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Volume 24 No. 158

Marketing and Sponsorship

Spirits marketer Diageo is close to taking the wraps off a multiyear sponsorship deal with the NBA. Specific brands being leveraged have yet to be named. Last night’s TNT broadcast of Bulls-Heat had a variety of spirits commercials, including ads for Diageo’s Ciroc Amaretto, a flavored vodka brand which has used Sean "Diddy" Combs in advertising since ‘07. Diageo also owns Smirnoff, the biggest spirit brand in the world; Johnnie Walker scotch; and Captain Morgan and Myers’s rums. As an NBA sponsor, Diageo will replace Bacardi, which in ‘10 became the first spirits marketer to sign a sponsorship with one of the big four pro stick-and-ball leagues. As a much larger company, Diageo ups the spirits ante for the NBA. The move comes at a time when marketers of beer, long the lifeblood of sports sponsorship, have been losing market share to spirits, especially among younger drinkers. The big stick-and-ball leagues loosened their restrictions on spirits sponsorships within the past 5-10 years, but motorsports and golf appear to have been the biggest beneficiaries. Former NBA marketer Peter Farnsworth, who now heads consultancy Foxrock Partners, NYC, said, “From, a team perspective, there’s still a lot of restrictions on spirits." Farnsworth said he had no specific knowledge of the Diageo deal, but noted that while vodka marketers have been very active in recent years, brown spirits have lately shown significant growth. Farnsworth: “I’d look for more activity there."

The U.S. Olympic team yesterday "unveiled its Ralph Lauren closing ceremony outfits," and the clothing this time around "will actually be made in the U.S.," according to David Wharton of the L.A. TIMES. Ralph Lauren during the '12 London Games "took heat because much of its American team apparel was manufactured overseas, including in China." The U.S. team will "sport an iconic winter look featuring striped pea coats over wool turtlenecks with reindeer and snowflake motifs." Team members' pants will be "slim-fitting cream fleece and their black leather boots will have red laces." Ralph Lauren said that its Olympic sportswear collection "will become available online next month and will be in stores in December" (, 10/29). NBC's Brian Williams said Ralph Lauren making the uniforms in the U.S. is a "promise made and kept by the clothing company after that uproar during the London Games" ("Nightly News," NBC, 10/29). There are "over 40 American partners designing, sourcing and manufacturing the new look" ("World News," ABC, 10/29). The AP's Samantha Critchell wrote moving production of the clothing to the U.S. was a "lesson in the state of the American manufacturing." Ralph Lauren Exec VP/Advertising, Marketing & Corporate Communications David Lauren said that it was "hard to come by facilities that could create the quantity and quality needed for the Olympic uniforms and the versions that will be sold to the public." As a result, there are "fewer pieces in the collection" for '14 (AP, 10/29).

LOOK GOOD, SKATE GOOD: U.S. figure skater Evan Lysacek said that he still gets "a thrill donning Olympic duds." Lysacek said, "As an athlete, the clothing means even more than you’d think. The training, the sacrifices, the lifestyle, which is not glamorous and can be grueling and trying at times, all seem to come together in the moment when you realize you are part of the Olympic team. The moment you put on those first pieces of the American team clothes, you feel like it’s real" (, 10/29). Lysacek added, "The apparel has become such a large component of the Olympics. You guys are going to have to start asking the athletes, 'Who are you wearing?' ... I think we're all just as proud to sport the Polo logo as we are the American flag" ("Today," NBC, 10/29).

MLS Real Salt Lake yesterday officially unveiled Salt Lake City-based nutritional network marketing company LifeVantage as its new jersey sponsor. The partnership goes into effect on Jan. 1, with the company's logo appearing on the team's jersey starting next season. The agreement marks an end to the jersey deal between RSL and Xango, which in '06 became the first company to sponsor jerseys for a U.S.-based major-league team (RSL). In this week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, Terry Lefton cites sources as saying that the 10-year, $30M deal is "one of the league's largest" and was completed "in just over a month." The value of the deal is about $1.3M more per year than the team’s naming-rights deal to Rio Tinto Stadium, and "three times more per year than what was being paid by Xango." LifeVantage "becomes the latest 'nutraceutical' marketer to align itself with MLS." Herbalife has been on Galaxy jerseys since '07, while AdvoCare has been on FC Dallas uniforms since last season. RSL's jerseys will "get the advantage of a uniform redesign from Adidas," and with a sales network of independent distributors, LifeVantage "plans to leverage this deal wherever RSL plays." This is the company's first sports marketing expenditure (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 10/28 issue).

Chivas USA Corona Extra
Crew Barbasol
DC United Volkswagen
FC Dallas AdvoCare
Fire Quaker Oats
Galaxy Herbalife
Impact BMO
Real Salt Lake LifeVantage
Red Bulls Red Bull
Revolution United Healthcare
Sounders Xbox
Sporting KC Ivy Funds
Timbers Alaska Airlines
Toronto FC BMO
Union Bimbo
Whitecaps Bell Canada

USA TODAY's Sam Amick cites Celebrity DBI data as showing that Warriors G Stephen Curry leads the NBA in "key categories such as trust and appeal while quickly moving up the overall list (he's 22nd overall in the NBA)." This adds to the "mountain of evidence that he's a tremendous representative for the game." His new deal with Under Armour has "made him an even bigger hit in China," he has a deal with flavored mouth-guard company MoGo Sport and he is partaking in an effort to "convince citizens to sign up for Obamacare as part of a partnership with Kaiser Permanente." Curry said, "I have a great support system, a small circle, so they don't ever let me get too ahead of myself" (USA TODAY, 10/30).

A WHOLE NEW WORLD: GRANTLAND's Rembert Browne wrote Nike's new ad for Heat F LeBron James spotlights him as an "iconic adult basketball winner." Browne: "It's the beauty of winning. The need to put on airs evaporates. No one can tell you anything." Imagine James putting out a commercial four years ago in which he is "biking around in a helmet." Browne: "You can almost taste the slander that would be directed his way" (, 10/28).

DEAL WITH THE DEVILS: In New Jersey, John Brennan wrote Mongolia-based Golia Vodka is "looking to make a splash" with its new deal with the Devils to turn Prudential Center's Ice Lounge into the Golia Ice Lounge. The company's logo "can be seen throughout Prudential Center via arena wide LEDs and digital concourse displays in over 100 locations," and Golia "will be showcased in the lounge through specialty cocktails," as well as highlighted in suite menus. Golia as part of the deal "will also receive radio commercials during every Devils game" on WFAN-AM, as well as on the Devils and Prudential Center websites during the season (, 10/29).

PLAYING KETCHUP: PR WEEK's Lindsay Stein reported Bristol Motor Speedway has hired Ketchum to "handle PR for the next three years as the venue prepares to host the inaugural Battle at Bristol college football game" between Virginia Tech and Tennessee (, 10/29).