The BNP Paribas Open has added Rolex, Esurance and Michelob Ultra as Premier-level sponsors ahead of the March tennis event. Rolex, as the event's official timepiece in a new multiyear deal, will have on-court placement of specially manufactured clocks. As the official insurance brand through '15, Esurance will now be presenting sponsor for the McEnroe Challenge for Charity. Michelob Ultra, now the official beer through '15, will take over the bar at the Circle of Palms and Garden Club Courtyard. In addition, Tommy Bahama will be a Contributing Sponsor through '15 and will get its own bar on site (BNP Paribas Open).
DEAD & BURIED: In New Orleans, Katherine Sayre reported the owner of a local casket store "says the Saints organization has demanded he stop selling a black-and-gold 'Who Dat' casket, calling the fleur de lis and color scheme an NFL trademark violation." 'Til We Meet Again Managing Partner Jonathan LaHatte said that he "received a cease-and-desist letter Tuesday from the NFL." Saints Senior VP/Communications Greg Bensel said that the club "first contacted the store before it opened, and the owner agreed to redesign the fleur de lis symbol 'so that it was not the exact design of, or confusingly similar to, our federally registered trademarked logo'" (NOLA.com, 2/20).
NOT SO HOT: The FINANCIAL TIMES' Alice Ross noted Puma's sales in Q4 "fell more than expected." The company said that it had "a lack of brand heat." However, CEO Bjorn Gulden said Puma was "still a 'great brand.'" The company is "hoping that recent high-profile sponsorships," including Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt and EPL club Arsenal, will "help entice consumers back to its products" (FT.com, 2/20).
DON'T MESS WITH MIKE: In Chicago, Steve Schmadeke reports a federal appeals court has "breathed new life" into Bobcats Owner Michael Jordan’s legal battle with Jewel-Osco "over a congratulatory ad it ran when he was inducted" into the Basketball HOF in '09. Jordan filed a $5M lawsuit against Jewel and also sued supermarket chain Dominick’s, which ran a congratulatory ad in one of its magazines, "calling Jordan 'a cut above' near a coupon for steak." A judge in '12 found that the Jewel ad "was 'noncommercial speech' protected by the First Amendment." However, a 7th Circuit appeals court on Wednesday "reversed that ruling ... allowing the case to move forward" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 2/21).