best tennis tournament." He added, "It's also a sponsorship that allows us to sell our product. Not every sponsorship gives you both." Meanwhile, doubles player Mike Bryan said Esurance is "making us bigger with that tennis commercial." Esurance CEO Gary Tolman said spending marketing dollars at the tournament "really does pay off for us. It's really our target market and when we have opportunities to sponsor (Mike and Bob Bryan). That's really nice for us." American Express VP/Entertainment Marketing & Sponsorships Deborah Curtis said the U.S. Open "has always been important" for the company and "continues to rise in importance" as a marketing vehicle. Curtis: "We have such demand from our card members that it absolutely is a priority for us" ("Markets Now," Fox Business, 8/26).
GOING DUTCH: Heineken Brand Dir Pattie Falch on Monday said sponsoring the tournament was an "opportunity for us to engage with some of our fans." Fox Business' Cheryl Casone noted Heineken has been a tournament sponsor for 22 years, which "might be one of the largest partnerships we've ever seen." Additionally, Falch said the company "makes our own apparel," which is for sale at the tournament's Heineken House ("Fox Business After The Bell," Fox Business, 8/26). ADWEEK's Christopher Heine noted Twitter recently "struck a video-based deal" with the USTA and Heineken for the tournament. The USTA will "tweet video content" during the tournament via Twitter's Amplify platform while "constantly featuring the beer company." Heineken will appear in "five-second pre-rolls for the USTA's spots as well as in a banner unit on the video player." USTA Chief Revenue Officer Lew Sherr said that the brand can then "retweet those highlights to its followers." In terms of video content, the U.S. Open will "tweet real-time clips of exciting moments from the tennis courts" (ADWEEK.com, 8/26).
LESSON LEARNED: Prince Global Sports CEO Mike Ballardie said of why the brand nearly folded, "The lesson I'm learning is that we spread ourselves too thin in our distribution. We went too wide and we went too low in terms of price and image of the brand and so we're retrenching a little bit. We're going to focus on our specialty and our core customers and we're going to rebuild as a premium performance and innovative brand." Fox Business' Casone noted the "core market" for Prince is the U.S. Ballardie said it is "where we can regroup and rebuild our market share very aggressively" ("Fox Business After The Bell," Fox Business, 8/26).
A series of Farmers Insurance videos will debut today with Rickie Fowler playing private investigator Dick Fowler, who sniffs out a series of etiquette transgressions on the golf course. Two of the spoofs launch today and two more will come out in October, the company said. In one spot, Fowler uncovers a golfer who does not rake a sand trap, while another features Fowler taking to task a fan whose cell phone rings in a player’s backswing. Farmers' marketing agency in golf, CAA Sports, worked with the company on the planning, while Santa Monica-based RPA assisted Farmers on the creative and production. The four spots run for one minute, 45 seconds on average, and will appear on Farmers’ website and its YouTube channel. Promotion of the Fowler spots began this morning on Golf Channel’s“Morning Drive” and a flurry of social media hits, including Twitterposts from the Farmers account, Golf Digest, and retweets by Fowler, whohas more than 564,000 followers.
TIP OF THE HAT: Farmers first struck a deal to sponsor Fowler in December with branding on the side of the golfer’s hat. Fowler has a head-to-toe apparel deal with Puma, but retained a space on the right side of the hat for his representatives at Wasserman Golf to sell. Farmers started the relationship with Fowler by buying the space on the hat and since then the partnership has expanded to include Fowler in its production. Farmers Head of Sponsorships Chuck Browning said, "When you look past all of Rickie’s colorful (wardrobe) and his golf, you find out what kind of person he is and where you might be able to have some fun with him. In our advertising thematics, we’re talking to the consumer about being smart about their insurance. Be smart and have a plan. In these webisodes, we’re able to take that ‘Be Smart’ message and have some fun with it.” The Farmers branding and tag run at the end of each webisode. “We did something similar in NASCAR (with Kasey Kahne) and the response from consumers was that they like seeing the playful side of these professionals,” said Browning.
The NFL has "become critical to the American advertising-industrial complex," as the "seemingly limitless appeal of the sport among consumers -- women, increasingly, as well as men -- has made it almost as crucial a delivery vehicle for commercial messages as the holiday shopping season," according to Stuart Elliott of the N.Y. TIMES. Toyota for example "will introduce the 2014 Corolla with a 60-second musical commercial" by Saatchi & Saatchi, L.A. that will "make its debut" in NBC's Sept. 5 Ravens-Broncos kickoff game. Grey N.Y. President & Chief Creative Officer Tor Myhren said, "There’s an appetite for live sports, and football is by far the largest sport. ... So when there’s a live football game, it’s more meaningful than it’s ever been. It’s one of the few things America watches in real time, together and, as a result, the airtime is very valuable." Grey N.Y.'s parent company WPP "created ads for Gillette Fusion ProGlide razors that will also run on Sept. 5 during NBC’s broadcast." Fox has "already sold" 85-90% of its commercial inventory for Super Bowl XLVIII. The "continuing growth of fantasy football may be feeding the appetite for the sport among consumers and, by extension, marketers." Lenovo is "celebrating fantasy football in a Web based series" called "Tough Season," which "involves the DigitasLBi agency, part of Publicis; the Wasserman Media Group; and The Onion." But the fact that so many marketers are "eager to associate themselves with football is producing a problem: games overflowing with commercials." The "crowded conditions are compounded by all the look-alike spots that are about football." Clorox Marketing Manager Chris Neel said that for companies to "break through the clutter and 'gain more traction,'" he advises "extending campaigns beyond game coverage and into realms like social media" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/28).
Nike, illustrating its "inability to leave well enough alone," unveiled new sweaters for the U.S. men’s ice hockey team to wear at the '14 Sochi Olympics yesterday, replacing the "clean and classic USA on the chest with a meaningless crest and adding screen-printed stars to the shoulders and fake laces under the collar," according to Bernie Augustine of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. The shield, which "appears on both the white and blue versions of the jersey, has drawn comparisons to both the K-Swiss and Union Pacific Railroad logos." The badge-like crest is "outlined in gold," and "reads 'USA' across a blue top portion with vertical red and white stripes below." The sleeves on the blue jersey "have red and white bands over the bicep while the white jersey has a red stripe across the chest and a blue shoulder area." The new look is a "drastic departure from the kits the Americans wore" in Vancouver in '10. This update has "some nice touches -- 'Land of the Free, Home of the Brave' is written inside the neckline and there is a reference to the Americans' Olympic gold medals in 1960 and 1980 in the collar -- but the less-is-more concept was clearly lost on the designer" (NYDAILYNEWS.com, 8/27). NBCSPORTS.com's Joe Yerdon wrote the crest "is impressive." It is "old-timey looking and cool." Yerdon: "No problems there. Everything else? Debatable." The road blue jersey is "the better of the two if for no reason other than the striping isn’t quite so bad." The single red stripe "on the white jersey is a touch off-putting." The one "unforgivable sin here is the lacing on the collars as they’re not even real laces" (NBCSPORTS.com, 8/27). Yahoo Sports' Melanie Collins said of the sweaters, "Being that it's Nike, I feel like we always expect a lot out of them." She added, "The general consensus seems to be that they are pretty hideous. I don't hate them, (but) I don't love them." Collins said the stars around the shoulder area that are "blending in are a little awkward" ("Yahoo Sports Talk Live," Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, 8/27).
FROM RUSSIA, WITH LOVE: QMI AGENCY noted Capitals LW Alex Ovechkin "in a star-studded presentation" Monday at Moscow's Sokolniki Ice Hall unveiled the Russian Hockey Federation's red and white Olympic jersey. The uniforms "have eight stars along the shoulder, honouring the number of gold medals Russia and the Soviet Union have combined to win in men's hockey at the Olympics" (QMI AGENCY, 8/27).
Bellator has signed a sponsorship deal with Victory Motorcycles that will see its Victory Lane concept launch around the MMA promotion’s Sept. 7 season-opening broadcast on Spike. The branding concept centers on the fighter walkout area during events. Bellator Chair & CEO Bjorn Rebney and VP/Sales George Pappas earlier in the summer pitched the idea to Polaris CEO Scott Wine and VP/Motorcycles Steve Menneto, whose company owns Victory Motorcycles. Rebney said, “As the fighters come down that walkway to the cage for a live event on Spike, it’s now going to be branded Victory. Everything you see on the ground will be branded Victory, the bike racks that separate fans from the actual fighters will have the new Victory motorcycles on display.” Rebney said additional activation includes announcer mentions of Victory Lane during fighter walkouts, product displays, Victory reps talking to fans onsite, commercials running in-house, a series of custom Victory and Bellator test drives, and the chance for fans to win giveaways at dealerships nationwide. Bellator fighter Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and ring girl Mercedes Terrell appeared at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota earlier this month to promote the Victory sponsorship. The deal will run at least through the fall season beginning with a three-hour special from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., on Sept. 7, with two-hour episodes airing on Friday nights thereafter. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.
BELLATOR ON PPV: Rebney noted Spike will likely air four preliminary fights prior to Bellator's debut PPV event on Nov. 2, which will feature Jackson against Tito Ortiz in the main event. Rebney said of potential further PPV events for the company, "We don’t have any specific plan right now, but I think what happens on Nov. 2 in Long Beach is going to be a really good indicator of how quickly we get back into that arena of the game." For more excerpts from THE DAILY’s interview with Rebney discussing the PPV event and Bellator’s “Fight Master” reality show, see our On The Ground blog.