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Volume 24 No. 117

Marketing and Sponsorship

NFL VP/Communications Brian McCarthy said that the current NFL season "will be the last to feature Riddell as the official helmet" of the league, according to Darren Rovell of McCarthy said that the NFL agreed in '89 "to give Riddell rights to be the official helmet of the NFL in perpetuity after a slew of helmet manufacturers went out of business." But he added that the league "recently renegotiated the deal to have it end at the conclusion" of the '13 season. The company in a statement Thursday acknowledged "for the first time publicly that the deal would end." Riddell said in the statement, "We are proud of our relationship with the NFL. ... We look forward to a continued positive and productive relationship with the NFL in the future. We are confident that we will continue to be the helmet of choice of our nation's elite football players." Rovell notes during the past few years, as the league "became increasingly focused on concussions, NFL officials were more concerned about the implication of selling exclusive branding rights to one helmet company over another." NFL players "can wear any helmet they want as long as it complies with prescribed standards, but Riddell is the only company whose name can appear on the helmet's nose bumper." Riddell currently "pays for this privilege as well as the right to produce regular-size and mini helmets with league logos on them that are most frequently sold to autograph collectors." Roughly one-third of the league's players "don't use a Riddell helmet" (, 10/25).

UNDER THE DOME: In Portland, Thomas Boyd notes Nike in '09 sought Oregon-based Hydro Graphics' help "applying an eye-catching, durable coating to football helmets" for the Univ. of Oregon and five other NCAA football teams. Colleges and high schools since "have flocked to Hydro Graphics, trying to come up with their own sleek, exciting new looks." But the NFL in August "informed its teams that players may use only one helmet during the season, eliminating the use of alternate helmets, such as with throwback uniforms." The league "cited safety concerns for making the move, though it has not offered data to support the decision." Hydro Graphics Owner Chris Thom is "concerned, knowing the NCAA could weigh in with a ruling of its own, regardless of the popularity of spiffed-up helmets." UO "will use six helmet designs during the regular season and another for an anticipated bowl game." UO Senior Associate AD/Marketing & PR Craig Pintens in an e-mail wrote that "not enough is known about the NFL's reasoning to comment on the league's policy." But Pintens added, "Every helmet that we wear is fitted professionally by our staff to ensure player safety" (Portland OREGONIAN, 10/25).

La Liga club FC Barcelona F Lionel Messi is the first soccer player to "break into the top-10 list of America's favorite athletes," according to ESPN Sports Poll data cited by Roger Bennett of ESPN FC. Messi was ranked seventh overall, while the 12- to 24-year-old demographic has him as its "fourth-favorite athlete" in the U.S. Bobcats Owner Michael Jordan, Broncos QB Peyton Manning and Heat F LeBron James make up the top three, but only one MLBer, Yankees SS Derek Jeter, finishes ahead of Messi. ESPN Senior Dir of Sports Marketing Seth Ader said of Messi's ranking, "It is a constellation of factors. International soccer has become an increasing favorite of sports fans. The more they are exposed to broadcasts of elite leagues, the more they fall in love with it. World Cup ratings are rising on a 45-degree angle up to the sky. The EA Sports factor cannot be exaggerated. Their FIFA game is the No. 2 best-seller in the U.S. sports category, behind the Madden franchise, and the more the Hispanic community assimilate ... the more they fuel the overall conversation." The study, which was conducted from October '12-September '13, "tracks the fan base sizes and demographic trends for all major sports through a monthly telephone survey of 1,500 Americans ages 12 and over" (, 10/22).

The MLB Cardinals and a local businessman are "trying to negotiate a settlement" of a dispute over his October '11 federal trademark application "on the Rally Squirrel for shirts and related memorabilia," according to Kavita Kumar of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. Missouri-based sports memorabilia dealer Phil Rideout in '11 said that he "thinks he was the first one to make a Rally Squirrel T-Shirt that year." Rideout said then that he "applied to register the trademark because he wanted to build a whole sports brand around the Rally Squirrel outside of just baseball and wanted to make sure he was in the clear legally before launching it." The Cardinals in '12 "filed an opposition" with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. The team in the filing noted that it "quickly began marketing Rally Squirrel merchandise, including rally towels that were handed out to 40,000 fans" at an NLCS game. It also "sold T-shirts in its team store with the slogan 'Got Squirrel.'" Rideout's attorney David Howard "would not discuss the details of this case." But Howard speaking generally about trademark law noted that a federal trademark "would not necessarily trump 'common law' trademarks for people who actively use the mark in a certain geographic region" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/25).

The Valero Alamo Bowl on Thursday announced that the San Antonio-based oil company will extend its title sponsorship of the event through '19, and in San Antonio, Tim Griffin noted, "Having a hometown company provide the title sponsorship is key." Valero "receives benefit from its association with the local bowl every day in ways that an out-of-town sponsor wouldn’t receive." That means the bowl "can move forward for the next six years with its future relatively stable" (, 10/24).

CHEEKY CHARMIN: In N.Y., Andrew Adam Newman notes Procter & Gamble's Charmin brand is "transporting trailers with about 20 restrooms to NFL stadiums, where pregame revelers can use what the company is calling Charmin Tailgating Potties." A new commercial for the brand "features video from the first NFL outing," the Ravens-Broncos season opener on Sept. 5. The TV spot, which was introduced on Oct. 14, is by Publicis Kaplan Thaler, N.Y. The "roving restrooms will visit four stadiums, the last outing being" at AT&T Stadium on Thanksgiving Day for Raiders-Cowboys (N.Y. TIMES, 10/25).

ROCKIES' ROAD: Rockies Dir of Retail Operations Aaron Heinrich said that the team's six Dugout stores in Colorado are "more than just places to buy a T-shirt or jersey." He said that they "offer services to season ticket-holders such as ticket exchanges, and provide exclusive ticket specials and opportunities to buy collectibles, such as game-used bats, balls and jerseys." He added that the Rockies "view the stores as an important way to connect with fans in different parts of the state" (Colorado Springs GAZETTE, 10/24).

HAIR WE GO: In DC, Dan Steinberg noted Redskins RB Roy Helu Jr., who "hasn't cut his hair in about a year," was on CSN Washington's "Redskins Nation" this week and was asked about "angling to get a Troy Polamalu-style shampoo deal." Helu said, "That’s not the purpose of growing my hair out. I want to make sure that I say that. But, you know, if something comes along? Suave? I’m not a Suave user, but I know that they’re pretty affordable, and I want to be marketed to the blue-collar people who can’t afford Head & Shoulders" (, 10/24).