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Volume 24 No. 113

Marketing and Sponsorship

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson remains under contract with Wisconsin-based American Family Insurance through the end of the year, but AFI Marketing Dir Myles Romero yesterday "wasn't ready to state definitively" that Wilson will appear in any additional commercials for the company, according to Lewis Lazare of the CHICAGO BUSINESS JOURNAL. Ogilvy & Mather, Chicago, "bet big on Wilson and made him the star of a 60-second commercial that ran during the Super Bowl in 68 markets where AFI has a presence." Romero said that it is "possible the spot will air again on TV." While Wilson's "future presence in advertising for AFI is unclear at this juncture, Romero is sure of one thing." He said, "We have signed Russell as a brand ambassador through the end of 2014." Romero hinted because AFI "has a very positive relationship with Wilson, the insurance company indeed might be able to use Wilson in more ads" (, 2/3).

In N.Y., Steve Serby writes under the header, "Russell Wilson Is The NFL's New Poster Child." Broncos QB Peyton Manning "for such a long time ... has been the face of the NFL," while Patriots QB Tom Brady has been the league's "other face." However, the "heirs to the throne" are Colts QB Andrew Luck and Wilson, who "just became the leader in the clubhouse by winning Super Bowl XLVIII." Wilson has a "handsome face, a shining face of hope and optimism and cheer, a magnet of a face, almost an angelic face, today a championship face, the kind of face any professional sports owner, coach or manager would want to represent his franchise" (N.Y. POST, 2/4). Baker Street Advertising Senior VP & Exec Creative Dir Bob Dorfman noted Wilson "is going to kill" in terms of getting new endorsements, while the NFL "wants him to be the face of the league" ("Yahoo Sports Talk Live," CSN Bay Area, 2/3).

: Wilson appeared on CBS’ “Late Show” last night to discuss winning the Super Bowl, and he said of the team's post-Super Bowl celebration, “We just had so much fun. Macklemore performed for us in the hotel and coach (Pete) Carroll was up there trying to sing and dance. Paul Allen, our owner, was playing the guitar the whole night." Wilson said of his height, “Some people say I’m about 5’9. No, I’m 5’11." Wilson: "Despite my legal midget status, I think for me to be a really good quarterback you have to have great leadership, attention to detail and competitive nature.” Wilson attended last year’s Super Bowl as a member of the media and said he went to “observe pregame warm-ups and see how long it was, what the feel was like, the rhythm of pregame and the rhythm of halftime and watching Beyonce turn off the lights.” Letterman: “I've been trying to kill the pregame for years.” Wilson: “Pregame's like the best part! I get out there early and visualize.” Letterman asked, “What do you do now? Quit and get a job?” Wilson responded, “I'm thinking about trying to find a second job” (“Late Show,” CBS, 2/3).

Mark Rodgers, Wilson's agent, said that Wilson will "report to Arizona for the start of spring training" with the MLB Rangers. The team selected Wilson in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 Draft in December, but his presence at Spring Training "seems to be a motivational tactic by the Rangers front office as much as anything" (, 2/3).

Coca-Cola's "It's Beautiful" spot is filling the role of this year's "Super Bowl ad that generates a bit of next-day controversy," according to Patrick Day of the L.A. TIMES. The one-minute spot "features children and adults from all walks of life, from across the country, singing 'America the Beautiful' in multiple languages." Two aspects of the ad "appear to have turned it into one of those cultural hot spots." Some "objected to the idea of hearing 'America the Beautiful' sung in languages that were not English," while others "objected to the inclusion of two gay dads in the ad." Coca-Cola has been "under pressure for being a sponsor" of the Sochi Games, as the Russian government has "taken a decidedly anti-LGBT stance in the weeks leading up to the games." While some felt the inclusion of a gay couple in the ad was "a positive show of support, others felt it didn't go far enough" (L.A. TIMES, 2/4). Coca-Cola North America Brands President Katie Bayne said the company hopes the ad "gets people talking and thinking about what it means to be proud to be American." In Atlanta, Christopher Seward reports a 90-second version of the spot "will debut during the opening ceremony" of the Sochi Games. Full versions of “America the Beautiful” in the seven languages "are posted on YouTube and a multilingual version is on Spotify" (ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, 2/4).

EITHER YOU LIKED IT OR YOU DIDN'T: In N.Y., Stuart Elliott reports there was "sharp divergence" among viewers "over how two advertisers, Coca-Cola and Cheerios, defined terms like inspiration and patriotism." The Coca-Cola ad "offered a paean to American pluralism," while the Cheerios spot was a "sequel of sorts to one that the brand’s maker, General Mills, introduced last spring." The spot features a family "composed of a black father, a white mother and a biracial daughter." Some commenters in attacking the Coca-Cola commercial "appropriated a hashtag that Coca-Cola used to designate its spot, #AmericaIsBeautiful, while others used the hashtag #BoycottCoke or coined hashtags that referred to Coke with obscenities." The attacks on Cheerios "were not as angry, nor was the volume near what it was last spring, when General Mills had to disable the commenting function on a post on YouTube" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/4).

CONTRACT EMPLOYEE: Tim Tebow's star turn in two T-Mobile Super Bowl ads was a topic of conversation on yesterday's sports television talk shows. ESPN's Bomani Jones said, "You have to give him credit for his ability to laugh at himself in this situation while he tries to work himself back into the league" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 2/3). Baker Street Advertising Senior VP & Exec Creative Dir Bob Dorfman said the ads "worked because it had a good tie-in." Dorfman: "Here's a guy who doesn't have a contract. It was a nice connection between star and message." CSN Bay Area's Jim Kozimor: "It was really fun and he kind of poked fun at himself and it worked" ("Yahoo Sports Talk Live," CSN Bay Area, 2/3). ESPN's Stephen A. Smith said, "I thought the commercials were fantastic. I thought he showed a lot of personality." But ESPN's Skip Bayless said he "hated" the ads if Tebow "still wants to play" in the NFL. Bayless acknowledged the ads "came across as very Hollywood, leading man-type." But he said all the ads "will do for a GM who might have had an inkling that maybe I'll bring Tim Tebow to camp this year, it will remind that GM of what a huge media-crazed distraction Tim Tebow will still create in anybody's training camp" ("First Take," ESPN2, 2/3). 

TURNING ON THE RADIO: In Ft. Worth, Barry Shlachter writes RadioShack "scored with its first Super Bowl ad in a decade, a self-effacing spot that used a troop of 1980s celebrities ... to highlight its efforts to update a tired image." The ad for the "struggling" company ends by "showing a new RadioShack store design, emphasizing the makeover underway at the retail chain." RadioShack CEO Joe Magnacca, who took over in February '13, said of the ad, "We love the ’80s like everyone else, but it was time to show how we’ve evolved." RadioShack Senior VP & CMO Jennifer Warren added that the ad was "rated either No. 1 or among the top five by viewers in various surveys conducted Sunday night." Warren indicated that some viewers called it “not only best, but most effective in getting the message across that we are 'a new RadioShack'" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 2/4).

ONE MILD NIGHT: In Chicago, Lewis Lazare wrote Super Bowl XLVIII "will no doubt go down in history as one of the worst showings in history for Bud Light during the big game, an advertising platform Bud Light once dominated." The brand's "Epic Night" ads were a "colossal failure on many fronts." The decision to "break up the 'Epic Night' into a 30-second spot followed by a frantically-edited 60-second spot created confusion and made it impossible establish a coherent storyline." The ads are a "humorless, rambling big-budget work that needed to be much better and more focused to have any chance of succeeding as a Super Bowl commercial" (, 2/3).

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING: ESPN's Keith Olbermann said Super Bowl commercials "have jumped the shark." Olbermann: "I have to watch not one, but two plays of a spot that invokes bull semen. Seriously? The annual Budweiser rip-off of 'Old Yeller' or 'March of the Penguins' or whatever -- if they spent as much money on making their beer taste good as they do on the Super Bowl commercials, America would be a happier place!" ("Olbermann," ESPN2, 2/3). Dorfman said, "There was kind of a blandness this year. Where was the questionable taste, where was the sleaze, where was the sex? You didn’t see any" ("Yahoo Sports Talk Live," CSN Bay Area, 2/3). The N.Y. Daily News' Ralph Vacchiano said "there's not a buzz about" the ads this year" ("Daily News Live," SNY, 2/3). Fox Business' Dennis Kneale said the ads "were just not that good." Kneale: "It was all the more evident given how bad the game was" ("Markets Now," Fox Business, 2/3).

In Tacoma, C.R. Roberts notes Seahawks Super Bowl XLVIII championship T-shirts at Northwest Embroidery in Milton, Wash., were "ready by noon" yesterday, and Owner Jim Mickelson's staff "had a difficult time keeping up with demand." Mickelson said, "As soon as we got a pile, they’re sold. You can’t imagine what the Seahawks have done for the local economy." Meanwhile, Oyo Sportstoys CMO Mike Ewing, whose Massachusetts-based company sells collectibles and sports-related gifts, said of Seahawks memorabilia, "We’ve seen, in the last 48 hours, an increase in demand. We’ve seen demand double" (Tacoma NEWS TRIBUNE, 2/4). Fans yesterday "poured into the Seahawks team store" at CenturyLink Field to "buy championship T-shirts and hats" (AP, 2/4).

Seahawks lighters mark first time Bic
has commemorated a Super Bowl win
C'MON BABY, LIGHT MY FIRE: In what might be termed the ultimate hot-market championship licensed product, longtime NFL licensee Bic is selling lighters commemorating the Seahawks' Super Bowl win. It's the first time Bic has made lighters commemorating a Super Bowl triumph. There are six different designs of "championship lighters." The lighters are priced at $2.99 and will be available in the Seattle market starting next week (Terry Lefton, Editor-at-Large).

KING THOMAS: In Portland, Allan Brettman notes Seahawks S Earl Thomas, who is sponsored by Jordan Brand, "wore a special edition Jordan Brand football cleat" during Super Bowl XLVIII. In addition, Jordan Brand in advance of the game "sought inspiring tweets from Thomas' fans to transfer to his game-time adhesive tape" and "produced a video about the effort." It "appears from the video" that Thomas "received the tape Friday night at the Flight 23 store" in Manhattan, where he "said his thank you to fans" (Portland OREGONIAN, 2/4).

BURNING COUCHES: In DC, J.D. Harrison reports Houston-based Gallery Furniture over the past few weeks "ran a promotion promising customers a full refund on any purchase of more than $6,000" if the Seahawks won the Super Bowl. As a result, "hundreds of patrons flocked to the store." Store Owner Jim McIngvale "lost big -- to the tune" of $7M (WASHINGTON POST, 2/4). In Houston, Jayme Fraser reported McIngvale had "vowed 'never to do another contest' after losing $685,000 on a promotion giving away free furniture to 100 customers who correctly guessed the winners of both the AFC and NFC championship games." McIngvale said that he "did not take out any insurance" to cover the Super Bowl promotion. He added that while the $7M is "his biggest loss of any contest, he prefers to consider it an investment" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 2/3).

U.S. snowboarder Shaun White since repeating as the Olympic Halfpipe Gold Medalist at the '10 Vancouver Games has "driven an evolution of his brand that has made him as much a celebrity as top action sports athlete," according to Rachel Axon of USA TODAY. White has become "a household name with witty gum commercials, cameo appearances in films and TV and a rock band of his own." When White competes in two events at the Sochi Games, America will "view him more as a pop-culture icon than action sports novelty." Since Vancouver, he has "achieved something rare among winter Olympians -- he's recognizable without his gear." That has meant his team of "around a dozen employees at Shaun White Enterprises has been busy." He has employees who "help design clothes for his line at Target as well as his line of glasses with Oakley and market his products." Many of White's sponsors were "with him before he won his second gold medal." Burton "signed him when he was 7," and he has been with Target and Oakley "for more than a decade." White said that the collaborative relationships he has with Target and Burton have "existed since the beginning of their partnerships." He added that he has "turned down some contracts that didn't give him that kind of creative control." Axon notes the change in his brand perception "has allowed him to ditch the Flying Tomato nickname, which he initially embraced but became tiresome to him as he got older." Shaun White Enterprises COO Keith Yokomoto said that White has "built a strong brand around his name that represents a lifestyle between action sports and pop culture" (USA TODAY, 2/4).

THE LATEST "IT" GIRL: In Miami, Michelle Kaufman writes under the header, "American Teen Skier Mikaela Shiffrin Is Breakout Star For Olympics." Shiffrin is the "reigning slalom world champion, blonde and telegenic, down-to-earth and chatty." She will be an "undisputed breakout star, the U.S. Olympic team's 'It Girl.'" The SI Olympic preview magazine last week featured Shiffrin on the cover with the header, "The Next Lindsey Vonn" (MIAMI HERALD, 2/4).