EA Sports and the Collegiate Licensing Co. have "settled all claims brought against them by plaintiffs in the joint Sam Keller and Ed O'Bannon lawsuit over the use of college athletes' names, images and likenesses," according to Jon Solomon of the BIRMINGHAM NEWS. EA reached "similar settlements in cases brought by former Rutgers football player Ryan Hart and former West Virginia football player Shawne Alston." Keller attorney Rob Carey said that more than 100,000 athletes "will be eligible for compensation at varying amounts." Some class members in the settlement "will have more valuable rights than others depending on the scope of their claims." The settlements "could date back as far" as '03. The "definition of the class-action suit includes active players, meaning current college players figure to receive payments from EA and CLC." Meanwhile, EA said that its "NCAA Football" game "won't be produced next year and may be gone for good." The manufacturer said that it is ending the game for '14 "due to ongoing lawsuits." EA said that the NCAA and "a number of conferences have withdrawn their support of the game" (BIRMINGHAM NEWS, 9/27). Keller's attorney Steve Berman said that the settlement "will include between 200,000 and 300,000 former college football players whose likenesses were used in the game." He would only say that the settlement would provide the ex-players with "something substantive." ESPN.com's Darren Rovell noted EA "will not admit any wrongdoing as part of the settlement agreement" (ESPN.com, 9/26). Investment bank Piper Jaffray Managing Dir & Senior Research Analyst Michael Olson said that EA's choice to cancel its NCAA game "could take about 3% off the company's expected top-line next year" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/27).
IT'S NOT IN THE GAME: The "NCAA Football" game in recent years had begun to tail off in sales, falling to around 2 million units per year, far less than what core company franchises such as "FIFA" and "Madden NFL" sell each year. EA Sports GM/Football Games Cam Weber in a company blog post wrote, "We have been stuck in the middle of a dispute between the NCAA and student-athletes who seek compensation for playing college football. Just like companies that broadcast college games and those that provide equipment and apparel, we follow rules that are set by the NCAA -- but those rules are being challenged by some student-athletes. ... The ongoing legal issues combined with increased questions surrounding schools and conferences have left us in a difficult position -- one that challenges our ability to deliver an authentic sports experience." Weber went on to call the cancellation "profoundly disappointing" (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer).
FIGHTING THE FIGHT: USA TODAY's Steve Berkowitz writes the NCAA has "vowed to keep fighting on the issue for as long as necessary." With Thursday's settlement, the NCAA now is the "lone defendant" in the case with O'Bannon, Keller and five other current football players. NCAA Exec VP & General Counsel Donald Remy early Thursday said that the association was "gearing up for that case with even greater resources and resolve than it has before." Remy: "We're prepared to take this all the way to the Supreme Court if we have to. We are not prepared to compromise on the case" (USA TODAY, 9/27).
As Yankees P Mariano Rivera heads into his final MLB series this weekend, his No. 42 jersey tops the list of the best-sellers since the All-Star break on MLB's official online shop. Rivera is followed on the list by three players in either their first or second MLB seasons -- Mets P Matt Harvey, Dodgers RF Yasiel Puig and Orioles 3B Manny Machado. In fact, 16 of the 20 players on the list are 30 years old or younger. Players from 13 different teams comprise the list (MLB).
USOC sponsor Kellogg Co. this year will broaden its approach to Olympic marketing, moving from the singular campaign focused on its signature Kellogg’s brand during the '12 London Games to multiple campaigns around seven of its brands during the '14 Sochi Games. The company, which became a USOC sponsor in '11, will announce the complete list of brands at a later date, but Pop-Tarts, Bear Naked and Kashi are three of the newcomers. Kellogg Senior Dir of Integrated Promotions Sandy Uridge said, "A lot of other brands saw our success after 2012 and thought there was a great opportunity to get on board.” Kashi and Bear Naked this week announced they would be developing Olympic-related promotions. Kashi signed cross-country skier Kikkan Randall and plans to feature her in social media and advertising campaigns, which could include TV, print and digital ads. Uridge said, “The program is all about the power of positive eating. Kikkan is a big believer in that. She’ll say you can’t out-train bad nutrition. She’s a great athlete and representative of the Kashi brand.” Bear Naked signed snowboarder Chas Guldemond and mogul skier Hannah Kearney to feature in marketing efforts. Uridge said the brand plans to do a smaller promotion that includes packaging and on-site sampling at events. She added, “Their premise is they’re fueling epic winter adventures. They have a campaign about ‘one upping’ -- one upping winter experience.” Kellogg’s agencies Krispr and MatterEdelman helped select the athletes. Uridge said Kellogg Co. expects to have 13-14 athletes across all of its brands.
TNT's Charles Barkley said he felt a "little overexposed" during the NCAA men's basketball tournament last March and vowed that it "won't ever happen again." In addition to his studio duties for CBS and Turner, Barkley starred in commercials for Capital One and CDW that ran during tournament games. Appearing on an ADAGE.com online video taken during Advertising Week, Barkley noted the networks aired the commercials "too much," but said it was "100% my fault." Barkley: "I can't ever let that happen." He discussed his career as a commercial endorser and noted his ads for Nike were his favorite because he has "been with Nike the longest." He called the '93 "Role Model" ad the "best commercial I ever did" and the one he is "most proud of." Barkley: "I want these young black kids not to all think they're going to play pro sports. They've got to get their education, that's really the key. ... I'm hoping the 'Role Model' commercial started a great debate, but to this day that's the thing I'm most proud of." Meanwhile, Barkley noted of current athletes, Broncos QB Peyton Manning and Clippers teammates Chris Paul and Blake Griffin make the "best spots." He said, "Guys are learning the only way a commercial can be successful is if it's funny. I figured that out a long time ago. A lot of guys made bad commercials trying to be too serious. I think if you make people laugh that's the best commercial" (ADAGE.com, 9/25).
SportsNet N.Y. calls out ESPN in a new brand campaign designed to draw attention to "Geico SportsNite," the RSN's local answer to "SportsCenter." The campaign, from Spork, N.Y., breaks next week. It includes four animated TV ads tweaking the "paltry local coverage of the worldwide leader." Past ads have noted the minimal amount of N.Y. sports coverage on local news shows, but SNY President Steve Raab said, "We found that differentiating ourselves from local news was just not important." Past brand campaigns also had centered on SNY's flagship property, the Mets. "Our position has always been New York sports-centric, so we decided to hang our campaign on 'SportsNite,'" Raab said. "Once you understand it is not 'SportsCenter,' we can communicate how it's unique." The campaign continues the RSN's original "Get Your New York Sports Here" tag line. "Our message is about more and deeper New York sports news than anywhere else," said SNY VP/Marketing & Business Development Marie DeParis. Along with buys across N.Y. broadcast outlets and cable networks, including Spike and TNT, SNY is taking a "domination" position at Penn Station that includes 262 ad pieces at the transportation hub. The campaign also will play across local print as well as social and digital media. Without revealing the exact size of the campaign, Raab said the paid portion was in the mid-six figures, with considerably more asset media from SNY partners, adding that SNY liked the campaign enough that it put more money behind it than originally was budgeted.
ADWEEK's Christopher Heine cited a source as saying that McDonald's has agreed to become the "second advertising partner in the new NFL-Twitter Amplify partnership." Verizon was "revealed as the lead sponsor for the initiative" on Thursday. The source said that the McDonald’s announcement "will surface during the coming days." The source added that the two brands "would likely own the complete NFL-Twitter Amplify inventory throughout the season." Verizon will "get the lion’s share of the tweets-based promos, including getting exclusive, constant mention via the NFL’s Super Bowl Twitter activity on Feb. 2" (ADWEEK.com, 9/26).
MO MONEY...: Boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. said that he "doesn't need Nike, Adidas or Under Armour logos on his back or boxing trunks to validate his brand." But AD AGE's Michael McCarthy noted if the brands are "interested, the price starts at $1 million -- per fight." Mayweather said that if a corporate sponsor "wants to put a logo on his boxing trunks, it's 'possible.'" Like Tiger Woods and Broncos QB Peyton Manning, Mayweather is "looking for 'ownership,' not just a paycheck." Mayweather is "one of the rare jocks who doesn't have to chase endorsement dollars on Madison Avenue." Mayweather in '13 will earn $90M "without a single, current endorsement deal." He previously appeared in commercials for AT&T. Marketers "tend toward the conservative, so they might not exactly rush" to Mayweather, who can be "a bit of a livewire" (ADAGE.com, 9/26).
LIVING IN AMERICA: The American Athletic Conference and IMG have reached a multiyear extension of their agreement for marketing and sponsorship rights. The deal covers sales and marketing rights for each of the AAC's postseason championships. The agreement also includes the AAC Football Championship, which will begin with the '15 season, and all Olympic sports. The pact runs through the '17-18 academic year (AAC).