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Volume 24 No. 136

Marketing and Sponsorship

Samsung yesterday announced that La Liga club FC Barcelona F Lionel Messi will "serve as 'captain' of its Galaxy 11 ad campaign," according to Michael McCarthy of AD AGE. Samsung also debuted a "cinematic, 60-second video on YouTube" showing Messi "dribbling, dodging and leaping his way past a mysterious group of pursuers." They "finally corner him," and retired soccer player Franz Beckenbauer offers Messi "a Captain's 'C' to lead the Earth in a winner-take-all match on a virtual pitch against the denizens of a giant alien spaceship hovering overhead." R/GA, S.F., and South Korea-based agency Cheil Worldwide "created the global ad campaign." Samsung in the coming weeks "will reveal the ten other soccer stars" joining Messi "via a microsite and Samsung Mobile social-media channels." Samsung's announcment yesterday "capped off a weeks-long teaser campaign called #WinnerTakesEarth, which involved placing alien-like symbols and cryptic messages at soccer games in the U.S, Brazil, England, Italy and Germany and landmarks such as Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro." Messi previously has appeared in ad campaigns for Samsung (, 11/11).

Swiss watch company Hublot last summer installed a 25th anniversary clock in AmericanAirlines arena, the "latest in a series of investments by Hublot, and other Swiss watch brands, into US basketball and the NBA," according to Arthur Touchot of the FINANCIAL TIMES. Hublot in February '11 "signed a partnership deal" with Heat G Dwyane Wade. Swiss watch company Audemars Piguet in response signed Heat F LeBron James. But Hublot "picked up its second signing this year" with Lakers G Kobe Bryant. The "blossoming relationship between luxury watch brands and basketball became even harder to ignore when IWC became the third watch brand to partner with an NBA player" in Knicks F Carmelo Anthony. The deals so far have "led to million-dollar investments, through charitable donations to players' foundations, and collaborations on limited editions." Audemars Piguet CEO Francois-Henry Bennahmias said, "Are we targeting NBA fans? No. Not especially. Watch brands are choosing to work with players who care about their watches, and talk about them to other players. They're choosing the most active kind of representative." Anthony co-founded and launched Haute Time, a "print magazine that previously existed only online." It aims to "inform watch enthusiasts on the industry developments, and Anthony writes a Watch of the Day column for the website." He said, "I want (people) to know why they are buying that watch. If I can be the guy who speaks for the timepiece world in my community, I'm going to do that." IWC describes Anthony "as 'a partner' and, unusually for such a relationship, it does not require him to wear the brand exclusively" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 11/9).

Sunday was "a bad day for Fantex, the fledgling company promoting initial public offerings" of Texans RB Arian Foster and 49ers TE Vernon Davis, according to Peter Lattman of the N.Y. TIMES. Reports surfaced on Sunday that Foster was "expected to have back surgery that will end his season." Davis then left the 49ers-Panthers game "in the first half after suffering a concussion and did not return." Fantex acknowledged that the chance of injury was a "significant risk when it unveiled its innovative business last month." A Fantex spokesperson "declined to comment until after the Texans announced details" about Foster’s future. Lattman notes the players' injuries "are not the company’s only setbacks." Fantex had "hoped to offer its first IPO at the start of the NFL season, in part to avoid a midseason injury that could hamper a deal." But the "review process by Wall Street regulators, especially at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, took longer than anticipated, which held up the company’s debut" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/12).