Nike received an "early Christmas present in its legal dispute with Oakley" involving golfer Rory McIlroy, as U.S. District Court Judge James Selna ruled in favor of Nike on Dec. 18, according to Alex Miceli of GOLF WEEK. The decision "effectively ended the case." Oakley had filed a five-count complaint against Nike and McIlroy in '12 after the golfer "left Oakley and signed an endorsement contract with Nike." Oakley had "maintained that it had the first right of refusal in re-signing McIlroy and that McIlroy and Nike violated that right." McIlroy and Oakley on Nov. 24 "settled their dispute." The settlement "removed the breach-of-contract count from the list of allegations, and the court dealt with the other claims" in its ruling. McIlroy had signed a two-year endorsement deal for '11-12 that required him to "provide Oakley a right of first refusal regarding any offer received for an endorsement agreement." Nike, according to court documents, "steadfastly told McIlroy’s representatives it was not interested in signing a contract until McIlroy was legally able to do so." McIlroy's former agent -- Horizon Sports Management's Conor Ridge -- at a meeting "told Nike that Oakley was not going to match the Nike offer and signed the contract on behalf of McIlroy and also signed an additional covenant that McIlroy had no obligations that would prevent him from entering into an agreement with Nike" (GOLFWEEK.com, 12/31). In Ireland, Karl MacGinty noted McIlroy is "still locked in an acrimonious legal battle with his former agents at Horizon, which is scheduled to go to trial in the Commercial Court in Dublin next October." McIlroy in September "unveiled his own management company" and "at the same time filed legal proceedings against Horizon." The Dublin firm "defended itself vigorously and launched a counter-suit in November" (IRISH INDEPENDENT, 1/1).
Marketing and Sponsorship
WINTER CONTENT: COC CMO Derek Kent said compared with COC advertising in previous games, the "size of the campaign has increased dramatically." Kent added that the investment "represents a shift in thinking for the COC." Past COC sponsorship deals "gave an advertiser the right to use intellectual property such as the COC’s logo." The GLOBE & MAIL's Krashinsky wrote the COC now is "doing more advertising itself in the belief that strengthening its brand will lead to a better value proposition when it is pitching itself to potential corporate sponsors." Kent also noted, "It is difficult to renew sponsorships following a home-soil Games." Knowing this campaign was in the works was "a way for the COC to tell prospective partners such as BMW, adidas and Oakley -- all new Olympic sponsors this year -- that it would be providing more marketing support to them." The COC for the campaign "commissioned seven profiles of athletes" such as Humphries and speed skater Charles Hamelin. OMD Canada CEO Cathy Collier, whose firm did the media buying/planning for the campaign, said that because the COC is a not-for-profit organization, it "generally does not pay for ad space, but media donations have been way up" compared with the '12 London Games. The two- to three-minute videos "will be made available to its broadcast partner, the CBC, and will also be posted online on YouTube and the Olympic.ca website." Meanwhile, Canadian Tire's Sport Chek brand "launched its own Olympic campaign" during the World Junior Hockey Championships broadcast on Dec. 26, "featuring many of the athletes it has sponsored." The brand during the Sochi Olympics also will "air commercials focusing on six individual athletes" (GLOBE & MAIL, 12/31).
U.S. skier Lindsey Vonn is "the most successful American skier in history, and with that status comes the financial support only a few Olympians enjoy," but her recent injuries "show both the frailty of the Olympic experience ... and Vonn’s established stardom," according to Barry Svrluga of the WASHINGTON POST. Vonn, unlike many other Olympic athletes, is a celebrity and a millionaire, sponsored by Under Armour, Red Bull, Procter & Gamble and "a host of others." Vonn has appeal "both to the public and potential advertisers." IEG Founder & Chief Insights Officer Lesa Ukman said of Vonn, "First of all, she looks gorgeous. That’s numbers one, two and three. Plus she is a gold medalist, the best-ever female ski racer. She has a great story line. She’s very media savvy. She has all the pieces that you need." Vonn is "conscious enough of her marketing position that she hasn’t changed her name from that of her ex-husband." Experts and agents said that because of her "established status, she should not be under pressure from her sponsors to merely appear in the Olympics." That stands in contrast to an athlete like U.S. snowboarder Greg Bretz, who has "established himself as a medal contender with strong results in a series of qualifying competitions." Octagon Managing Dir of Olympic & Action Sports Peter Carlisle said of Bretz, "For a guy like that, if he doesn’t compete, it means so much. If he does well in these Games, he may have some commercial opportunity, and that means everything." UA Senior VP/Global Sports Marketing Matt Mirchin said that the company "made the decision to air commercials with Vonn over the final quarter of 2013, even with her health up in the air, because 'she deserved to be in it'" (WASHINGTON POST, 1/1).
Reebok will be "launching a new marketing strategy for spring with a Fitness in Motion look book that embodies the brand's rich heritage of training, running and fitness," according to Karyn Monget of WOMEN'S WEAR DAILY. Photographed by Carlos Serrao, "each product -- whether it's a sports bra, a tank, yoga pants or boardshorts -- is brought to life in detail as athletes move through their respective fitness disciplines." The athletes include Reebok CrossFit Games specialists Garret Fisher and Lindsey Valenzuela, Olympic middle-distance runner Carrie Tollefson and Spartan obstacle course racer Hunter McIntyre "wearing the Reebok Running collection," while yoga instructor Tara Stiles is "in the Reebok Yoga collection." Fitness instructor Vanessa Vassallo practices "dance steps in the Reebok Dance collection." Reebok VP/Global Brand Marketing Yan Martin said that the new online look book, which is "aimed at the media, consumers and retailers worldwide, will be supported by social media outlets to engage the audience with the brand" (WWD.com, 12/26).
Adams Golf yesterday announced that it has signed golfer Ernie Els to a multiyear agreement in which he will use the company's products and its logo on his bag and headwear (Adams Golf). Meanwhile, GOLFWEEK's Bill Zimmerman noted Trevor Immelman is "moving to Taylormade's stable of staff players" (GOLFWEEK.com, 1/1).
BOWL RACERS: NBCSPORTS.com's Chris Estrada noted NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick yesterday "brought out his new No. 4 Outback Steakhouse/Budweiser Chevrolet onto the field at Raymond James Stadium" during pregame ceremonies for the Iowa-LSU Outback Bowl. Harvick upon getting out of the car "carried out the coin toss for the game." Meanwhile, Dale Earnhardt Jr. also made a bowl appearance in which he "carried some important items -- the game ball and coin -- in his No. 88 Chevrolet as he drove out to midfield" before yesterday's Nebraska-Georgia TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl at EverBank Field (NBCSPORTS.com, 1/1).
JOHNNY FORESTALL: ESPN.com's Darren Rovell cited a letter from a U.S. Trademark & Patent Office attorney as indicating that the office "was suspending the trademark" filed by Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel's corporation, JMAN2 Enterprises, "until an earlier application for the trademark 'Johnny Football' is either abandoned or registered." Manziel filed for the trademark on Feb. 2, 2013 (ESPN.com, 12/31).
EASTERN FRONT: The WTA on Monday announced the launch of its "Road to Singapore" season-long ad campaign, which will follow WTAers from the beginning of the year to the season's conclusion during the WTA Championships in Singapore. With the addition of Singapore as the Championships host city, 17 events will be staged in the Asia-Pacific market in '14. The WTA will host an official launch of the WTA Championships and "Road to Singapore" in market on Jan. 27, during which WTA Chair & CEO Stacey Allastar, along with a player, will officially kick off the Championships for local fans and commercial partners (WTA).