Sports drink company BodyArmor today announced Lakers G Kobe Bryant has made an investment in the company and will become the No. 3 investor, behind co-Founders Mike Repole and Lance Collins. Bryant will work closely with Repole and Collins to continue to build the brand. He will be involved in all facets of the business, including product development, innovation, marketing, expansion markets and overall growth strategy for the company. Bryant has been collaborating with the executive team for several months on marketing initiatives, innovation and roll-out of the recently launched BodyArmor flavors (BodyArmor). ESPN.com's Darren Rovell noted Bryant "would only say that he invested millions of his own money" in Body Armour. Bryant's investment came as he "formed his own company called Kobe Inc., and is building a team around him to start new businesses and evaluate investing in others." Bryant said, "We want to own and help grow brands and ideas that challenge and redefine the sports industry while inspiring. If it doesn't have the limbs of the sports industry, which I understand extremely well, then I probably won't touch it." Bryant said that he has "watched previous NBA greats like Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson turn basketball careers into lucrative business relationships." Jordan has "famously made money by licensing his name to Nike to make Air Jordan sneakers," and Johnson has "made much of his money by allowing others to use his name as well." But the "path Bryant seeks will be more hands-on." He said, "I want to be a part of something and if you want to be a true entrepreneur you have to put skin in the game. At this stage in my life, I don't have the interest in taking on any more endorsements" (ESPN.com, 3/23).
Marketing and Sponsorship
The PGA Tour this morning officially announced Quicken Loans has signed a multiyear deal to take over for AT&T as the title sponsorship of the DC-area tournament hosted by the Tiger Woods Foundation. The Quicken Loans National will by played June 23-29 at Congressional Country Club. Quicken Loans also will serve as the official mortgage sponsor for both the PGA and Champions tours (PGA Tour). PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said, "When a company of this stature makes this kind of commitment, it sends a great signal that the PGA Tour is the place to be -- and in this case, the Tiger Woods Foundation is a great partner to have" (Golf Channel, 3/24).
Amazon over the weekend launched a new corporate partnership with the NCAA with a pair of 30-second spots during the NCAA Tournament. One featured Turner sideline reporter Craig Sager, while the other paired Turner studio analysts Steve Smith and Grant Hill. Both ads focused on Amazon's Kindle Fire and the new "Mayday" button. No announcement has been made and Amazon is not yet listed as an official partner on the NCAA's website, but the ad with Smith and Hill closed with a tagline saying that Amazon is an official NCAA partner. The Seattle-based online retailer has seldom stepped into the sports sponsorship space. In '12, it struck a deal with pro skateboarder Andy Macdonald as Amazon launched a new section of action sports merchandise. The NCAA sponsorship apparently came together very late in relation to the tournament. An industry sources said as of two weeks ago, a deal was close but had not yet been signed. Just as the tournament was beginning with the First Four last Tuesday, Amazon shot its spot with Smith and Hill on the set of Turner's studio show based in Atlanta (Michael Smith, Staff Writer).
FINAL FUROR: In Boston, Leigh Montville wrote ads that air during the NCAA men's basketball tournament are "an annual curse," as they "come at us in waves." Montville gives his "Elite Eight of irritability" for commercials airing during this year's tournament, including the "one commercial of this March that will lead us to true madness." Montville has Sonic's drive-in duo as the "irritability champions" over State Farm's "Chris Paul and Cliff Paul" spot in the final (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/23).
Former NBAer Jamal Mashburn is "teaming up with" former Ogilvy & Mather Managing Dir of Content Strategy Jonathan Sackett to "open a new advertising agency in Chicago," according to Suzanne Vranica of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The duo hopes to "take advantage of marketers’ growing interest in smaller agencies that can more nimbly respond to changes underway in the media landscape, such as the rise of social media." Sackett believes that having "a high profile name on the door will improve the agency’s access to potential clients." Mashburn will be chair of the new agency, and explains "how his business experience has taught him about marketing." He owns "several car dealerships and an interest in several restaurant franchises including 38 Outback Steakhouse restaurants and 40 Papa John’s pizza restaurants." Mashburn: "I will not be the guy pitching the creative concept. I am more of an operations person. My role will be oversight of the agency, administrative and building relationships. I have relationships and access to companies and people in the technology space, the food industry and car business" (WSJ.com, 3/23).