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Volume 24 No. 112

Marketing and Sponsorship

A Gatorade official yesterday indicated that the brand "had nothing to do" with a social media feud between Thunder F Kevin Durant and Heat G Dwyane Wade regarding a list of the top 10 players in the NBA, according to a tweet by ESPN's Darren Rovell. However, plenty of skeptics believe the back and forth, which stemmed from Durant saying Rockets G James Harden should replace Wade on the list, was less than a pure disagreement.'s Rob Dauster wrote, "This whole Durant vs. D-Wade twitter 'beef' means they're coming out with another Gatorade commercial soon, right?" ESPN's Kevin Negandhi wrote, "Art imitating life or life imitating art? I'm not really buying this KD-Wade back and forth after their Gatorade commercial last year." CVAS Social Sports Consulting's Alex Cervasio: "Looks like @Gatorade is using #socialmedia to fuel this year's @KDTrey5 vs @DwyaneWade." Awful Announcing's official Twitter feed: "Everyone knows this Durant-Wade thing is staged, right? Please don't treat this like it's a real thing. Please." "The Dan Patrick Show" producer Paul Pabst: "We all get this is a setup, right?" (, 9/25).

IT'S A SET-UP? BUSINESS INSIDER's Cork Gaines noted it is "highly possible that the two are setting the scene for a Gatorade ad since they are both sponsored by the sports drink and have appeared in commercials together in the past." In addition to "just sounding scripted, the timing would also work well for the upcoming start to the NBA season which will almost certainly feature a new Gatorade ad campaign" (, 9/25). ESPN's Mike Greenberg also thinks it is a ploy for new Gatorade commercials, saying, "When I first read it I thought this was awesome, these two guys are going at it. And then I thought, 'How stupid am I and how stupid must everyone be?' This clearly, to me, is the set-up to whatever is the next incarnation." He added, "If this does not come back into an advertisement of some kind, whether it's Gatorade or something else within the next calendar year, we will issue a formal apology" ("Mike & Mike," ESPN Radio, 9/25). ESPN's Max Kellerman: "In terms of the beef itself, it's too perfect because the whole Gatorade thing is like, 'This guy's motivating that guy, he's getting up earlier because he's getting up earlier, like two fighters training for each other.' So this seems a little too perfect" ("SportsNation," ESPN2, 9/25). Columnist Kevin Blackistone said, "The feud is made-up to sell Gatorade, that's the whole the thing" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 9/25). ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said it is "altogether possible" the fight was "cooked up by an advertising group" ("PTI," ESPN, 9/25).'s James Park wrote the "banter between the two is certainly fun, but it seems awfully staged." The fact that the conversation "takes place with Cinesport is a tell sign (you hire them to talk about what you want to talk about)." It is "probably because that's what they were both instructed to do during the conversation by whoever is planning on marketing this somehow" (, 9/25).

MAYBE THERE IS MORE TO IT: ESPN's Bomani Jones noted Durant appeared on ESPN2's "Highly Questionable" recently alongside a display of Degree deodorant he was promoting, and Durant's camp "told us we couldn’t ask him about James Harden, and he was quick to throw James Harden into that." Durant also "didn’t seem so interested in selling Degree when he was on with us." Jones: "I wonder how excited he was about selling Gatorade" ("Highly Questionable," ESPN2, 9/25).

IndyCar Series team Andretti Autosport Senior VP & CMO John Lopes on Tuesday said that GoDaddy "will have a reduced role with the team next year if it has one at all," according to AUTOWEEK. Lopes said, "Times have changed a little bit for them; they’re a company that relies heavily on television and they measure their return on investment based on TV. I think it’s safe to say we’ve had a long relationship with them -- I think it’s going on seven years -- and I’d be surprised if we don’t have some type of relationship with them on a going-forward basis. (The car) is probably going to look different, but I’d be surprised if they weren’t with us in some fashion.” Lopes said that “'two or three' companies are interested in sponsoring" driver James Hinchcliffe’s No. 37 car next season, but "none of them have committed at this point" (, 9/25). However, the AP's Jenna Fryer yesterday tweeted, "GoDaddy says its made NO decisions regarding #IndyCar and any 'predictions' made by Andretti Autosport are 'definitely premature.'"

LOOKING AHEAD: In Detroit, David Goricki reported the city will "again host an IndyCar doubleheader next summer." Belle Isle Grand Prix Chair Bud Denker said, “It has not been announced yet, but yes, we will be hosting a doubleheader again next year." GP weekend is May 30-June 1, with IndyCar races set for May 31 and June 1 (DETROIT NEWS, 9/25).'s Robin Miller reported there are "no fewer than four new players in the mix for an IndyCar race" in '15. Road America at Elkhart Lake in Wisconsin and Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, Calif., along with a pair of new venues in Circuit of The Americas in Austin and Providence, R.I. "are taking a hard look." If drivers, teams and fans are "universal on one thing it's bringing back Elkhart Lake ... and its daunting, scenic, historic four-mile Road America course." It has been "six years since major open-wheel racing last appeared there ... but it sounds like" Road America President & GM George Bruggenthies is "serious about making it happen" in '15. He said, “I'm probably letting the cat out of the bag but we've also talked about having a two-day, mid-week test here next summer for IndyCar that's open to the public to keep the juices flowing.” Mazda Laguna from '83-'04 "was a staple on the CART/Champ Car circuit." Meanwhile, it now "appears that Providence is set to step in" and replace the Baltimore GP on the schedule. The 2.1-mile, 11-turn street circuit in Providence "has been in the works for the past two years" (, 9/24).

Quicken Loans will "serve as a primary sponsor for 12 races" for NASCAR driver Ryan Newman in '14 as the mortgage company will "move with Newman from Stewart-Haas Racing to Richard Childress Racing," according to Bob Pockrass of SPORTING NEWS. Newman is replacing Jeff Burton, who "announced earlier this month that he would leave RCR at the end of the year because the team did not have full sponsorship for him." Caterpillar, which sponsored Burton in the No. 31 car for 24 races this year, will "return for the same number" in '14. The 12 races from Quicken Loans "gives RCR almost a fully funded season for its No. 31 car as there are 38 events (including two non-points events) expected to be on the 2014 schedule" (, 9/25).

READ & REACT: Pockrass wrote NAPA leaving Michael Waltrip Racing "might be a sign" that NASCAR "needs to have a sponsor-relations reaction plan when it knows sanctions could have long-reaching effects." It "certainly wasn’t NASCAR’s goal to have MWR lose sponsors." The penalty of removing Martin Truex Jr. from the Chase for the Sprint Cup was "severe, and it appears that is at least part of the reason sponsor NAPA walked." When NASCAR issues penalties to teams that "could damage sponsor relationships, it needs to go into marketing overdrive to explain why it made that decision." NASCAR’s fan and media engagement center "should be able to tell sponsors what the pulse of fans is quickly because it gathers data from a variety of social media sources." It should "have data that can inform sponsors whether what they’re seeing on message boards is just a few angry trolls or their target customer." This is "not to blame NASCAR for the loss of NAPA or the angry reaction" from 5-Hour Energy President Scott Henderson. But whether it is a "penalty action plan to help a team retain a sponsor or more talking points to mitigate the public perception of a race team, NASCAR and its teams can learn from the 'ripple effect' of this episode when a hefty penalty is issued" (, 9/24).

LOOKING TOWARD THE FUTURE: Race team owner Chip Ganassi yesterday debuted the Ganassi TV YouTube channel and discussed the future of the NASCAR. Ganassi said, "The entire face of the sport is going to change in terms of who is in the grandstands in the next 10-20 years, so it's obvious we need to bring on new people if we have any future at all." Ganassi said that when he was 15 years old, "all I wanted to be was 16 because our car was our freedom." However, that "freedom that these young kids have today is looking at their phone." Ganassi: "We need to show them that the car can still be a piece of freedom and that motorsports is a real sport. It's a very, very popular sport in the U.S. but we need to attract … that young fan." The sport "needs to make their experience" at a race event "just like any other great sporting event they go to" (, 9/25).

The Las Vegas college football bowl game has "scored a three-year title sponsorship deal" with Texas-based synthetic oil lubricant company Royal Purple, according to Alan Snel of the LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL. Royal Purple President Bryan Yourdon said that the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl -- formerly Maaco Bowl Las Vegas -- will "allow the company ... to expand business in the western U.S. markets represented by the Mountain West and Pac 12 conference teams." He added, "We want to expand our national retail programs, and putting ourselves on the biggest stage is important." Royal Purple "typically sponsors racecar events and racers," including NASCAR K&N Pro Series driver Dylan Kwasniewski. Yourdon said that Royal Purple will use the bowl game at Sam Boyd Stadium to "entertain company clients and employees." He added that the company’s "sponsorship focus is the 18-45 demographic." Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl Exec Dir Dan Hanneke said that the deal "was cut about a month and a half ago." He added that the deal "is worth more than" $1M a year, but he declined to give specifics about the financial terms. ABC will broadcast the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 21 (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 9/26). The company also sponsored the NASCAR Nationwide Series Royal Purple 300 at Auto Club Speedway in March (THE DAILY).

USOC sponsor Liberty Mutual has signed 13 Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls to feature in marketing ahead of the '14 Sochi Games. The insurer is creating digital vignettes around each athlete that showcase how they overcame obstacles to pursue their Olympic or Paralympic dreams. The videos are part of a campaign Liberty Mutual is calling “Rise,” which ties the athletes’ ability to overcome unanticipated obstacles with consumers' reliance on insurance to “come back from catastrophes, flat tires and all sorts of unexpected life events.” Liberty Mutual Exec VP & Chief Communications Officer Paul Alexander said the company chose athletes that had a history of “responsibility and behaving with integrity.” He said it opted to do digital videos of the athletes and develop a digital campaign because it wanted to tell the athletes’ entire stories and that would be difficult to do in a TV commercial. Alexander: “With our target (35 years old and above), online is a really strong place to reach them. The whole Olympic idea about folks who have had difficulties or setbacks and then come back to succeed is compelling and online gives you the chance to tell that story more in depth than in mass media.” Ketchum Sports & Entertainment helped Liberty Mutual select its athletes. In addition to the digital videos, the athletes will make appearances at Liberty Mutual events and offices. Alexander said it is possible that some of the athletes will be featured in Liberty Mutual’s TV ad campaign before and during the Games. Creative is still being developed by Boston-based Hill Holiday. Liberty Mutual also works with 21 Marketing on its Olympics sponsorship.

Figure Skater Max Aaron Hockey players Jocelyne & Monique Lamoureux
Speedskater J.R. Celski Sled hockey player Rico Roman
Bobsledder Jazmine Fenlator Paralympic skier Andy Soule
Freestyle skier Jen Hudak Former skier Picabo Street
Ski jumper Jessica Jerome Skeleton racer Katie Uhlaender
Snowboarder Chris Klug Snowboarder Seth Wescott

PRO FOOTBALL TALK's Mike Florio reported NFL players and teams "can use Under Armour visor clips," as long as the logo "is invisible." NFL VP/Communications Brian McCarthy said that the UA logo "must be fully concealed." Blacking out the logo "isn’t enough, because the outline can still be seen." Moving forward, teams "will be required to cover the logo, presumably with black tape." The league has "declined comment for now on whether fines will be levied" against Panthers QB Cam Newton and other players with the "apparent violation" (, 9/25).

SMOKE SIGNAL: USA TODAY's Bruce Horovitz reports the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws "is making a serious bid to win an online voting contest sponsored by Intuit, which has promised to award a free Super Bowl spot to one American small business." The contest "has received more than 100,000 entries," and the group "ranks among the most popular vote-getters in the first stage of consumer voting, which just ended." Intuit officials are "trying to put on the best public face." Intuit Corporate Communications Dir Heather McLellan in an e-mail wrote, "This program has been a huge success in our eyes, and we want to continue to focus on all the entries -- not just one" (USA TODAY, 9/26). In N.Y., David Knowles reports whether the ad "will actually air on Super Bowl Sunday will be up to Fox" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/26).

ALL OUT? In DC, Dan Steinberg wrote if Redskins QB Robert Griffin III "does not begin to play more like 2012," adidas is a "culprit you will increasingly hear about." Steinberg noted a "whole lot of people remember the 'All In For Week 1' business, and are now wondering whether this ad campaign put unfair pressure on the quarterback to return before he was quite ready" (, 9/25).

ANY WEATHER IS PEPSI WEATHER: In Newark, Mike Frassinelli reports New Jersey Transit and its advertising contractor will get more than $1M from Pepsi to "decorate stations, trains and buses in advertising leading up to the Super Bowl." The contract "runs until the day after the Feb. 2 Super Bowl" at MetLife Stadium. Transit spokesperson Nancy Snyder said that the ads "will appear on the backs and sides of buses and sides of rail cars, in addition to the walls of the transit stations" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 9/26).

In Pittsburgh, Bob Cohn reports the Pirates on Tuesday "were the hottest" MLB club on online retailer Fanatics spokesperson Scott Weiss said that Pirates merchandise sales increased 200% from Monday, and the official Pirates playoff T-shirt "was the No. 1-selling MLB item." He added that September sales were 390% higher "than last year at this time" (PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 9/26).

KOPITAR KEEPS UP APPEARANCES: In Las Vegas, Howard Stutz reports NHL Kings C Anze Kopitar "spent a few hours" yesterday at the Interblock Gaming Products booth inside the Global Gaming Expo at the Sands Expo & Convention Center. Kopitar was asked to attend by Slovenia-based gaming equipment manufacturer Interblock Owner & Chair Joc Pececnik, who is "one of the richest men in Slovenia, Kopitar's home country." Pecenik this year "asked him to be the celebrity spokesman for Interblock." Kopitar's duties are "simple: Play golf with Interblock clients and make public appearances on behalf of the company" (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 9/26).

ARE YOU EXPERIENCED? In Baltimore, Sarah Meehan reported Under Armour's new shop in China, called the "Under Armour Experience," is "set to open in October." UA has had a presence in China for four years, but company Founder, Chair & CEO Kevin Plank said that it has "been a struggle for the company to build a following in a place where exercise is often a foreign concept." The 2,500-square-foot store "will give customers a taste of the athlete experience," which will "first aim to sell customers on the act of exercising, and then sell them the gear to go with it" (, 9/25).

CHEVRON RE-UPS WITH HOUSTON MARATHON: Chevron has renewed its title sponsorship of the annual Chevron Houston Marathon road race through '18. The event has now sold out for the ninth consecutive year (Houston Marathon).