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Volume 24 No. 160

Marketing and Sponsorship

The U.S. Open's partnership with IBM has "become a test bed of data-fueled innovation that not only reaches consumers and media covering the event, but now even uses social-media data to influence how server resources are allocated," according to Kate Kaye of AD AGE. Courtside handheld devices "feed multiple data points such as serve speeds from each match into the system, where they hit a database that's accessible to announcers broadcasting the games, and reporters hunkered down in media lairs in the lower level of the stadium." Apple and Android apps developed by IBM "surface information on player matchups, and track event and athlete-related trends on Twitter." It is "only recently" that IBM and the USTA "recognized through analysis of previous efforts that the apps were popular and could be an additional revenue stream." USTA Dir of Digital Strategy & Partnership Nicole Jeter West said, "We had not monetized the mobile apps. ... There was not a lot of sponsor integration." Kaye noted the Twitter tracker, Trendcast, is "sponsored by American Express" this year, while Mercedes-Benz and IBM are "sponsors in the US Open app." IBM said that the USTA's IT infrastructure "must balloon 50 times its normal capacity to meet demand during the Open." Jeter West said the IBM partnership "allows us to be able to scale and reach the amount of global fans that we have." She added, "For us, there is no recovery time" (, 8/29).

The Univ. at Buffalo athletics department "addressed what its rebranding vision seemed to lack Thursday by announcing the creation of an advisory board to assist in what’s being called the 'New York Bulls Initiative,'" according to Bob DiCesare of the BUFFALO NEWS. The 16-member board "consists of local business leaders and/or alumni and counters any notion that the rebranding initiative launched by Athletics Director Danny White had encountered major community resistance." The board is chaired by New Era President Pete Augustine, and also includes Bills President & CEO Russ Brandon and Delaware North Principal Jerry Jacobs. White said, "It’s about our whole push we’re trying to do to bring this place to big-time college athletics. ... What we’re really trying to do is create some national buzz and let people know that this place has untapped potential." DiCesare notes UB recently "secured a media presence" on N.Y.-area radio, something White "feels is important in reaching out to UB’s many downstate alums." Ticket pledges are "being solicited for the East Club, a premium seating section envisioned for UB Stadium." The hope is that "galvanizing the alumni base and Western New York will heighten involvement and interest in UB athletics and create revenue streams that fund projects, particularly those that are facility-related." The rebranding initiative is "visible on the basketball court and the football field, both of which now contain the words New York." The state name also is "on football coaches' shirts and player jerseys and presumably will be incorporated into the basketball uniforms." Two other notable members of the board are ESPN Senior Coordinating Producer Gerry Matalon and former Sabres Managing Partner & Minority Owner Larry Quinn (BUFFALO NEWS, 8/30).

In Portland, Allan Brettman reports the Univ. of Oregon is "backing away, for now, from a plan to funnel product licensing to a large company in an effort to increase revenue and promote efficiency." The school said the decision was made "following a review of responses to its request for proposals regarding its apparel and headwear licensing program." However, the wording of the release "made clear that changes in the future are possible -- but not for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2014" (Portland OREGONIAN, 8/30).

IT WAS A VERY GOODYEAR: USA TODAY's Nate Ryan reports Goodyear at this Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway will "unveil a right-side tire whose construction philosophy is based on a concept called 'zone tread.'" Goodyear Race Tire Sales Dir Greg Stucker said, "One of the reasons the company is involved in racing is the technology transfer and development; it doesn't matter which way it goes. This is one of those instances that it's coming from the consumer tires to the track, and we very much want people to know that connection" (USA TODAY, 8/30).

HEY RICKIE, YOU'RE SO FINE: Golf Channel's Kelly Tilghman said of Rickie Fowler's new ads with Farmers Insurance, "I don't know even going forward a couple of generations if anyone's brave enough to do this like Rickie Fowler is. But he's a breath of fresh air. He's loaded with color, obviously, through his wardrobe. And the guy can flat-out play the game of golf. This is the new generation." Golf Channel's Steve Flesch: "It's marketing yourself, and you have to have the personality and the gumption to do it. Rickie's doing a good job of it" ("Morning Drive," Golf Channel, 8/28).