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Volume 24 No. 114

Marketing and Sponsorship

The Heat are the NBA's third franchise to sign a floor apron advertising deal, per the team's new sponsorship with Samsung. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but no NBA team is pricing the new apron inventory below $1M, with one big market team asking $3M for the apron space. Samsung's deal with the Heat will put the company's logo on the hard-court in front of the both team benches. The team is looking to place the ads on the floor by its Dec. 1 home game against the Bobcats. "It's an integrated sponsorship with a good mix of assets," said Heat CRO John Vidalin. "It has a combination of assets including the apron, some LED signage, promotions, playoff options, and social media activations." The NBA earlier this year allowed teams to sell the highly visible apron inventory and the Heat now join the Pacers and Raptors as the three NBA teams to sign apron deals. Samsung is also one of the NBA's newest league partners, last month signing a reported three-year, $100M deal (John Lombardo, Staff Writer).

A TOUGH SELL SO FAR: In this week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, Terry Lefton examines why the floor apron has been a tough sell for teams, and notes marketers "familiar with the NBA said the newness of the apron signage combined with its premium price tag has made the initial year difficult." Palace Sports & Entertainment President & CEO Dennis Mannion said, "We hit the big three (Detroit automakers) pretty hard on this. With something new and with this kind of price, it needs a year to cycle through the budgets, and analysis of the big companies that would be the likely buyers." Lefton notes the apron signage officially is "being called a one-year test by the league," and there is "some question as to how easy it is to buy or sell any seven-figure piece of advertising inventory when its future is unclear." The proximity to on-court branding from an arena naming-rights partner "can also make an apron deal anywhere from tricky to impossible." Other marketers noted the "wide variety of camera-visible signage already available around NBA courts" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 11/25 issue).

adidas "did what it had to do by overpaying" Bulls G Derrick Rose when he signed a deal reported to be worth at least $200M early last year, but his latest injury "might lead one to believe that Rose isn't the shoe-selling star adidas thought he was," according to Darren Rovell of Sales of the D Rose 4 shoe "aren't expected to fall completely flat" during his absence, but they "won't exactly be off the charts with Rose sitting on the sideline." Sources said that adidas' deal with Rose "can't be undone, but the company can start to recover money once Rose misses two-thirds of any given season." If the company can prove that shoe sales have been "hurt, it can deduct some of the money owed to Rose." The injury "figures to push adidas into desperation." adidas has "spent way too much time with big men" like Nets F Kevin Garnett, Spurs F Tim Duncan and Rockets C Dwight Howard, "who don't sell shoes." The company more recently has "put its marketing muscle behind" Wizards G John Wall, T'Wolves G Ricky Rubio and Trail Blazers G Damian Lillard, "all of whom are on teams that aren't moving the needle" (, 11/26). TIME's Victor Luckerson notes adidas was able to turn Rose's initial knee injury "into a marketing opportunity, launching a microsite to chronicle his rehabilitation and helping to boost excitement for his return." adidas will now "have to come up with some new strategy to keep fans interested" in Rose. Former Nike, adidas and Reebok exec Sonny Vaccaro: "Everything was built on him coming back. It was successful. He was on every magazine. The shoe was selling. All those things were positive, and now this. There’s no remake. How do you play that show again?" (, 11/27).

HOW NBA INSURANCE WORKS: Rovell reported the Bulls are on the hook for Rose's entire $17.6M salary this season even though he only played in 10 games, but the NBA's insurance policy with MetLife "means the team will get some of that money back." The policy begins "paying out after a player has missed 41 straight games with the same injury." That means insurance will pay 80% of Rose's salary for the final 29 games of the season. Rovell: "In the past two years, the Bulls have paid Rose $34 million and have received $11.5 million dollars back from insurance. If this was not a completely new injury, the insurance policy from last season would have continued to cover the Bulls at 80 percent of Rose’s salary. But because it’s a completely new injury, the clock to reach the 41-game deductible starts over again” (“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 11/26).

Many NBA players are "known for their stylish wardrobes," but what is "less obvious is the considerable attention men in the league pay to their grooming routines," according to Elizabeth Holmes of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Many are "devoted to particular products and have devised specific hair and skin-care regimens tailored to their sweat-laden and shower-heavy lifestyle." The added care "fits with the (quite literal) exposure that basketball players have while competing." Unlike other sports, where helmets cover players' faces, basketball players "are on full display during a game." Rockets F Chandler Parsons said, "We're a walking billboard. You want to look good to everyone who is watching." Holmes notes makers of men's grooming products are "catching on and forming relationships with teams and players." Anthony Brands "stocks the locker rooms" at Barclays Center for the Nets with "hundreds of bottles of its products like glycolic facial cleanser and pre-shave oil." Also, Dove Men+Care "ran an ad campaign earlier this year" featuring Heat G Dwyane Wade. Unilever VP/Marketing for Skincare Rob Candelino said that "well-known men talking about grooming lend legitimacy to the use of products that might otherwise make men hesitant" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/27).