The NHL is "encouraging sponsors to make use of one of its dearest icons" -- the Stanley Cup -- as part of the league's "more active courting of advertisers this year," according to Susan Krashinsky of the GLOBE & MAIL. The league "got started earlier than usual pitching sponsors on dedicating part of their marketing budgets to take advantage of the buzz around playoff season." NHL CMO Brian Jennings said, "We’ve been under-utilizing the Stanley Cup in materials." While NHL sponsors "were always allowed to use the Cup," the league this year "actively suggested it as part of its better-organized pitch to advertisers." The NHL said that brands "doing playoff promotions for the first time" in '14 include Tim Hortons, Oreo, Honda, L’Oreal and Diageo. A Stanley Cup Playoffs doughnut "will be sold at all of Tim Hortons’ roughly 3,400 locations" across Canada. Meanwhile, Oreo has "carved the cup into the chocolatey surface of its cookies." The "limited-edition cookies have an image of the Cup on each biscuit, as well as on the packaging, which uses the NHL slogan 'Because it’s the Cup'" (GLOBE & MAIL, 4/11).
TV TIMEOUT:NHL VP/Integrated Marketing Brian Cull said that several "new hockey-themed ads are expected" for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In next week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, Terry Lefton reports Enterprise Rent-A-Car is using Blues RW T.J. Oshie in a spot, while Verizon is "expected to have new creative" with Capitals RW Alex Ovechkin. NBC Sports Exec VP/Sales & Marketing Seth Winter said ad sales for this year's playoffs are "light years ahead" of last season. He added that 85-90% of the net's playoff inventory "has been sold" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 4/14 issue).
Mississippi State on Thursday "announced a new seven-year extension with Adidas" worth more than $17M, according to Michael Bonner of the Jackson CLARION-LEDGER. The school in '09 agreed to a 5-year deal worth $3M in product, and the new deal spans seven years worth $17.5M in "both product and cash." MSU AD Scott Stricklin said, "Loyalty is important. And Adidas came to us when we may not have been as appealing. They outperformed. They went above and beyond. And our coaches are incredibly happy with that relationship." However, Bonner noted MSU fans "haven't always been pleased with Adidas." One of their "biggest complaints" involves the similarity between MSU and Texas A&M. adidas Dir of Football Mark Daniels said of the schools' uniforms, "I'll be really honest, as we've moved into the last couple of years things have gotten a little closer than we'd like them to be. We are diligently focused on separating them even more." adidas "allows coaches to help design the uniforms." Daniels said that sometimes coaches' preferences are "very similar," and "with similar colors there are only so many options." Daniels: "What we have to do is look at that history and tradition and say OK, how do we modernize that? And how do we modernize that in a way that separates" (CLARIONLEDGER.com, 4/10). The MSU extension with adidas runs through '20 (MSU).
NEW THREADS: The CLARION-LEDGER's Bonner noted MSU on Thursday "revealed baseball uniforms for Super Bulldog Weekend as well as football uniforms" for the '14 home opener. The baseball jersey, pants and hat are "a white-cream color" that is "more white than the cream displayed" by the MLB Giants. The football uniforms "are a tribute to the teams of the 1990s," specifically '98 when MSU won the SEC West. The baseball jerseys will "be worn during the team's three-game series against Ole Miss this weekend" (CLARIONLEDGER.com, 4/10).
ESPN President of Global Customer Marketing & Sales Ed Erhardt said that the net "is seeing significantly higher ad sales" for the '14 FIFA World Cup in Brazil compared to South Africa in '10, according to Michael McCarthy of AD AGE. Erhardt added, "Demand is strong. We've got very little inventory left." He said that the "more favorable TV time zone of Rio de Janeiro is certainly helping to attract advertisers," but added that there "are other trends at work." McCarthy notes more U.S. TV nets are showing more MLS matches -- as well as EPL and UEFA Champions League matches -- "than ever before." Erhardt: "It's clearly resonating as a sport that's mainstream in this country now." He said that FIFA sponsor adidas "is coming in heavy" with media buys. Other FIFA sponsors "expected to advertise" include Coca-Cola, Visa, Budweiser, McDonald's and Hyundai. Erhardt said that movie studios, telecom companies, men's grooming products, beer brands and tech companies "are all buying ad time across ESPN properties" (ADAGE.com, 4/11).
OPTIMISM RUNNING HIGH: The AP's Mark Long noted Nike co-Founder & Chair Phil Knight has “high hopes for the World Cup in Brazil this summer,” where Nike is “outfitting 10 of the 32 qualifying teams.” Knight, who was at Augusta National for The Masters, said, “How excited am I and how optimistic am I? Twelve out of 10.” Knight: "We think in terms of public perception, this [World Cup] will be the one where they see that we’re the leading soccer company” (AP, 4/10).
Rawlings Sporting Goods and its parent company, Jarden Corp., are "seeking to grow sales outside the U.S." and have "signed multiple foreign sponsorship deals recently," according to Lisa Brown of the ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. Rawlings execs said that less than 5% of company sales "are currently outside of the U.S. and Canada, giving it room for growth." The Missouri-based Rawlings on Friday will host "more than 40 baseball players and coaches from China and an internationally known cricket player from Australia." The company opened an office in Tokyo in '12 and has "since grown its sales staff focused on foreign markets from one employee to 20." The company is "focusing its efforts on growing sales of Rawlings gloves and other products in Japan, the second largest baseball market behind the U.S., but it also sees opportunities to grow the Rawlings brand in Europe, Latin America and other countries." Rawlings last month signed "a six-year sponsorship deal with the Chinese Baseball Association," and at the beginning of '14 "signed a three-year deal to sponsor the Australian Baseball League and Baseball Australia." Meanwhile, Cricket Australia captain Michael Clarke is scheduled to meet with Rawlings staff on Friday "to help designers create a new line of cricket gloves." The company three weeks ago "signed a sponsorship deal with Clarke to develop the new line, marking Rawlings’ first foray" into cricket (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 4/11).
Tennis player Maria Sharapova on Friday announced that she will become the new co-Owner of Supergoop!, a "skincare company focused on preventing damage caused by sun exposure." USA TODAY's Douglas Robson noted financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Sharapova "called her involvement 'organic' since she already used the 6-year-old company's products, which are sold both online and in retailers such as Sephora and Nordstrom" (USATODAY.com, 4/10).
INSURANCE POLICY: ADWEEK's Melissa Hoffmann noted MetLife's sign in the outfield of Yankee Stadium this season spells the company's name "in both English and Japanese." The move comes "partially because of MetLife's four-decade presence in Japan." MetLife has been a "major supporter of the Yankees for the past seven years." The company this season also has bought "home plate rotational advertising with the Yankees for away games, which will run at the bottom of the inning" while Masahiro Tanaka or Hiroki Kuroda are pitching (ADWEEK.com, 4/10).
THE CHOP HOUSE: Michael Waltrip Racing's No. 55 Toyota driven by Brian Vickers will "honor Florida State's BCS national football championship with a special paint scheme" during the July 5 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona Int'l Speedway. FSU's championship logo will be on the hood. The paint scheme "will be unveiled during the Seminoles' spring game on Saturday." Vickers' ride last season featured a paint scheme honoring Louisville's men's basketball championship during a race at Kentucky Speedway (JACKSONVILLE.com, 4/9).